Where to Surf, Board, and Hike in Northern Michigan, and the One Clothing Brand That'll Guide You Through It All
Clothing brand M22 is synonymous with adventure, discovery, and community in northern Michigan. Founded by kiteboarding brothers Keegan and Matt, locals to the Neahatawanta peninsula, M22 is more than a clothing label — an extremely popular one to boot. It's a travel brand, representing and revering the wonders of Lake Michigan along with its surfing, boarding, and adventuring locals. It's the ultimate tour guide through the seemingly limitless natural escapes which pepper the M22 route, something that before I discovered the brand, I shamefully didn't even know about myself.
I went to northern Michigan for the first time in June of this year, and while I'd heard of it being an awesome year-round destination for the outdoorsy, summer there blew me away. No matter your escapade of choice, from wind surfing to multi-day backpacking, M22 has a "Microadventure" that'll fit the mood of the moment. These quick trips allow time for you to escape, be it for romantic, work, personal, or exploratory reasons, and be in nature at your preferred pace.
For the fast-moving, M22 can guide you through surfing the fresh water waves of the Great Lakes, from what to bring, how to get there, and tips directly from the locals themselves. Prefer to take your time? M22 will lead you on a multi-day backpacking trip to North Manitou island full of epic, photogenic landscapes. And the tips these guides include are actually helpful. "Bring a watch," M22 advises backpackers. "The west side of [North Manitou] island is technically in the Central time zone and your phone will switch over to the earlier time, potentially causing problems with being on time to the ferry back." Yeah — some pretty valuable stuff there.
I caught up with Nick Madrick, M22's CEO, after getting to witness him in action, wake surfing the crystal clear glacier waters of Walloon Lake. "Microadventures," he reveres of the brand's experiences, "get people outside in the natural environment to reconnect with nature and experience the local community." When asked about his favorite microadventure, his pick pays homage to M22's roots: kiteboarding. Beyond that, Madrick recommends a "road trip [on] M-22 because there are just so many places to explore" along this gem of a route. Sounds like you can't go wrong.
In order to access M22's microadventures, you've got to cop a copy of their coveted book or a set of cards, both of which feature all 30 of their carefully-curated adventure itineraries. These quick-reference card sets are ideal for those on the go and packing light, but they frequently sell out, so be sure to connect with the brand on Instagram or via newsletter to stay informed about restocks. That said, once you get to Traverse City, pay a visit to the newly expanded M22 storefront where these travel-friendly Microadventure cards are available for purchase, and grab any other attire you may need for your trip. However you get your hands on one, these physical guides act as adventure catalogues and make planning travel to northern Michigan pretty much fool-proof.
Speaking of attire, and as someone writing this while wearing M22, these are cozy basics worth investing in. Not only are the clothes sourced from WRAP (Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production) certified companies, but their high level of material and design quality is palpable. You can tell when you use M22 sweatpants, t-shirts, hoodies, cycling bibs, yoga straps, dog leashes, towels, and bags that you'll be using them for years to come. This makes it easy to rep the brand (as it is heavily in northern Michigan) and, by extension, your stellar sense of adventure.
Keep scrolling to shop some of M22's coolest and comfiest travel gear.
To buy: Crop Windbreaker, m22.com, $55
To buy: Storm Wash Jogger, m22.com, $60
To buy: Turkish Towel, m22.com, $42
To buy: Classic Roll Top Dry Bag, m22.com, $35
To buy: Day Trip Duffel, m22.com, $48