this company started 250 years ago, kind of.

Back then, old-world craftsmen, trappers, miners and makers who bore our last names came to the North Woods to start anew. Turns out, our work ethic is a hand-me-down. Our grandfathers gave it to our fathers, who in turn passed it on to us. They knew what we know: deep forests, driving rains, drifting snows and rock-strewn portages do a great job of helping you sort out your character and find the parts of you that really matter.

Today, we build our bags to the standards of those who came before. We took generations of necessity and turned it into something that is somehow new and old at the same time. A new tradition. An old innovation. Either way you describe us, the people who know us will know what you’re talking about.


The Old Way is the only way to make a true canoe pack.

“The Frost River has a smattering of everything—large and small lakes, beautiful falls, winding beaver streams and high beaver dams, tough, poorly-maintained portages, canoeable rapids and adventurous options. It is by far my favorite route in the Boundary Waters.” — Cliff Jacobson

Canoe packs are built for a very specific task (hauling the stuff that will sustain you) in a very specific environment (the Northern Wilderness). In this setting, things like a seam ripping or a sidewall tearing or a strap breaking—little failures that would be an annoyance in everyday life—come with huge consequences.

Which is why we make every pack and every bag in the manner we know to be the most effective at delivering superior performance—The Old Way.

Our forefathers—the loggers and trappers and traders and adventurers who called the deep North Woods home—relied on their packs to perform in unforgiving and unrelenting environs. That expectation, that urgency for performance, was passed on to us.

Some people inherit money.
We were fortunate enough to inherit a legacy.

Made without compromise from the highest quality components.



Martexin Original Wax is an authentic American product that has stood the test of time and has outfitted American workers, farmers, explorers, fighters and outdoorsmen for many generations.  The Martin family has been involved in the dyeing and finishing of textiles in the United States since 1838. It is the best canvas available, and we stand behind it.


The leather in our straps and reinforcements comes from the SB Foot Tannery in Red Wing, Minnesota. In 1872, Silas Buck Foot began tanning leather to provide high grade footwear for fellow Minnesotans to stay warm in the winter.  In 1905 the Foot family partnered with what will become Red Wing shoes. The partnership remains to this day.


The flapstraps on our canoe packs are double reinforced… riveted and sewn.  The straps hold the pack closed and often bear the weight of the pack as it is lifted into and out of a canoe.  They are relied upon and must hold, therefore we ensure the security of the connection by both riveting and sewing it.

Solid brass hardware

All of the buckles, snaps, slides, and D-rings on Frost River packs and bags are solid brass.  It matters because Frost River stuff will outlast brass plating.  Instead of turning steel grey the hardware will develop a old world brass patina.  It’s the way it’s meant to be- and has a great sound.

Deerhide Buckskin

We use premium deerhide buckskin on our choppers, mitts and leather padded shoulder straps. It’s a supple, durable, and natural material that is sourced from wild deerhides taken during hunting seasons in the US. Most of our hides come from the Midwest. There will be some natural scars, scratches and imperfections in the leather. This is normal, and not a defect, adding character to our Reliable Softgoods.



  1. Compromise.
  2. Throw something away that can be repaired.
  3. Repair something not worth repairing.
  4. Take shortcuts.
  5. Waste a bunch of time making a one-off custom bag for someone. We have some flexibility in the bags we make and will happily talk to you about customizing an existing Frost River bag design (fill out our contact form) to meet your specific requests, but we don’t do start-from-scratch custom bags. Apologies.
  6. Oversell our inventory. We strive to have our inventory keep pace with sales, so the bag you want is available when you want it – or be assured we’re making goods nearly everyday… we’ll get yours out to you as soon as possible.
  7. Apologize for our prices or policies.
  8. Take ourselves too seriously.