Canoe pack review

Vintage Duluth packs

I don’t know the folks in these catalog-quality shots of Duluth canoe packs in action (more shots of Duluth packs and satchels courtesy this flickr photostream). But I love how they make real the prehistoric size of a true-to-life canoe pack. My main encounter with this style of pack (waxed or dry finish) is by way of catalog and web images that reduce everything to thumbnail scale. I contemplate buying a traditional canoe pack just for the visual punchline of wearing around a bag as big as me (tumpline in place).

Duluth Pack photos (courtesy this flickr photostream)

Speaking of canoe packs, Frost River (a former Duluth pack rival/offshoot) seems to have returned from the ashes. This week, ebay featured some deadstock items for sale by a new Frost River management group. I wanted to win this bag but die hard Frost River fans drove the auction price beyond my alpine rucksack pricepoint. For interested parties, the old FR website–with its old timey product illustrations–is back online at this new url. I’m archiving some sample illustrations in case the site disappears from view again.

Frost River Utility Pack

Frost River Woodsman Pack

Frost River Old No. 7 Pack

From Little Golden Book of Camping (courtesy thbonamici)

A & F Co. 1908 Advertisement

Tump line use illustrated

1942 updates

6 thoughts on “Canoe pack review”

  1. I bought myself a vintage Duluth on eBay and had a chance to put it to the test canoeing into Lake George to island camp. It is sort of a beast, but it held almost all of the supplies need to for two, and fit and balanced really well inside the canoe.

  2. I never understood the size and shape of Duluth packs until I used one on a canoe trip to the BWCAW and then it all made sense. I’m a visual person and needed to see how well the packs hold gear and how well the packs fit into the bottom of a canoe. By contrast, internal and external frame backpacks are a pain in the assets in a canoe.

    Good to hear Frost River is back in business. Next time in Duluth I’ll have to swing into their store. The Frost River store and the Duluth Pack stores are well worth a visit.

  3. fyi.. Here’s an email I received from the new folks at Frost River regarding their future plans:

    Here is an update on where things stand with Frost River:

    -Our website at frostriverdesigns.com went live on Friday September 11,
    -We have our machinery in our new space up and running.
    -We have hired 4 former Frost River employees who are currently working for
    us, or who are due to start in the next couple of weeks.
    -We have set a goal for ourselves to have our pricing figured out by October
    -We plan to start taking orders and building products to order during
    October (however order lead time may be several weeks in the beginning while
    we get things up and running).

    I will be sure to update you with information from your request once
    available. We have every intention to get the biking products back up and
    running as soon as possible as they were very popular.

    Thank you for your time and interest!

    Chris Benson
    Frost River
    (218) 727-1472
    fax (218) 727-1645

  4. Thanks for the heads up on Frost River. I’ll be through Duluth next in mid-November and hopefully the retail store will be reopened by then. I was lucky enough to score a FR wool, plaid daypack at a thrift store one day.

  5. Many thanks for the update on Frost River. It was through your great site that I learned they were getting back in business.

    Thought you’d be interested in this Ebay post of an 1882 Poirier Pack – the predecessor of today’s Duluth Pack with the seller listing for $100,000 US! It is supposedly the oldest and possibly only pack of its kind in existence. You’re the archival clothing expert…worth that much???

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