Midwest Mountaineering can trace its origins back to 1970, when avid rock climber Rod Johnson found himself frustrated with the lack of climbing equipment available in Minneapolis. When Johnson returned from a voyage to California with a backpack full of gear, he decided to sell his accumulated goodies to friends and local climbers out of his own kitchen, calling his operation The Johnson Company. As his business grew, so did its inventory—expanding to include tents, skis, kayaks, and canoes. Rod’s business quickly became too big for his kitchen, eventually landing at its current location under the name Midwest Mountaineering.
Today, the store continues to equip outdoor adventurers with quality gear and apparel. A cheerful blue-and-red sign splays across its historic storefront, which houses racks of apparel and specialty equipment for an array of extreme sports that includes long-distance backpacking, paddling, and ice climbing. Kayaks and canoes, which customers may try out before purchasing during regular boat demonstrations, dangle from ceilings next to life preservers, and shoes, coats, and athletic gear line the exposed-brick walls. An enthusiastic staff of outdoor aficionados stands by to offer customers tips on finding optimal products and the best clothing lines to impress fashion-conscious wildlife, as well as lead regular instructional workshops, hands-on clinics, and special events.
Since opening in 1895, the Hoigaard family and its eponymous shop has been supplying nature lovers with the equipment and apparel necessary to make a playground out of the great outdoors. Today, third- and fourth-generation Hoigaards run the shop alongside a staff of camping aficionados and skilled craftspeople. Their expertise comes in handy as they dress fellow outdoorsfolk in a selection of belts, jackets, shoes, and boots from brand-name manufacturers such as Patagonia, White Sierra, FiveFingers, and The North Face. A collection of outdoor gear––including tents, bicycles, sleeping bags, and canoes––is available for rent or purchase, and the shop's staff repairs damaged equipment in their onsite repair and service shop. They also perform tune-ups for snowboards, skis, and inline skates, and split bicycles into two separate unicycles upon request.
Walleye casts out eight annual issues packed with tips and techniques from some of the country's most successful anglers. A year's worth of professional guidance and product reviews fill tackle-box-themed mailboxes, arming fishermen and controversial fishers of men with the necessary tools to hone in on targets like professional bears. Coverage of annual fishing events follows famous fish hunters across countless red carpets, and interviews with champion anglers lend insight to all levels of line casters.
Most inflatable stand-up paddleboards are 4 inches thick, but Metro Lakes Marina and Rentals’ stand-up paddleboards measure a military-grade 6 inches thick, riding ride high in the water and never sagging in the middle. The team’s eye for details like this extends to their watercrafts, too. Their jet skis, for example, are all 2013 models from Yamaha and Sea Doo, and cushioned pontoons ferry you and up to 11 friends or mannequins posed as friends across Lake Minnetonka. To ensure safe navigation of the waters, pontoon drivers receive operating instructions and a map of the lake before shoving off.
Anglers can also hunt fish species from large-mouth bass to muskies aboard the company’s fishing boats. Fishermen and women shouldn’t get too attached to their hauls; however, because Metro Lakes Marina and Rentals adheres to catch-and-release practices.
The snow-dusted, icy lakes around Minneapolis sprawl like white deserts, indistinguishable from the shoreline beneath powdery blankets. With practiced eye and sure footsteps, Metro Lakes Fish House Rental, LLC's guides traverse the seemingly barren expanses, finding the spots most likely to conceal fish. They drill through the ice, erecting ready-made ice fishing cabins around themselves as the work. Their portable houses comfortably seat up to eight people, and come equipped with rods, bait, and portable TVs to keep guests entertained.
Gander Mountain Academy updates its lessons in gun safety, handling, and marksmanship with virtual shooting technology that was once only available to military and law-enforcement agencies. The ladies-only basic fundamentals class gives women a foundation in the mechanics of handguns and how to use them safely. Students start by winnowing down the right type of gun for their needs, be they self-defense, hunting, or reclaiming the garage from infestations of gremlins. Next, instructors with callused trigger fingers explain the safety rules of handguns, compare ammunition options, and demonstrate proper grip, stance, and trigger control.