Q. We love Two Harbors! And it's so cool that the global brand is headquartered here. What's the connection with northern Minnesota?
A. We started Granite Gear in Minneapolis, but the pull of the north, and especially the Boundary Waters led us to seek out a place on the North Shore to settle. Two Harbors was seeking new businesses to diversify the economy and helped us with initial loans to fund the business. We moved here in 1988. It turns out Two Harbors has been a great community to live in as well as to headquarter a company. The people who live here are hard-working, and it's a great small town to raise a family.
Q. The company was started in the mid-80's - a true outdoor gear pioneer of its time. How has the product changed over the years?
A. We started out as a very small business selling canoe packs to outfitters, as well as outdoor stores here in the upper midwest. Once we became a leader in that regional market, we turned to the climbing, backpacking, and skiing markets, all of which we loved! Our passion for the outdoors led us to create what we called "bombproof" gear. It was all about making unique gear that would last. Then, we pursued the ultralight hiking market, and applied what we learned about durability to ultralight backpacks and packing systems. We are still known for the engineering we put into every design to make it light, durable, and comfortable, as well as functional. We have three Editor's Choice awards from Backpacker Magazine, and a Gear of the Year Award from Outside Magazine, both of which are the gold standard in the outdoor industry. But we never forgot how to make something bombproof. Today, we incorporate this philosophy into all categories of Granite Gear product which also include campus bags and travel gear.
Q. Who is Granite Gear for?
A. Ultralight hikers, canoe trippers, special forces, travelers, and those commuting to work and campus! Basically anyone who needs a well-thought-out, durable product for packing, hiking, traveling or paddling.
Q. We adore all the Granite Gear ambassadors; they truly are heros and our kind of celebrity. Tell us more about your mission and the people that support it.
A. We have a roster of truly world-class athletes that help us design and test our products in some of the most harsh conditions on the planet. Take Lonnie Dupree, for example. He used our packs to circumnavigate Greenland, travel to the North Pole several times, the first solo winter summit of Denali, and many other expeditions. He is a great guy as well, promoting environmental awareness as he explores.
Justin "Trauma" Lichter has hiked over 30,000 miles in our packs, of which 10,000 miles were hiked in one single year with a single Granite Gear pack. That's 10,000 miles! More than several lifetimes worth of use for most of us mere mortals. Justin has written several books and is considered an authority on ultralight hiking, biking and travel. Whenever we design a new pack, he is the first to test the prototype so we can get a few thousand miles on it before it goes into production.
Eric Larsen uses our packs as well. He has gone to the north pole several times as well as the south pole, all unsupported. One year he traveled to the North Pole, South Pole, and summited Everest. He recently traveled to the North Pole on his Last North Expedition. He reminds us that the polar ice caps are diminishing, and through his first-hand experience shows us what it is like to travel in these harsh environments.
The Packing It Out team uses our multi-day backpacks and packing accessories on their thru-hikes of the AT and PCT, on which they pick up trash. Last year, they picked up 1,090 pounds of trash off the AT (things like mattresses, eye lash curlers, tires, etc.). This year, they plan on tackling the PCT with the same mission.
We also have a team of Go Getters. These are every day folks, and fans of Granite Gear, who love a good adventure and get out as much as they can. From thru-hikes to day hikes to mountain tops, when these folks decide they've got to go somewhere, they get there. We're proud to follow along and support their activities.
They're all amazing to us. Read about them on granitegear.com.
Q. All the packs have great names. Where are they derived from?
A. Most of the names are from local areas. We started this tradition in the early days, with the Superior and Quetico portage packs, and continue it today with names like the Lutsen, our newest ultralight pack.
Q. What's on the radar for Granite Gear? We want to stay tuned!
A. We've got a lot of great ideas brewing for new world-class gear, and as we do that we want to stay true to our roots in northern Minnesota! Like us on Facebook, follow us Twitter, and Instagram and subscribe to our online newsletter at www.granitegear.com Thanks for the local support. It means a lot to all the folks here in Two Harbors!