Field Tested: Frost River Grand Portage Pack

 Frost River Grand Portage pack review Photo by Aaron Schmidt.
Photo by Aaron Schmidt.

Frost River Grand Portage Pack

(www.frostriver.com; $350)

By Alan Schmidt

If you are anywhere near my age, you are likely to agree that one of our fondest childhood camping memories is the smell of heavy canvas. Of course, back then most of our camping gear was army surplus. Today, in an age of high-tech designs and fabrics it is refreshing to use a made-in-America product that brings us back to our youth. While much has been written about gnarly portages and the use of canvas packs with tumplines to haul loads, the art of using a tumpline is mostly forgotten. The Frost River Grand Portage is the real deal, designed by people who use their gear on genuine backcountry adventures and who understand the advantages of traditional designs. Other paddlers will watch with envy as you step with confidence on the portage trail with a fully loaded pack, tumpline on your brow and looking cool at the same time.

Alan Schmidt uses the padded tump line on the Frost River Grand Portage pack during a canoe trip in Alberta, Canada. Photo by Aaron Schmidt
Alan Schmidt uses the padded tumpline on the Frost River Grand Portage pack during a canoe trip in Alberta, Canada. Photo by Aaron Schmidt

With over 7,000 cubic inches there is room for your tent, sleeping bag, clothes and paddle gear. Everything goes in a dry bag; the Grand Portage protects your gear from the ravages of the trail and its roomy interior makes it easy to carry your camp equipment in a single load. With all your gear in one place, gone is the potential for leaving loose items on the portage trail. The Grand Portage comes with two external and one map pocket. All the seams, straps and buckles are rugged and are ready for heavy duty use. It will not dry out as quickly as a synthetic version and it probably won't be the lightest gear item you have, but the Grand Portage Pack is what you’ll want to take on a two-week trip. The feel and smell of waxed canvas, harness leather and solid brass hardware make this pack an absolute joy to use, and its quality design will ensure that it’s part of your canoe gear for years to come.

Frost River Grand Portage pack review Photo by Aaron Schmidt.
Photo by Aaron Schmidt.

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