By Trent Jonas
Getting outside is a favorite pastime in the North Star State. And one of the best ways to dive deep into all that nature has to offer is camping. However, as any pro will tell you, camping without the right equipment is just foolhardy. You need gear to do it—especially in a state where conditions can change in an instant and a 30 or 40-degree daily temperature change is not unusual. Fortunately, Minnesota has some great stores where you can not only get the gear you need but also get good advice about the right equipment and how to use. Here are seven essential camping gear retailers in the state.
REI is the state’s—and probably the country’s—premier outdoor retailer for camping gear. They have three Minnesota locations in Roseville, Maple Grove, and their flagship store in Bloomington. A huge selection of camping gear, from tents and sleeping bags to backpacks and sporks, combined with knowledgeable staff who are always happy to guide you in your gear quest make REI an essential store. In addition to their own high-quality house brand, they also carry many renowned brands like Mountain Hardwear, Big Agnes, Osprey, and MSR. REI also offers classes on camping and wilderness skills.
Piragis is a premier outfitter for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). In addition to permits, canoe rentals, and a ton of good advice, they also have a retail operation that sells new and used gear from respected outdoor brands like Nemo Equipment, Sea to Summit, and Sierra Designs. If you don’t want to drive to Ely to grab your gear, you can order online from their Boundary Waters Catalog.
Before REI made it to Minnesota, a frustrated rock climber took matters into his own hands and opened Midwest Mountaineering, a beloved Twin Cities institution for almost half a century. Their carefully-selected staff is made up of industry veterans and outdoor enthusiasts. Their camping department has a deep selection of tents, packs, and gear that anyone from a Superior Hiking Trail thru-hiker to a car-camping family can use.
Waiting patiently while mom gets fitted for a new pack. Thanks, Paul, @midwest_mountaineering for spending so much time with us! We are excited for our next #roadchip! #osprey . . . . #ospreypacks #midwestmountaineering #dogsofmsp #dogswhohike #sidewalkdog #dogfriendlyinside #dogs #dogswhocamp #ruffwear #kensiearnolddesigns #adventuredog #bringfido #camping #mymn #onlyinmn #mpls #mwmoutdoors #minnesotadog #exploremn
Poised at the eastern end of the Gunflint Trail, Grand Marais is a launching point for many North Woods camping adventures. If you’re looking to pick up some last-minute camping necessities—whether for your BWCAW canoe voyage, Superior Hiking Trail trek, or your state park campground site—Lake Superior Trading Post is a place where you’ll find a solid selection of gear. A range of equipment from brands like Coghlan’s, Camelbak, and Hydro Flask will help keep your camping adventure on track.
Joe’s Sporting Goods is a locally-owned outdoor store with a lot of floor space. They’ve been a go-to spot for camping gear for more than half a century because they have a big selection to match the size of the store. You’ll find tents, sleeping bags and everything in between—from brands like the North Face and Marmot —along with a friendly and knowledgeable staff at Joe’s.
Folks in southeast Minnesota can find a solid selection of camping gear at Tyrol Ski & Sports in Rochester. Whether you’re looking for a tent or a headlamp, a water filter or topo map—or all of the above—Tyrol will likely have it. They carry top-quality brands like Granite Gear, Petzl, and Klean Kanteen, so you’ll know that you’ve got the best gear for your next camping adventure. If you’re new to camping or not ready to make a big initial investment, they also offer equipment rentals.
Camping gear is not cheap. And outfitting from scratch can result in a pretty hefty price tag. Fortunately, there’s Repair Lair. Not only will they (as the name implies) repair your well-worn gear, they also sell used gear. Because their carefully-curated inventory tends to turn over, it’s a good idea to pop in on the regular and see what’s new. Get big-brand names like Kelty or Patagonia for a fraction of the price.