There are two kinds of stores that seem to manage to always take my money. Military Surplus stores and Outdoor Outfitters. Like a bug to a lamp, I find them irresistible. I will often go out of my way to visit one, no matter where they are located. The sad part is, I have never been able to make it away from one of these stores without spending at least $100.00.
On Sunday, June 6th, 2010 I was returning home to Niagara-on-the-Lake, from Toronto Ontario. I passed a large grey store with bright yellow letters just off of Trafalgar Road on the Queen Elizabeth Highway. Although I had passed the store many times before, today I was drawn in, and stopped to visit.
The store was a little tricky to find as it lay off a side road which faced the Queen Elizabeth Highway. Out front were a myriad of tents, kayaks, Muskoka Chairs, and other outdoor equipment. Various signs were posted in the window promoting high-end outdoor equipment such as Mountain Hard Wear, Brunton, and Keen outdoor footwear. It looked exciting.
The front door had posters and notes about outdoor hikes, clubs, and other social activities which were to take place in the outdoors. It made the store look like it cared about the community and supported it any way it could.
Entering through the front doors, you come face to face with the employees and check-out counter. The friendly staff immediately greeted me. They asked me if I was looking for anything in particular, and gave a glance at my bare feet.
I smiled and said I was just browsing, and proceeded to make my way through the shop. The store was packed. At first glance it looked hap-hazard. Closer inspection reveals that the store was full of just about everything you need for the outdoors. A box of bandannas which ranged in colour from blazed orange to Jolly Rodger (Yarr!) sat beside a box of spare parts for backpacks containing clips, pull strings, and just about everything else that would break on a pack.
Heading deeper into the equipment jungle there were all types of lamps from the highest quality manufacturers like Sure-Fire and Petzl. There was a large water bottle wall which stocked every size, make, and shape of water bottle imaginable. The friendly staff said that all their selections were BPA free. Beside that a good sized section of equipment for the rock climbing enthusiast. Harnesses, uncomfortable looking shoes, carbiners, and chalk bags galore.
There was a large quantity of high end sleeping bags, sleep mats, tents, poles, and every other piece of equipment you could ever want. Not all stores carry the higher end manufacturers like Mountain Hard Wear and Ex-Officio. Hikers Haven does.
An unusual feature the store offered was an “international travel” section going under the guise of “Europe Bound”. Here I was excited to find power inverters, theft proof purses for women made of kevlar, and a range of other products designed for travellers. There were even special attachments for your backpack to attach it to a pole outside and visit a store without being a “bull in a China shop” when backpacking through urban areas.
For pet lovers, Hikers Haven carries a large selection of dog gear. Backpacks, Collapsible bowls, and even canine life jackets.
I entered the outdoor shoe section to be sized up by one of the polite and knowledgeable employees who suggested I try on a pair of their newest “barefoot shoes” known as Vibram five fingers. Hikers Haven carried a large amount of outdoor shoes from popular brand names like Asolo, Keen, Teva, and Vibram.
A large section of the shop is dedicated to outdoor clothing. Huge racks containing clothing from a wide variety of manufacturers such as Mountain Hard Wear, Misty Mountain (official outfitter of Scouts Canada) and Ex-Officio. There were few things you couldn’t purchase here.
There was an archway which led to a newer section of the building which housed every kind of canoe, kayak, and human-powered watercraft you could need. The staff in this section were also very helpful and knowledgeable.
I purchased the Vibram fivefingers (which I will most likely rarely wear) and a few other small items including a blaze orange bandanna for my Husky Luka and left the store.
The friendly, knowledgeable and helpful staff made shopping at Hikers Haven a pleasure. If you are in the area, I would recommend stopping by.
After my visit, I sent a thank-you note to Lisa R, the store manager letting her know how much I enjoyed the experience. She kindly responded and advised me she was happy to accommodate my needs and I was welcome to visit her store anytime.
166 South Service Rd E