Last week was all about finding cheap outdoor gear. Well if you are less worried about price and more worried about where that gear comes from, this is the spot for you!
During the latest US election, there was a LOT (oh so much) talk about American manufacturing, moving jobs overseas, and all that politicalness. But it got me wondering. I probably couldn’t even tell you 3 outdoor brands that I knew for sure were made in America. Brands shift their manufacturing all the time so I couldn’t even trust that iconic American brands are still made here.
In answer to that question for you and me, I have delved into the complicated and sometimes confusing world of outdoor gear manufacturing to bring you this list of American made outdoor gear.
What this list is NOT
There is a wide range of manufacturing options and I found it easiest to assign a score to different brands based on where their products are assembled, who owns them, and if their parts are domestically made. This is the score system I used. It is not perfect. I do not have all the information about these companies so I had to make some assumptions from what they disclose.
|5||Totally||Parts made and assembled in the USA, domestically owned|
|4||Mostly||Some foreign parts, most made and assembled in USA|
|3||Some||Mostly foreign parts, assembled in the USA OR 50/50 foreign and USA made|
|2||Kinda||Mostly foreign parts and assembly, some made in the USA, may be foreign owned|
|1||Barely||Foreign parts and assembly, domestically owned|
|0||None||Foreign owned and made|
The full list currently includes 30 brands. This is not a complete list – I would spend months compiling a complete list! But I plan to keep adding to it so if you have a favorite brand you would like included, give me a shout on social media or email and I will get it on there.
You’ll have to see our spreadsheet here to get the full list but here are few popular brands and some not so popular brand that are still worth considering.
|Retailer||Main products||Foreign Owned & Headquartered||US Headquarters||Factory in US||Products made & assembled in US||Foreign materials, assembled in US||Score||Notes|
|Black Diamond||Climbing, skiing equipment||Salt Lake City, Utah||1||Climbing hardware||Not specified||3||Moved some production back recently|
|Black Strap||Face masks, balaclava||Bend, Oregon||1||All||No||5||Locally milled fabric|
|Brunton||Compass, Optics||Fenix Outdoors in Switzerland||Riverton, Wyoming||1||Compasses||2.5||Compass production moved back from China 2012|
|CamelBak||Water bottles, hydration||Petaluma, California||Not specified||Not specified||Not specified||1|
|Coghlan||Outdoor accessories||Winnipeg, Canada||Not specified||A few, check package||Not specified||2||Could not find a factory location or list of products but some are labeled “Made in the USA”|
|Danner||Boots||Portland, Oregon||1||50%||No||3.5||Vows to bring more back to US|
|Duluth||Clothes||Belleville, Wisconsin||Yes||Variety of socks, pants, shirts, other||Mostly socks, accessories, some others||2.5|
|Eagle Claw||Fishing Hooks||Denver, Colorado||1||All||No||5|
|Farm to Feet||Wool socks||Mt. Airy, North Carolina||1||All||No||5||Owned by Nester Hosiery|
|Keen||Shoes||Portland, Oregon||1||No||20 styles||3||Vows to bring more back to US|
|Kelty||Frame Backpacks, Tents||Boulder, Colorado||Yes||None||rectangular sleeping bags||2||Owned by Exxel Outdoors, Colorado|
|Maglite||Flashlight||Mag Instrument, Canada||Southern California||1||All||None||4|
|Oakley||Sunglasses||Luxottica in Italy||Foothill Ranch, California||1||Some||Some||2|
|Panther Martin||Fishing lures||Port Jefferson, New York||0||No||No||0||Trademark in USA by Harrison-Hoge Industries|
|Patagonia||Outerwear||Ventura, California||8||Some basic styles||Not specified||2.5|
|Redfeather||Snowshoes||La Crosse, Wisconsin||1||All||No||5||Owned by ORC Industries, a non-profit providing jobs for people with disabilities|
|Remington||Guns & bullets||Madison, North Carolina||6||All||No||5|
|Slumberjack||Sleeping bags||Boulder, Colorado||1||None||rectangular sleeping bags||2||Owned by Exxel Outdoors, Colorado|
|Suunto||Compass, watches||Vantaa, Finland||0||None||None||0|
|The North Face||Clothes||Alameda, California||0||None||None||1||Owned by VF Corporation, California|
|Winchester||Guns & bullets||United States||1||Ammunition||Not specified||2||Owned by Olin Corporation and ammunition manufactured by them. Licensed to Browning.|
A few extra things I have learned
There are a few things I learned as I searched for information about each of these outdoor brands. It doesn’t really fit into the topic exactly but we’re talking about it anyway.
Looking for information about these brands, I came across alot of talk about “parent companies”. Many brands started out independently and then got snapped up by bigger fish, er… companies. So all these brands are consolidated into some super outdoor gear giant.
For example, Tubbs snowshoes is owned by K2 Sports.
Jarden Corp. owns K2 Sports and Newell Brand owns Jarden Corp.
Tubbs -> K2 Sports -> Jarden Corp. -> Newell Brand
Newell Brand is a giant that owns all of these very familiar brands: Marmot, Coleman, Rawlings, Crock-pot, First Alert, Yankee Candle, Rubbermaid, Papermate, Elmer’s (ya know, the glue), Sharpie, etc. Do you see what I mean here. Here is this relatively small outdoor company that is really owned by a giant that owns just about everything else. Who knew?
Not to mention Oakleys which are mostly made in America but is owned by Luxottica from Italy. Luxottica owns almost every eyeglasses brand and every store that sells eyeglasses such as Pearl Vision and Lens Crafters.
This just really makes me extra supportive of small brand outdoor gear. Thanks all you small brand pioneers!
Some brands are just awesome
Patagonia has much of their production line overseas but they pride themselves on sustainability and social responsibility. You can track their supply chain of materials and repair and recycle their clothes. What other companies do you know that suggest you repair their product instead of buy a new one? If so, we’d love to hear about it.
Redfeather is another knock your socks off brand. If you are looking to stick it to corporate America, you should take a look. Redfeather is part of ORC Industries which is a non-profit company whose mission is to create jobs for people with disabilities. 75%+ of their workers have a physical or mental disability. I just think that is awesome to build in America and employ people in need! So if you need some snowshoes, this is a great cause to support.
Be the informed consumer
Whether you are an all out supporter of Made in the USA or you just want something durable, please be the informed consumer. That is my whole goal in putting this list together. You will see more in the future on other “behind the scenes” so it doesn’t end here.
What do you think of American made outdoor gear? Do you find it better quality or not worth the money? What is your biggest factor in buying gear?