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.
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:
Northeast Gear Companies
- 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).
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:
- Delorme (Yarmouth, Maine)
- Ibex Outdoor Clothing (White River Junction, Vt.)
- Jetboil (Manchester, N.H.)
- New England Ropes (Fall River, Mass.)
- Nemo Equipment (Manchester, N.H.)
- Orion Signal and Survival Products (Easton, Md.)
- Dermatone Sunscreen (Windsor, Ct.)
- Darn Tough Socks (Northfield, Vt.)
- STABILicers (Biddeford, Maine)
- Noble Biomaterials (Scranton, Pa.)
- Hyperlite Mountain Gear (Biddeford, Maine)
- New Balance (Boston, Mass.)
- Sterling Rope (Biddeford, Maine)
- Stephenson's Warmlite (Gilford, N.H.)
- Crazeeheads (Port Washington, N.Y.)
- Equinox Gear (Williamsport, Pa.)
- We-Flashy (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
- Evelo Electric Bicycles (New York, N.Y.)
- Vargo Outdoors (Lewisburg, Penn.)
- Hubbard Blueberry Rakes (Jonesport, Maine)
“Equipped” is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Matt Heid.