14 November 2011

Return to Frost River Trading Co

When I first visited and wrote about Frost River Trading Co HERE, they were basically a manufacturing facility only. They didn't have a store front though they would welcome you in and show you anything you wanted to see. Back in July they moved to a new location in Duluth Minnesota, and last week I stopped in for the first time since the move. I had a couple questions and I wanted to pick up a Pack Basket, same one seen in 'A Walk Through My November Woods". I would add that I'm in no way affiliated with Frost River, not on the payroll, do not receive nor ask for discounts. I'm just a user that believes in their products, style, and I love to see that Made in USA tag!

I met Mr. David Hoole, when I came through the door, and his first words were, "I know you, you're the American Grouch". I have to say I was a bit out of sorts, I don't think I've met anyone else in person who reads my rambles save a few folks from my work. David is a personable guy with a heavy background in the outdoors and we struck it off right, right out of the gate. In the process of purchasing the pack basket we got to talking about all manner of things, waxing philosophical amidst all that waxed canvas was a treat. I didn't have my camera with me and I needed that snap added to the foraging bag so I asked if I could come back by and get that done while snapping some pics of their new digs. Wasn't a problem.

I take okay pictures outside, but my skills at indoor photography are lacking to say the least, could have also been the smell of leather and canvas wreaking havoc with my fine motor control too. We went upstairs to get the snap added, which was a snap to do, no pun intended. The machinery used to do that was fascinating, a leg powered press, which when operated looks like this:

On the way out of the operations area upstairs I spotted these leather goods, man o man take a look at that rich leather goodness!

While on the upper landing you get a bird's eye view of the store, notice the hammered tin ceiling? They just don't make stuff like that anymore, no idea how old that is, it'll never need replacing though.

Also got a view of the leather working areas, they've stream lined everything.

The tents they carry are also made in Duluth, they've got them on the wall in the store, all of them except the Northwoods Tarp.

They've really expanded their line, everything from luggage, canoe packs, Bushcraft packs, bike packs, home decor, totes, you name it they probably make it.

Kevin Kinney from Empire Canvas Works, has an assortment of his wool clothing and Anoraks in the store as well. I don't know when but it sounded like they may also start carrying his True North Boots as well.

The canoes in the shop are nice, the Stewart River canoe was incredible. A functional piece of art and another product made right here in Minnesota.

There big pack line is ever expanding and where my heart truly lay, from their Timber Cruiser which is my favorite to their Isle Royale Sr & Jr, there is a pack for every one and every task. The Cliff Jacobson is probably my next purchase for a day pack, even though I love the Nessmuk namesake pack too!

This is the Cliff Jacobson Signature pack, looks like a great day pack and for the minimalist even an over-nighter.

The Nessmuk.

One of the newest packs isn't new, it's just wrapped in orange. I'm thinking about picking one of these up for the boys to use during rifle season.

While I'm not a cyclist they do offer several bags for bikes, same top notch quality found in everything else.

It's kind of tough to see in this image, it was taken from outside through the store front's glass. That is the Camp Kitchen pack. A very large pack with big side pockets and several organizational features, like the utensil/tool slab that can be detached and hung near your campfire or fire grate. I see a lot of other uses for it as well.  Since the image from the window is hard to see, I've also included an image from their website.

While I was there I also picked up some nice organizational bags, one will hold my Kupilka and general cooking and eating stuff, another holds a personal survival kit including a tarp and small first aid kit, and the smaller of the three is the perfect size for a fire and tinder kit.

So I left Frost River Trading Co with a some good memories, some good ideas, and a new friend. Thanks David Hoole, for taking the time for the walk through and the discussion.

I'll be back.


  1. Those tents look like just what I'm looking for!
    Great to see my home state doing well. Faribault Woolen Mills is back online also!

  2. Nice profile of what seems to be a great company. I just took the plunge on an "Isle Royal Jr." pack. Can't wait to use it.

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  5. ave my camera with me and I needed that snap added to the foraging bag so I asked if I could come back by and get that done while snapping

  6. I just took the plunge on an "Isle Royal Jr." pack. Can't wait to use it.

  7. Great post. Thanks for the great woodsman porn! Got me droolin'.

    I have many friends from FR, and I love them all! I highly recommend their gear. The new synthetics just aren't the same.

    Happy Trails

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