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Minnesota’s Governor issued a two week ‘Stay at Home’ order that starts today. I feel fortunate to have already been working from home for 17 days, but half of my household will continue to go out to their workplaces each day. My last post talked about some of the ways I am staying grounded and focused during this time when our world seems to be changing on a daily basis. The news can feel overwhelming but people all over the world are rallying together to support each other and the greater good during the Covid-19 pandemic.
I am especially encouraged by the small Minnesota companies, that putting on their thinking caps and are jumping in with both feet to help! Small distilleries are shifting production to make free hand sanitizer, a local corporate gift company is making face shields, restaurants are feeding emergency workers and school kids with their food supplies… and an army with sewing machines is banding together in a grassroots effort to make cloth face masks at the request of healthcare professionals on the front lines.
I was particularly moved this week by the efforts of Frost River Trading out of Duluth, who has shifted all efforts from making waxed canvas packs to PPE equipment for Northland Hospitals and Healthcare Professionals. They quickly figured out how to move their store sales online and I have just been so impressed with their quick action to help support their North Shore Communities.
Amazing work everyone! You encourage and inspire us all when the world just seems to be full of bad news. There are so many more good stories and bright spots out there. Keep shining and keep on looking for the good things in each day!
If you’ve been reading for a while, you’ll know that I am a Southern California transplant, but call Minnesota home now. I’m fully assimilated, like FOR REAL…I’m totally making a tater tot hotdish for dinner tonight! I have been wanting to dedicate a post to my favorite Minnesota gear for a while. Although it’s hard to know what to write about during this tender time, this seemed like the perfect time, since so many of my faves are small cottage businesses that could use some love right now. As they temporarily close their doors, move online and hunker down to flatten the curve; we can all help these businesses stay up and running by buying gift cards, shopping online, supporting their go fund me community projects and telling our friends about em! So here here’s a shout out to some of my local faves! <3
Minnesota Gear & Gear Shops
“Spend less on gear, (more on beer).” Nancy, the founder, is a multi-talented repair wizard that can fix just about anything…if she can’t, she’ll send you to someone who can. She might even tell you how to go and fix it yourself (happened to me once). This shop is a local gem who’s mission is to ‘unfill the landfill’ while making gear accessible to every one! Check their website for ways to show some love like mailing in repairs and buying electronic gift cards for future repairs/purchases from the consignment shop once it opens back up.
This iconic local shop has been around to inspire and answer ALL of my questions since the beginning of my journey (and just found out that they have technically been in business longer than I’ve been alive!) Attending the Fall and Spring Expo has become tradition, along with countless Beer n’ Gear nights, and learning something new at their free outdoor clinics. While the shop is temporarily closed, check their website for options such as curbside pick up and gift card purchases to support them along the way!
“Born in the Boundary Waters and tougher than granite.” Granite Gear started in Northern MN and still manufactures all of their tactical line in Two Harbors MN. After “taking a major dose of inspiration from the Packing It Out team” in 2015, they started the Groundskeeper team and have been leaving it better (Waaaay better!) ever since! I’ve had the pleasure of visiting their Two Harbors manufacturing facility twice, can depend on their tough gear on my adventures and am proud to support a company that provides small town jobs.
Garage Grown Gear
Known as the ‘Farm to Table’ version of outdoor gear…and the one place to find all of your favorite small, startup, and cottage outdoor brands! The co-founders of Garage Grown Gear are from Minnesota AND Idaho, but their office address is in Minnesota, so they made the list! If you aren’t familiar with the GGG crew yet, get on it. This is a great place to support and discover new cottage brands. Here are a few of my faves you’ve probably seen me go on about in past gear posts and trip reports!
What started as a basement project to make gear for youth group trips in 2007, has grown into one of the most popular sleep systems among elite thru hikers (and even middle aged adventure Moms like me). Made in Winona Minnesota, Enlightened Equipment has figured out how to make some of the lightest gear out there while keeping the price reasonable. I bought my first quilt in 2017 for my 2018 thru hike of the Superior Hiking Trail and became an ambassador for them for one year after touring their manufacturing facility. You can read about that trip here. Getting to meet the people who make your gear and see where they work is a privilege and I encourage you to do it if you ever get the chance. Most of my ‘critical’ backpacking gear is made by EE, and while it is not the cheapest around, it’s dependable and if you take care of it, will last through many adventures. During this time, they are still taking custom orders (with some expected delays) and offer gift cards for purchases when things return to normal. Here are a few of my faves, (its a toss up for the number one spot between my Revelation Quilt and my Torrid Jacket!): Revelation Quilt, Torrid Jacket, Snow Skirt, Stronghold Mittens, Sidekick Booties, Hooligan Hat, Recon Bivy, Paladin Tarp
Minnesota Outdoor Artists
Tin Cup Design
I’m including my friend Jordan, the creative mind behind Tin Cup Design (rooting for goodness through art!) because 1) she’s amazing 2) she has a really great collection of Superior Hiking Trail and North Shore themed prints you should go check out right now! I have several pieces of hers in my house and they bring a smile to my face and always bring back fond memories of trips and landmarks from up North. Looking at her full length Superior Hiking Trail print that hangs in my living room was one of the things that kept me encouraged and focused as I was preparing for my trip and getting ready to head back out after our thru hike ended early. If you have had to cancel a trip this year because of the virus, this is a cool way to keep a good mindset about it and stay positive. The trail will still be there, waiting for your return.
Keith Myrmel Maps
Keith has a new map! And here’s a little secret…he’s featuring a quote from yours truly on it! I just about jumped up and did a giddy little jig when he asked me if he could include my quote on the Isle Royale Map – I felt so honored, how could I say no? If you haven’t seen Keith’s Maps of the Superior Hiking Trail and BWCA, check them out. They are functional works of art that are beautiful to look at, but also fun to read. Like the print I mentioned above, Keith’s Superior Hiking Trail map was instrumental in my visualization of completing the trail when I felt discouraged. It came with me on my hikes and is now framed with all of my trail notes in my living room. His website is up to date on shipping and lead times, this is a great time to curl up with a blanket, dream about future trips and stick your nose in a map.
Minnesota Bikes and Shops
I got a new bike last summer. I love it. It’s rad. I feel cool when I ride it. I wanna go bikepacking!
Check out Surly Bikes, designed and assembled right here in Bloomington Minnesota! Nuff said!
These are some of my very favorite bike shops! I visit them to buy stuff I need, ask questions, drink their delicious coffee….and they always make me feel welcome. They also ALL give back to the community in one way or another. Some are open during the stay at home order, but some aren’t. So if you need to get your bike running this spring, check in with them, use your best judgement and find ways to show em some love!
Whew! This took a long time to write and I feel like I haven’t even scratched the surface. Gotta get that tater tot hotdish in the oven! I hope you enjoyed reading about a few of my favorite Minnesota Outdoor Gear peeps today. These are just the ones I have personally used, and I’m sure I forgot some! Do you have a favorite? Shoot them a little love note in the comments and don’t forget to include a link. This is a time for all of us to pull together, care for one another and look for ways to help. I hope you are all well and safely enjoying the outdoors (according to your local guidelines) wherever you roam (close home).
We’re in this together!
Hey! Don’t Go Yet…
Adding a few helpful articles I’ve read since originally posting this. Check em out!