Our canoes of choice for this trip came from Merrimack Canoe Co. Merrimack began in 1954 the canoes have been built with great quality, style and attention to detail ever since. Merrimack was owned and run by the same family for three generations when retirement seemed at hand, the company was sold and has changed hands a few times over the past several years. This year, the folks behind Sanborn Canoe Co. were given the opportunity to take on the Merrimack brand and continue the story.

The first thing one notices is a Merrimack’s stunning good looks. Each boat is lined with thin cherry ribs and trimmed in cherry and ash hardwoods. It has the vintage look of a rib and plank canoe, yet comes in at half the weight. While the hardwoods aren’t light, the weight is saved in the composite hull. Carbon fiber and kevlar make for a durable yet lightweight canoe ranging from 40 to 58 pounds, depending on model.

We brought two Tennesseans and one Souhegan. Before this trip, we hadn’t had a chance to use any Merrimack canoes extensively so we were eager to try them out and they didn’t disappoint. The Tennesseans were paddled solo and kept pace well with the rest of the canoes being paddled tandem. Both the Tennesseans and the Souhegan were incredibly stable. Regardless of the wind or waves or size catfish on the line, there was never any thought of getting wet.

Merrimack canoes have been made by hand for over 60 years. While a few things have changed over the years, one thing has not. They are made with the discerning canoeist in mind. They are built to perform and look good doing it.

Check out the canoes - MERRIMACKCANOES.COM


I’d never used a canvas tent before, but I was blown away. The 10’x10’ Prairie Tent set up in just a few minutes with only 3 poles and 6 stakes. The quick set up was especially nice as we were chased from the water by a thunderstorm one afternoon. The wind picked up and the sky grew dark, but with an Ellis tent there’s nothing to worry about. You’ll beat the rain getting ready and once set-up, you may as well be indoors. It’s that stable and comfortable. When you’re trapped indoors for hours, the breathability of the canvas can’t be beat. These tents have been handcrafted in Durango, CO for over 25 years. Beyond the top notch performance, I didn’t know a tent could be beautiful.



Duluth Pack has been making packs in Duluth, MN since 1882 and really know their business. Thanks to their quality craftsmanship and thoughtful design, their packs are perfect for the canoeist. Being shorter and fatter than your typical hiking pack, they fit tightly side by side in canoe and sit low enough in the boat to avoid tippiness. To boot, the thick canvas is durable and forgiving of abuse. Duluth Pack is the oldest canvas and leather bag and pack maker in the USA. All products come with a lifetime guarantee.



Every morning at camp starts the same. Before minds are even awake, the body rises and sets to work. It gathers wood and splits it to kindling. A fire is lit and tended. Grounds are measured. Water is gathered and set over the fire to percolate. All is done instinctively for a single goal: coffee! Our friends at Dogwood Coffee made sure we were stocked up for this trip. Their coffees range from wild and complex to deliciously drinkable. Whichever style you choose, their dedication to quality is obvious. Dogwood coffees are the perfect way to enjoy the start of the day whether you’re on the trail or at home.

Get your coffee fix - DOGWOODCOFFEE.COM


A surprise last minute addition to our Montana trip was from Big Sky Brewing. Canoeing the Missouri River requires thoughtful packing since all drinking water must be brought along. Our canoes were already full, but when Big Sky offered to support our trip, we made space and hit the water with nearly 20 gallons of beer. We were supplied with a variety of styles, including their famous Moose Drool. The crowd favorite was their Pygmy Owl Itty Bitty IPA. There isn’t much in this world more relaxing than floating a river with your feet kicked up and a cold one in hand. Of course, we likely would have survived the journey without beer, but what would have been the point:)


PHOTOS BY:  Graeme Owsianski,  Chris Chapman,  Peter Boysen  & Mark Boysen

SPECIAL THANKS TO:  Ellis Canvas Tents,  Duluth Pack  & Dogwood Coffee

ALSO:  Big Sky Brewing  & Behring Made Knives