When you need outdoor gear, Red Rock is your main supplier. Not only do we stock and sell camping, fishing, and canoeing equipment, we also know a lot about it and how to use it. We’d think nothing in going toe to toe with our big competitors who have the customer relations “trained staff” assisting you in some big-box mega-aisle.When wandering around the sales floor, we actually use the stuff we sell whenever we have the chance so we can give you our honest opinions. Nothing beats field testing outdoor equipment in real conditions. We test, we try it, and if we don’t like it, we don’t offer it for sale. If we really like a piece of outdoor gear, we’ll tell you all about it and how it might enhance your adventure. We’ll also tell you if it won’t work for you despite the possibility of losing the sale.
When it comes to canoes, Redrock is the flat-out expert. Yes, it sounds bold, but not only do we have several decades of Boundary Waters canoeing experience in actual outfitting and guiding, we actually thoroughly understand how these beautiful, functional kevlar watercraft work and what you can expect on the water across many different makes and models. From initial construction to shiny new hull, not all canoes are created equally, nor do they all act the same when you are paddling one. This is perhaps the single, biggest assumption and mistake made by 85% of all canoe owners. The differences between hulls and how the canoes handle on the water are by far the most important aspects of any canoe. While light carrying weight for handling on portages and car-topping is almost always the major impetus for buying a new kevlar canoe, the usual incorrect assumption is that all canoes are the same. It is not unusual for that particular assumption to be made by long-time paddlers, self-pronounced canoeing experts and outfitters alike. It can prove to be quite expensive when rough water presents itself and you are stuck in it. Light weight is the allure, but handling on the water is the ultimate necessity in canoes followed closely by durability. Souris River Canoes provides these three features better than all other canoe brands made, period.
I’ll admit that there is a seemingly endless supply canoeing gear that people like to get, along with all sorts of paddles and designs. Everything is available from lightweight carbon fiber paddles to excellent quality spruce, beechnut, butternut, and other exotic woods. We sell them all and like a fine piece of art, some of our customers buy mainly because the paddle is gorgeous and still functional. But in the end, a paddle is a flat board with a handle on the end of it. Sure, there is balance and again, the lightest weight is what many seek because they buy into the marketing that says “every stroke you take with one ounce more of weight adds up to lifting several unnecessary pounds of paddle per day.” While that may be true, what is wrong with a little swing weight and the prospect of building some upper-body strength? We’re talking ounces here, not pounds and a super-light paddle feels every single bit of wind when you return to your stroke. I, myself, find that annoying. I like a paddle with swing weight for a rhythm since I’m never in a canoe race. Plus, it’s far too hard to kill a beaver with a super light paddle. Remember to use the edge and not the flat when striking. (kidding)
At Red Rock, we understand our outdoor gear in great depth.
Fishing equipment is another region where our selection and experience can contribute to our customer’s overall satisfaction. Like our canoes, we test out our fishing gear from rods and reels to lures – lots of lures. We mainly try the more obscure lures to see how they hold up against the marketing of the mainstream tackle. Don’t get me wrong, Rapala makes some excellent tackle but if all you ever use is Rapala – and that is the case for zillions of fishermen – you may be missing out on some truly great tackle like Salmo and Ugly Duckling. My advice has always been to “try all the tackle in your box when you know the fish are biting”. Today is not your last day of fishing and if you know that walleyes are below and hitting chartreuse Shad Raps, stop using them. Put on a Salmo Hornet or an Ugly Duckling and make a pass through the hole. THAT’S when you test out the tackle in your box. But, everybody does the exact opposite. When the fish aren’t biting, I’ve heard this saying countless times: “We threw everything in the tackle box at them and nothing would bite. All this other tackle is junk.” (That’s after admitting that chartreuse Shad Raps weren’t working either.) If you test your tackle the correct way – when the fish are biting actively – you will learn valuable information about your fishing equipment. If that doesn’t do it for you, I used to guide in the Boundary Waters Canoes Area Wilderness for almost 25 years. I’ve caught wallhangers, and micro fish on boatloads of live bait. But, now in my older years, I’ve sworn off the live bait. Artificial lures are so good these days, I just don’t see the need. We’ve tested leeches and spinners trolling up against everything from Baker Lures to Salmo to Ugly Ducklings along with Senkos, Yum and Storm plastics. Artificial lures pulls out ahead especially when you factor in the cost. Live bait always croaks. You need to keep it cool but inevitably you end up forgetting the crawlers in the sun. Plus, you need to change the water on the minnows and now with all the invasive species rules coming out in Minnesota, you have to carry fresh water in your vehicle to change out the minnow water before you drive away from the lake on which you just spent the day. And, I didn’t even address the cost of the bait, yet.
With hard and soft-bodied lures in your fishing equipment array, at day’s end, you put them in your tackle box and go home. If you leave them on the seat in the scorching sun, who cares? They are the un-dead and they catch fish over and over without the need for sticking a hook through a crawler and having to wash your hands off. The time you save alone with artificial lures is huge. And, you can save even more money while increasing your catch if you take advantage of testing tackle that is not in the super-big-name categories. That is why I do so and you can, as well.
Another really big category for Red Rock in fishing equipment lies in ice fishing. From lures to electronics to ice fishing suits by Striker (not well known but the absolute best) to Ice Armor (very well known and nice but doesn’t compare to Striker in the least) to HT Polar Fire (not known at all but an outstanding value in ice fishing gear), we stock the gear for ice fishing that will hold up to the brutal conditions.
Camping equipment is another area in which we are quite comfortable particularly for use in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota. But, with the exception of how one travels, camping still remains camping. One still needs a tent, a sleeping bag appropriate to the temperature, a sleeping pad, a cook kit, food, campstove, kitchen tools, a carrying system (packsacks), and living equipment like a tarp, saw, firestarters, compass, flashlight water bottles and a water filter system. Keep in mind that there are endless ways to skin this cat with tools and doodads designed (in theory) to improve the rustic life of camp while keeping down bulk and weight. The traveling part that leads you to camp can be a canoe, your feet or your car. I suppose there are other methods of travel, but most people do not camp by bus or airplane. If they did, the camping part would remain pretty much the same. In Minnesota’s Boundary Waters, it’s all about canoe camping and our equipment does reflect some inherent canoeing details, but the similarities across modes of travel still permeate the available products for camping equipment.. For the most part, camping gear is usable where ever camping can be done from your backyard to the Rocky Mountains. At Red Rock, our outdoor camping gear is comprised of things we like more so than things which get all the heavy marketing. We also design some of our own gear for use in the Boundary Waters such as the Red Rock Super Pack. Be advised that all of this gear could easily be used in river rafting trips or out in the desert. It doesn’t HAVE to be only used in the Boundary Waters as many people incorrectly conclude. It’s like ice fishing. For some reason, many seasoned fishermen conclude that certain ice fishing lures cannot be used in open water. We hear it all the time at Red Rock, “Oh, but that’s for ice fishing.” But, the Moonshine Shiver Minnow, which was designed for ice fishing (and remains a relatively unknown lure but for smaller circles) was used in the summer and caught an $86,000 prize at Lake Michigan walleye tournament. What difference does it make if your ice fishing hole is 8 inches or 5 miles in diameter? The exact same principle applies to camping gear. Why can’t you take a #4 Kondos Pack to Colorado for a camping trip? Who said your Gransfors Bruks Small Forest Axe won’t work in Maine? At Red Rock, if we are able to have dual purpose gear, we are all over that because it just makes sense.
When you are shopping and deciding what to buy, I invite you to always remember that there are at least 5 ways to get the same job done and they always vary in expense and efficiency to you, the end user. We are aware of that and supply our camping, canoeing, and fishing equipment along those parameters and we don’t always buy into the whole “name-brand marketing” thing. Sure, a lot of name-brand items are excellent products and we don’t hesitate to offer them for sale. But by only sticking with things you recognize, you could be selling yourself short by investing in products bearing flashy cardboard cut-outs as testament to their effectiveness as so many big box retailers display in their aisles. They want your money. We want your business. Another big difference between Red Rock and big box retailers is that they aren’t willing to deviate from the easiest path to getting your money. They’ll lead you around by your nose through displays of slick celebrity testimonials. At Red Rock, we consider it our mission to show you something you haven’t seen or tried before to possibly maximize your play time while providing better value to you. That’s how we’d want it done for us. There are literally tons of great fishing lures, camping gear, ice fishing equipment and open water gear out there which can get the job done quite very nicely and for less money in many instances. So, some so-called “ spiffy, new, equipment or lure” might just be the result of a marketing ploy disguised as a huge benefit to you when in reality, it’s still a canoe paddle or crankbait. Name brand recognition is fine, but know that with a little bit of shopping/research, you might find something better and for less money. And, as well, for a few dollars more, you might find a piece of equipment that is light years ahead of the well-known as far as function, durability and warranty. It all comes down to shopping for outdoor gear and we pride ourselves in our information and knowledge of outdoor equipment.
So, we invite you to visit our site and all of our blogs for information that hopefully you will find useful in the areas of canoeing, camping, and fishing not only in northern Minnesota but also worldwide. Have a great day!