Outdoor Gear Made in the USA

October 25, 2012

The vast majority of outdoor equipment is made overseas, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find options that are made right here in America—you just need to know where to look.

Online Retailers
A few online outdoor retailers, notably REI, have begun consistently identifying which products are made in the United States. REI currently lists nearly 4,000 products on their website identified as being made in the USA (though if you eliminate books, maps, food, luggage, and “gift” knick-knacks and greeting cards, the number is closer to 2,000).

Campmor offers a bit more than 300 products, most of them what you would consider “gear” (though there is a fair bit of apparel). L.L. Bean returns more than 700 results when you search for “made in the USA,” though this round-up is limited on the gear front (made in the USA doormat, anyone?). Other retailers are a bit behind the USA curve: EMS and Cabelas both essentially offer no search functionality to quickly identify made in the USA products.

Notable Gear Companies
Here are three companies whose products I use, enjoy, recommend—and are almost exclusively made in the USA:

  • Cascade Designs, which includes the brands MSR, Therm-a-Rest, Seal Line, Platypus, and PackTowl, manufactures a significant portion of its equipment—including stoves, sleeping pads, and snowshoes—at its facilities in Seattle.
  • Leatherman manufactures all of its knives and multi-tools onsite at its Oregon factory. 
  • Smartwool knits 90 percent of its socks in America (though the wool mostly comes from other countries, notably New Zealand, and the company’s apparel is largely made overseas).

Northeast Gear Companies
Even better, you can support companies that don’t just make their equipment in the USA—they make it right here in the Northeast. Here are the 20 Northeast-based gear companies I’ve profiled to date:

 Happy shopping!

“Equipped” is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Matt Heid.

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Matt Heid

Equipped blogger Matt Heid is AMC's gear guru: He loves gear and he loves using it in the field. While researching several guidebooks, including AMC's Best Backpacking in New England, he has hiked thousands of miles across New England, California, and Alaska, among other wilderness destinations. He also cycles, climbs, and surfs.