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Empire Canvas Works Outdoor Apparel

Empire Canvas Works Outdoor Apparel Empire Canvas Works Outdoor Apparel
4337 Tioga Street
Duluth MN 55804
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Contact Person: Beth and Kevin Kinney
Phone: (218) 525-9836

Empire Canvas Works does not exist to replicate the technology-laden garb you see on retail shelves. They believe their task is to harness the steady function of natural fibers, and blend it with a few modern traits that ensure comfort and durability. They believe that your garments, handwear, and footwear should work the same way, every day, despite age, wear, and exposure to the elements. Their goal is to sell you a great product - once. Your task is to wear your mitten palms smooth on the Hickory of an axe, collect generations of puppy hair on your vest, and listen as the tight fibers of your anorak sing quietly against the brush for miles on end.

Ask a rancher why he or she depends on a Canvas field coat to shield them from the wind. A seasoned hunting guide probably wears an Oilskin rain shell. It's no secret why cold water commercial fishermen wear sweaters knitted from Wool. Look at the hands of any construction worker or tradesman who works outdoors, and they'll have a pair of well used Leather gloves. We credit scientists, textile manufacturers, and designers for putting outdoor sports within reach of everyone by offering affordable, high performance synthetic products. But they've worked for decades to tweak fabrics, and breed out the inherent quirks that hamper long term performance, inhibit cleaning, and limit the lifespan of the garments and accessories they build. But Mother Nature helped us cope with the weather before the discovery of petroleum.

Empire Canvas Works was founded by Duane and Margot Lottig in 1994, and named for the vast Empire Swamp region of Northwestern Wisconsin. Inspired by the ways of nomadic cultures, they used this diverse and remote wilderness as a proving ground to refine an elegant and efficient set of tools for cold weather travel. Modern camping techniques leave a winter enthusiast shivering in a bulky synthetic cocoon, but the well seasoned Snowtrekker tours in comfort. By teaming a toboggan with snowshoes this traveler can haul their bodyweight in gear. The capacity of a sled allows you to camp in a roomy tent with a woodstove for heat. (Imagine cooking in a t-shirt when it's 40 below.) The Lottigs set the benchmark for performance in cold weather shelters, hauling systems, and apparel. Their blend of old and new ideas has enhanced high latitude travel around the world.

Beth and Kevin Kinney are a pair of yarn dyed enthusiasts who's love of the outdoors is surpassed only by a need to work with the fabrics that served generations before them. They've had the pleasure of making ECW clothing for years, so they agreed to carry the Lottig's work forward. They'll continue on with Snowtrekker Tents, but since 2006, the Empire Canvas Works sign has hung on our shop in the quiet Lakeside neighborhood of Duluth, MN.

Beth and Kevin are industry veterans, outdoor instructors, and lifelong advocates of dirty fingernails and grass stains. Their yard is littered with boats, and their shed stuffed with bikes and skis. While they appreciate the performance edge that long chain polymers offer for fast moving activities, they begin each day with strong coffee and an deep appreciation of the raw materials around them. The moist and oily smell of wool, the lumps in woven cotton, and the scars they find on their hides may seem like flaws in comparison to the monolithic character of pack cloth or fleece. They revere them as reminders of the history they bear, and the durability that has kept them in use despite the unbelievable strength of Aramids, the insulating properties of high loft filaments, or the ability of laminates to withstand hurricane forces pushing water droplets through their carefully engineered pores. At Empire Canvas Works, their philosophy is simple: they take full advantage of what mother nature has provided, and add a bit of modernity to ensure a good fit and easy care. Then they pass it on so your children can steal it from you. They believe their job is to make things that really last. You're charged with keeping a watchful eye on your closet.

Traditional textiles. Timeless performance. Hand crafted in Northern Minnesota.

Made in the USA, made in Minnesota, made in Duluth.

Tours Available: No
Brick & Mortar: No
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Date added: 30.8.2008  
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