From Sea to Shining Sea

Best Made in America Outdoor Brands


August 23, 2018 Buying Guides By Photo by Topo Design

There’s a special pride we take in learning about craftsmen who have found a way to continue producing and making gear in America. As more and more companies move out to keep prices down, there are a few that have continued to produce as much as they can here in the US. The outdoor space is no different. Whether it’s a line of sneakers or a specific type of tent that is put together from start to finish, there are brands spread across the country making high-quality gear stateside — from as far west as Seattle to as far east as Biddeford, Maine.

We pulled together a list of outdoor brands that are tried and tested, with much of their gear made right here in America. With any of these brands, you can feel proud about supporting them in your outdoor pursuits.

Outdoor Research

Started by Ron Gregg in 1980, Outdoor Research’s first product was a pair of insulated gaitors designed to help mountaineers climb in some of the coldest temperatures on earth. Gregg didn’t stop there, and continued innovating, designing products that anyone who spends time in the backcountry can appreciate. Since the brand’s inception, the manufacturing facility in Seattle has been stop one. Currently there are 80 employees there, all specializing in tactical gear for the elite forces of the military.

Thule

Thule makes everything from hard goods to soft goods, and while not all its products are made in the USA, all of its cargo boxes sold in the US are made stateside in Chicago. Back in May 2016, Thule opened a new center for all cargo box production. Thanks to this facility, Thule is more efficient and flexible when creating the boxes that help Americans everywhere travel with more gear for their adventures.

GoRuck

Jason McCarthy, founder and CEO of GoRuck, creates gear and apparel that serves troops at home and abroad. Pulling from his military background, McCarthy designs rucksacks, apparel and boots. All the gear is durable, compact and tough enough to survive special forces missions. The brand name pulls meaning from movement — literally go and ruck — where you’re moving with a rucksack or backpack. The bags are hand-made in Bozeman, Montana or Colorado.

Darn Tough

Darn Tough has been making high-quality and durable socks in its Northfield, Vermont mill since 2004. Currently worth over $40 million, Darn Tough’s mill at Cabot Hosiery has 208 machines running 24 hours a day, five days a week, pumping out thousands of socks per day. Merino wool is the magic fabric that keeps these socks running for years.

Filson

Filson makes some of the most handsome jackets, bags and clothing for the outdoor market in Seattle. Its luggage recently caught our attention,, but we’re also big fans of its rain jackets and rugged outerwear. Since 1897, C.C. Filson sold entire outfits to west-bound pioneers during the gold rush. The rugged aesthetic continues to guide the brand as it crafts durable and comfortable gear well into its 121st year.

Topo Designs

While not everything Topo Designs makes is born in the USA, the brand’s classic packs are built in Colorado. Day packs, quick packs and mountain packs are available in Topo’s signature, and distinctive, bright colorways. One of our favorite Topo Designs products is the Accessory Bag with 1000D Cordura fabric and a sturdy YKK zipper.

Keen

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Keen’s EVOFIT One sandal is born and bred in the USA — more specifically, in Portland, Oregon. The sneaker/sandal hybrid is built for use in the water or on the trail, and feels like a second skin. The shoe takes its cues from nature and its technology from the Keen Innovation Lab, making it versatile and comfortable.

Danner

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Since 1932, Danner has crafted boots to help you conquer your next adventure — whether that’s trekking through the snow to work, hiking along tree lined Adirondack trails, or navigating the switchback trails of the Grand Canyon. In use, you can feel the difference in quality of Danner’s boots over other competitors. The Portland Select line of boots includes city to mountain hikers and dress boots, all made in the USA.

FITS

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MMade in Chattanooga, Tennessee, FITS socks are built by third and fourth generation textile manufacturers. The brand’s staff-favorite socks are great for hiking, running, skiing and tactical pursuits.

Western Mountaineering

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Western Mountaineering, a brand that specializes in top notch sleeping bags, has been around for more than 30 years. The brand’s bags are some of the best ones in the market and are made in San Jose, California. No matter what temperature you’re sleeping in, the bags will keep you warm from -40 degrees Fahrenheit to 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

Smartwool

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All of Smartwool’s performance and lifestyle socks are made in the USA. The process starts in Tennessee in the brand’s research and development lab, and then continues as the socks are knit from merino wool in both Tennessee and North Carolina. For nearly 25 years, Smartwool has been making some of our favorite running socks.

Duckworth

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Duckworth’s wool comes from Merino sheep that live in the high elevations of the Montana Rockies. The process begins at Helle ranch in Dillon, Montana where the sheep are shorn, the fibers are graded and then sent to the Carolinas for textile production. The fleece is selected for its specific style used in everything from tees to sweatshirts.

ZPacks

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If you want ultra-lightweight gear that still performs at the highest level while out on the trail, head to Zpacks. Its shelters, backpacks and sleeping bags have been made in America since 2005. Joe Valesko, the founder, thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail and more. If you’re heading out on a long trip, Zpacks gear is a good place to start.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear

Between Kennebunkport and Portland, Maine, you’ll find the town of Biddeford. There, in an old mill building, Hyperlite Mountain Gear designs and manufactures all of its outdoor gear — including shelters, tents, stuff sacks and outerwear. You’ll find lots of Dyneema — a fabric and fiber that’s 15 times stronger than steel, yet still waterproof and durable, especially through Maine’s winters.

Mystery Ranch

In 2000, Mystery Ranch began crafting backpacks for the hunting enthusiasts, wildland fire and mountaineering folks in Bozeman, Montana. Just four years later, Mystery Ranch was approached by the Navy SEALS to create a line of custom packs for them, and thus began a long partnership. To this day, Mystery Ranch creates some of the most durable and intense packs for military and civilians alike.

Nalgene

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BPA-free plastic water bottles are some of the least-expensive, yet high-performing bottles on the market. Nalgene’s 32-ounce size keeps your sleeping bag warm through chilly San Juan nights, and holds ice water for trips into Death Valley National Park. Born in Rochester, New York in the 1940s, these leak-proof and lightweight bottles are still hard to beat, even after all these years.

Inside the Mill Producing the World’s Toughest Sock

In a small town in central Vermont, Darn Tough, its team of loyal employees and a fleet of modified Italian knitting machines work around the clock to produce one of the best socks available.. Read the Story.