With the long-awaited arrival of summer in the North comes a rite of passage: the opening of the cabin. Not long after the last chance of a May snowfall, northbound lanes are clogged with all manner of vehicle, some towing fishing boats, roof racks with mountain bikes and canoes, many headed for a corner of paradise on one of the thousands of cold lakes that form a bulwark against Canada. Water gets turned on, the mice chased out and dusty curtains drawn back to let the sun in after a long winter’s dormancy. This will be the weekend home until Labor Day.
Summer may be short but the days are long here, which is good because there’s much to do: wood to be split, books to be read and lunkers to be caught. When the sun finally disappears somewhere close to 10 o’clock, the stars come out and constellations are best seen lying on your back on a dock with a blanket and a bottle of bug dope handy. If you’re lucky, the Northern Lights will make an appearance. Put away the iPhone, pull out a flask of something strong to pass and tell good stories. Cabin weekends are timeless and precious here. Everyone has a memory of weekends at the cabin — and they all run together in a sort of collective Northern unconscious of pancakes for breakfast, a sudden storm on the lake, relentless mosquitoes, shooting stars and the raccoon on the roof.
Make the most of your weekends this summer because before you know it, you’ll be raking leaves, donning polar fleece and turning the water off again. Until then, here’s some gear to help you make the most of your weekends at the cabin.
Topo Designs Mountain Jacket
Styled after the classic mountaineering shells of the past, the American-made Mountain Jacket is made from water-resistant ripstop nylon and features ample pockets and a visored hood to fend off a sudden downpour.
Best American Duffel #3 for Askov Finlayson
Made in Seattle and long the favorite of world-class explorers like Will Steger, the BAD #3 Duffel has been honed to meet the most demanding expectations. Urethane coating, 6,000-pound break strength straps and double-stitched, seam-taped panels, the bag is guaranteed for life, making it more than up to the task of hauling gear to the cabin. This one was specially made for Askov Finlayson, in the brand’s blue/black livery with subtle logo tabs.
Frost River Beer Cozy
Waxed-canvas-wrapped foam insulates your can of Hamm’s while keeping your hand warm and dry. Made in Duluth, Minnesota.
Tudor Heritage Ranger
Tudor’s Heritage line draws on the brand’s legacy of functional, durable watches for inspiration — and the Ranger is a pure tool. Its 41mm case and legible luminous dial wrap around a Swiss automatic movement that is accurate even when you’re on vacation.
Askov Finlayson Vermillion Shorts
Named for a legendary lake in northern Minnesota, these shorts are the cut-off version of Askov’s best-selling pants of the same name. Made in the USA with Japanese fabrics, the shorts have a double-lined seat of contrasting color for added durability when riding in a canoe all day. These aren’t just the shorts for this summer’s cabin weekends — you’ll be wearing these for many summers to come. Just go easy on the beer; they fit true to size.
Danner Mountain Trail Boots
Styled after classic alpine boots, the American-made Mountain Trail boots are as well suited for the trails of the North as they are the steeps of the Alps. Full-grain leather, speed lacing to the toe and a heavy lugged sole also look good when you come into town to resupply and grab a pint.
Sanborn Canoe Company Artisan Paddle
A cabin on a lake needs a canoe and a canoe needs a paddle. Toss out that tired old aluminum one and pick up one of Sanborn’s colorful Artisans, which will look just as good leaning in the corner as it will breaking the surface of a lake. Built with the narrow blade of classic Voyaguers’ paddles, there’s no better paddle with which to master the elusive J-stroke.
Rock the Shack: The Architecture of Cabins, Cocoons and Hide-Outs
Between chores you’re going to need some reading material. This exquisite book, which is full of photos of cabins from around the world, will inspire you to renovate your existing cottage or go out and buy a new one.