(BPT) - Planning a trip to Ely this winter but aren't sure you have the right gear to keep toasty warm in the cold? Don't worry! We've got you covered. Ely is home to two of the best manufacturers of winter outerwear on the planet: Steger Mukluks and Moccasins, and Wintergreen Northern Wear. If you don't have the jacket or boots that you need, you can find them in Ely.
Both Steger Mukluks and Wintergreen have become synonymous with northwoods style. They are distinctive, beautiful and, most importantly, do the job.
Steger Mukluks and Moccasins
Whether you're snowshoeing, dogsledding or simply walking outside in the winter in Ely, the perfect pair of boots for any winter activity is made by Steger Mukluks. The mukluks are as light and comfortable as slippers, but are twice as warm as any boot you'll ever find. According to their website, the mukluks are made in the traditional Northern Cree Indian style using moose hide.
The light weight of the boots surprises people used to big, heavy, clunky winter footwear. But, as it says on the website, heavier doesn't mean warmer. It means aching legs and back.
It all came to be when owner Patti Steger was on an arctic dogsled expedition in 1982-1983, focusing on native culture and skills. There, she wore her first pair of mukluks, was blown away by their warmth and comfort, and learned to sew the mukluks from the native women in the area.
When she got back to Ely, Steger began sewing mukluks for people who provided their own leather. The company has grown since then, and now produces 14,000 pairs of footwear a year from their factory in Ely.
The mukluks have seen more than their fair share of publicity over the years. They were worn by numerous expeditions to the north and south poles and on the Iditarod in Alaska. They've been featured on the news, magazines and in television shows and movies like Northern Exposure and Iron Will.
Wintergreen Northern Wear
You've probably seen Wintergreen's signature design: a fleece anorak with distinctive embroidered trim, and a matching wind shell. It's all about the layering. The fleece provides the warmth and wicks away moisture, the wind shell blocks the wind.
Are they warm? Put it this way, Wintergreen has been to the arctic and back. In 1983, famed arctic explorer Will Steger asked fellow adventurer Paul Schurke to co-lead the first unsupported expedition to the North Pole. Paul's wife Sue volunteered to design and sew the clothing for all the team members, based on traditional Inuit clothing with a Scandinavian twist, two cultures that know a little bit about staying warm in the cold.
The expedition reached the north pole by dogsled, and was featured in National Geographic wearing Sue's distinctive jackets and hats. And the business was born. The Schurkes sold Wintergreen in 2009, but the new owners went out of business just a few years later. Sue was heartbroken to see the business fall apart so she repurchased much of the equipment at auction and started over. By 2015, she once again owned the name and trademark.
Everything is made in Ely, and today, Wintergreen is one of Ely's largest employers.
So, if you're looking for warmth this winter, shop local. In Ely.