Howler Brothers x Sanborn Canoe Co.

Posted on July 17, 2015

Here at Howler Bros., we seem to have a certain magnetism towards companies with whom we share ideals– companies that were spawned out of the founders’ hobbies that focus intense energy on design and quality.   The lads at Sanborn Canoe Co. are a great example of a company we’re drawn to for this reason.   Zak Fellman and Todd Randall spend their days hand shaping woods like Cedar, Aspen and Walnut into paddles that are equal parts function and functional art.  We teamed up with them recently to produce the sweet Howler x Sanborn stand up paddle.  It’s one of our favorite collabs and something we struggle to keep in stock.  We caught up with Zak and Todd recently to hear a little about their story and craft. 

Gentlemen, any sign of Spring yet up there in Winona, Minnesota?  

Spring has come. Although it wasn’t that long ago. We’re well into Mosquito season already!

When the Spring does roll around, what’s the first body of water your canoe is hitting?   

The ice on the river goes out first, so as soon as that washes out we’re out for the afternoon. As for real canoe tripping, we always have a fishing opener Boundary Waters Canoe Area trip in early May. This year we chased Lake Trout through Tuscorora Lake and Gillis Lake. They were hitting pretty steady. It didn’t even snow on the trip this year….well only a bit. 

When you were in Kindergarten, did you tell your teacher that you wanted to make handmade, artisanal paddles for a living or did you have more conventional aspirations?

My dreams as a kid were always changing, but they were not the conventional “I want to be an astronaut or a fireman or a policeman…” My aspirations always landed in the creative/dreamer side of the world. For a time I wanted to be an author and then a painter and then an illustrator and then a graphic designer. So filling the role of marketing and paddle painter/craftsman at Sanborn I kind of fulfilled a little bit of all those things. But, no not in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would end up making paddles. Even when we built our canoe in the summer of ‘09 the possibility of turning it into a business wasn’t a thought. 

Sanborn came to life back in 2009.  The stand up paddle phenomenon has come on strong in the intervening 6 years.  Did you see that coming and has it impacted your business and designs?  

Stand Up Paddling has definitely come on strong. It wasn’t really on our radar when we started Sanborn. Being the fresh, new thing it has drawn many new folks to the paddlesports industry that may not have been a part of it before. So even though we are a canoe focused company we’ve been affected and influenced by the movement to stand up paddling. 

Who spins the records there at Sanborn HQ and what’s been in the heavy rotation lately? 

There tends to be a lot of ESPN radio and talk during the day. I know when I put on my headphones to fire up the power tools I’ve been rocking the new Mumford record a bunch. 


Who would win between you in the following contests:

 Arm wrestling?  

Todd. He’s stronger.

Pro wrestling trivia?

I think we’d both lose on this front.

Beer drinking? 

Todd’s the brewer in the shop. 


Ummmm…..I had to look that one up. I think I could take that one though!

Check out the site to see more amazing paddles, learn how to properly care for them, scout the field logs or join the adventure here. We are so stoked on how the Howler x Sanborn stand up paddle collab came out, thanks again Sanborn Canoe Co.!