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The History Of The Tumpline | Duluth Pack

Our founder was a French-Canadian immigrant by the name of Camille Poirier. He began his career as a shoemaker but, when he moved to Duluth, he saw a need for a new pack design among trappers, traders, and lumber workers that would be rugged enough to last the harsh Minnesotan conditions. Thus, the Poirier Pack Sack - aka The Duluth Pack was born. Duluth Pack, as it would eventually be known, was founded in 1882 and been handcrafting the packs the same way ever since. The Poirier Pack Sack, now the #3 Orginal Duluth Pack canoe pack was not the only item patented in 1882, the tumpline shared that patent as well.

What is a tumpline, you might ask? A tumpline is a forehead sling strap for carrying a load on a back, with a strap that passes across the top of the person's head. The creation of the tumpline was to remove extra weight off the shoulders along with keeping the neck and back align. 

The origin of the tumpline dates back thousands of years ago. For example, it is stated that they were utilized during the construction of the Great Pyramids - built around 2500 B.C. Indigenous populations of Mexico and Central America also used tumplines to haul things like large baskets, firewood, and other heavy loads.

How does it work? In this case, our tumplines connect to the mid-section of your pack and loop upward. While wearing your Duluth Pack, you place the tumpline on the top portion (where someone would begin balding) of the forehead and lean forward. The burden of the weight is now distributed across the back as opposed to the shoulders alone.

Today, our tumpline design has expanded into multiple canoe pack styles. When you're going on a longer canoe or camping trip, you want to be sure that you have everything to survive in the wilderness comfortably. This amounts to a lot of gear. Having a large pack with a tumpline as extra support for the weight can make fifty pounds feel much less.

It's amazing how such a small detail added to our packs have contributed to such a large part of our history. While Duluth Pack is not the inventor on the tumpline, we are the first to patent it. Duluth Pack is proudly the oldest canvas and leather bag and pack manufacturer in the United States of America. For 138 years, we have been proudly handcrafting the highest quality of outdoor gear for any adventure. Buy it once. Have it for life.


Happy adventuring, friends!