Local Outdoor Small Businesses in the Twin Cities

people paddling two canoes on a lake; one features a Bending Branches paddle
Bending Branches, though not in the Twin Cities, is a close neighbor—they make world-class canoe and kayak paddles

It’s hard not to miss the REIs, Cabelas and the other outdoor big boys around the Twin Cities metro. But our area also has plenty of locally-owned smaller outdoor businesses.

Here at Twin Cities Outdoors we want to highlight these small businesses for you so you can support them!

Outdoor Recreation is a Booming Industry in Minnesota

According to this latest study from Outdoor Industry Association (as of March 2019), the outdoor industry provides 140,000 direct jobs for Minnesotans, $4.5 billion in wages and salaries, and $16.7 billion in consumer spending.

In fact, the report goes on to say that more Minnesotans depend on the outdoor industry for their livelihood than in the hospital and health care system! (source)

Grey Duck paddle boards from above
Grey Duck Outdoor makes paddle boards and canoes

Minnesotans Like to Get Outside

It makes sense that the outdoor industry is so strong here when we see this next statistic: 70% of Minnesotans participate in outdoor recreation each year. That’s 21% higher than the national average of 49%.

Shop Your Local Outdoors Small Businesses

Unless we know about local businesses, we can’t support them. And that doesn’t just mean retailers. There are local manufacturers, outdoor travel and adventure companies, and publishers.

The ones we’ll feature here on TCO are those that focus on the nature-based, human-powered activities we cover.

We’ll list those in the Twin Cities area, but also expand outward to the rest of Minnesota and into western Wisconsin. Since many of these are destination-based businesses or have an online store, you’ll want to know about them, too.

Twin Cities Kayaking with kayaks on the beach
Twin Cities Kayaking offers kayak rentals for several area lakes and rivers

Local Independent Outdoor Small Business Directory

  • AQUA-BOUND—Award-winning kayak and SUP paddle manufacturer for all budgets and skill levels
  • BENDING BRANCHES—World-class, award-winning canoe, kayak and kayak fishing paddles, hand-crafted
  • COOKE CUSTOM SEWING—Portage packs, shelters and more for wilderness canoeing and other outdoor adventures
  • ENJOY SUP—SUP paddle classes, SUP fitness and SUP yoga instruction
  • FRESH AIR FLØRT—Color-coded beanies, pins and stickers
  • GREY DUCK OUTDOOR—Maker of fine paddle boards and canoes sold all over the world
  • PADDLE BRIDGE GUIDE COLLECTIVE—Paddle Bridge is a kayak touring company that also offers kayak lessons.
  • POLAR MITTS—Handmade and super warm mittens, hats and scarves
  • REGAN MOVES—Nutrition and gentle exercise programs for those with chronic conditions
  • STORM CREEK—Eco-friendly outdoor performance apparel
  • TWIN CITIES KAYAKING—Kayak rentals, paddling lessons, kayak tours
  • WOODED NOMAD—Camping and outdoor gear for rent and rent-to-own

Out-State Outdoor Business Directory

While not located in the metro area, a large part of the customer base of these businesses is folks from the Twin Cities:

This page will be updated regularly…

Take a look at our Digital Guide Series