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‘Older Than Penicillin’: Duluth Pack Celebrates 141 Years With Birthday Sale

The venerable Minnesota brand turns 141 on December 12. To mark the occasion, Duluth Pack is offering a buy one/get one gift card sale.

three generations of men wear Duluth packs(Photo/Duluth Pack)
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In a moment where new outdoor brands seem to show up weekly on Kickstarter, it’s noteworthy when a “legacy” brand like Patagonia keeps chugging after 50 years. So prepare to pick your jaw up off the floor — this year, Minnesota-based pack maker Duluth Pack turned 141.

To celebrate the occasion, the brand unveiled a celebratory sale, offering a $10 gift card with a $75 gift card purchase, a $25 gift card with a $150 gift card purchase, and a $75 gift card with a $350 gift card purchase.

You don’t survive for close to a century and a half in the outdoor industry without developing quite a reputation, and Duluth Pack made its name with sturdy, sewn-in-America canoe packs and accessories based on an aesthetic first realized by its founder, Camille Poirier. Duluth Pack also makes backpacks and apparel, all out of natural materials like canvas, waxed canvas, and leather.

It’s a look that gives a quintessentially American vibe — like something John Wesley Powell might carry along on a Grand Canyon expedition or that Walt Whitman might sling across his shoulders before venturing out into the woods for a writing session.

Call it patina-chic, call it lumbersexual, call it whatever you want — just don’t call it short-lived or disposable.

“We’re older than penicillin. We’re older than sliced bread,” Andrea Johnson, the public relations and social media spokesperson for Duluth Pack, told GearJunkie in an interview. “We’ve made it through two world wars, the Great Depression, the Great Recession, the global pandemic.”

a worker constructs a Duluth Pack
Duluth Packs makes each product by hand in Minnesota, with domestically sourced materials; (photo/Duluth Pack)

Heirlooms of a Simpler Time

Duluth Pack products sit at a premium price point, something for which the brand is unapologetic. That’s what you get when you make all your products in-country, using domestically sourced materials. Each bag stays in the hands of one maker from start to finish, with the exception of the occasional hand-pounded rivet. When a bag is finished, the craftsperson signs it like a work of art. And if you take a factory tour, you can meet the person who made your pack.

a leather duffel bag in a yellow forest
You don’t have to go canoeing to enjoy Duluth Pack’s products. The brand makes a suite of handy travel and lifestyle gear as well; (photo/Duluth Pack)

Calling the various bags and packs in the lineup “heirlooms,” Johnson pointed out that many of the brand’s customers pass the bags down from generation to generation. That’s possible because the materials and construction process used in Duluth Packs makes them relatively easy to repair.

“We’ve had some of our founder’s original packs that he made himself come in for repairs,” Johnson shared. “We say is we’re preserving history and we’re preserving memories for people too.”

Interested in checking out Duluth Pack’s lineup? You’ve got a lot to browse: once an item enters the brand’s catalog, it rarely leaves.

The Duluth Pack Kevin Hart lugs around in 2017’s “Jumanji” reboot is an essentially unchanged version of a Camille Poirier design.

Now that’s staying power — unlike Duluth’s gift card sale, which only lasts until December 17.

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