Fort Wayne is perfectly situated in the heart of the United States, with plenty of adventures to be had both near and far. Allen County, and the surrounding counties that make up the northeast Indiana region, boasts hiking and biking trails with serene views, and a wide variety of lakes and rivers to explore. Beyond this Hoosier slice of the Midwest, both scenic and challenging excursions can be had in Ohio caves, on Michigan islands and Kentucky mountains. Whether exploring close to home or farther afield, Fort Wayne offers independently owned stores that can kit explorers out with the top-rated gear, clothing and accessories, as well as expert advice. Prepare for your next adventure at these beloved and trusted local shops.
Established in 1991, Earth Adventures Unlimited specializes in outdoor gear for camping and backpacking, climbing and caving, as well as canoeing. The shop is staffed by outdoor enthusiasts who draw on their own experiences and knowledge to guide customers, from beginner to expert, toward the right equipment for the adventures ahead. Earth Adventures stocks clothing, footwear and outerwear from well-known brands like Marmot, The North Face, Keen, Sorel and Redfeather. For travel gear and campsite essentials like backpacks, tents, hammocks and cooking supplies, it stocks top-rated selections from Mountain Hardware, Kelty, Sierra Designs and Sea to Summit, as well as other accessories like climbing ropes, navigation supplies, water filtration necessities, and dehydrated meals for camping. Earth Adventures offers kayak and canoe rentals, access to their Boulder Down Under basement bouldering gym for $1 a day and offers adventure planning advice on their website and in-store. Need some destination inspiration? Check out Earth Adventure’s Trip Gallery on their website to see images from expeditions taken by their staff and customers. 1804 W. Main Street, 260.424.1420, earthadventures.com
Located in the heart of the Wells Street corridor, G.I. Joe’s Army Surplus has been Fort Wayne’s army surplus destination for decades. With a vast inventory of military uniforms and accessories, tactical gear and footwear, clothing and novelty items, G.I. Joe’s offers a variety of goods to augment outdoor adventures and excursions. Its diverse offerings include sweatsuits, base layers, BDU’s (battle dress uniforms, aka camouflage, which come in a variety of colors and prints), tactical khakis and button downs. G.I. Joe’s selection of functional clothing is robust. Hats and beanies, and a wide range of durable backpacks, totes and pouches, round out the accessories category. The store stocks specialty survival gear such as long-lasting candles and watertight match boxes, lightweight blankets, water purification powder packets, navigation and campsite tools, shelters and hammocks, canteens and survival guidebooks. 1638 Wells Street, 260.426.7859, gijoesfw.com
Situated in Waynedale, locally owned Hook & Arrow is an outdoor sporting goods store, specializing in fishing and archery, as well as hunting and fishing licenses. The “hook” department offers an extensive array of supplies for all manner of fishing adventures, from the tiniest, hand-tied flies to tech gear like sonar devices that connect to smartphones. In addition to rods and reels and other tackle supplies, they regularly stock a variety of live bait. Hook & Arrow strives to carry locally made goods from a number of brands like Bricker Bugs, a no-bait ice fly, and hand-painted baits by BK Lures and All American Baits. The “arrow” department boasts a robust variety of archery equipment and supplies and a service center, as well as a 20-yard indoor archery range available for $5 an hour. It plays host to regular archery leagues. The experts at Hook & Arrow can assist with equipping fishing and archery enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels and offer quality advice to get the most out of their gear and supplies. While at Hook & Arrow, pick up free copies of the Indiana Fishing Regulations Guide and Indiana Recreation for up-to-date information and guidance from the state. 7536 Winchester Road, 260.739.6661, hookandarrow.net
One of the area’s most popular spots for outdoor adventure action is Fort Wayne Outfitters, with both supplies and experts on hand to help guide and advise. They were founded with the intention of helping to promote active lifestyles, to boost riverfront access and engagement and to encourage environmental awareness. FWO has a big selection of equipment and accoutrement for biking as well as water sports like kayaking, canoeing and stand-up paddling and is conveniently located near trails and the city’s rivers. They even have their own boat launch steps away on the banks of the St. Mary’s. In addition to supplies, tools and equipment, the shop books various excursions and offers rentals of water sport equipment and bike maintenance and repairs. FWO also takes care to stock seasonal selections of clothing and personal accessories for those who want ease and comfort in their daily lives and the ability to hop into an adventure at a moment’s notice. For those who want to hop on the Gorp-core fashion trend (yes, it’s a thing), look for Cotopaxi waist packs, Patagonia vests and socks in funky patterns and hues to mix into daily wardrobes for the currently popular hiking aesthetic. Shoppers will also find branded FWO branded goods like T-shirts, tanks, mugs and water bottles, as well as Ambre Blends natural perfumes and lotions, tech gear by Garmin and light up pet collars. Looking for a different way to enjoy the outdoors and learn a new skill? FWO stocks equipment for disc golf, which can be played at a handful of local disc golf courses located within existing Fort Wayne parks. 1004 Cass Street, 260.420.3962, fwoutfitters.com