Celebrate Take a Hike Day with Gear Made in America
Today is Take a Hike Day. In honor of all those avid outdoor adventurers and the novices getting out on the trails for the first time, we celebrate some American-made companies that might help you on your next hike.
Since 1994, SmartWool has been making socks in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. In 2005, American outdoor brand Timberland bought SmartWool. However, SmartWool's ethos towards the fair treatment of animals in its supply chain didn't change. Using Merino wool from New Zealand and Uruguay, SmartWool holds agreements with their partners to use only non-mulesed wool. Mulesing involves slicing some skin off sheep in an attempt to reduce a condition called flystrike. Socks and knit items are made in the U.S.; apparel and accessories are also made in other countries.
Denver Tent has not changed much since its founding in 1890, and new owners Kevin and Laurie Womer don't plan to change much, either, other than updating some engineering and manufacturing processes. Not all of Denver Tent's canvas tents and other sportsmen's and custom fabric products are made in the United States. Product Manager Chris Gilmore told This Built America that it's a challenge to find raw materials in the United States, but "When I have five minutes of spare time, I'm on Google (GOOG) trying to find American-made canvas."
"The most efficient sleeping bag factory in the world" is at Exxel Outdoors headquarters in Haleyville, Alabama, which also serves as its eastern United States distribution center. Corporate and design offices and western U.S. distribution are in Los Angeles.
Since its 1997 founding, Exxel has produced more than 1.5 million sleeping bags per year, with the capacity to push that number to 4 million. You can find Exxel sleeping bags at major retailers like Walmart (WMT), Kmart (SHLD) and Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS). Exxel strives for environmentally friendly practices, including using largely recycled materials and waste control.
Lifelong outdoor enthusiasts Mark Hansen and Jedd Rose started Topo Designs in Rose's Fort Collins, Colorado, basement in 2008. The firm is now in Denver and opened its first store in 2013. Topo's production of apparel, accessories, bags and packs was kept domestic to oversee quality control. A video extols their connection to the community: "We are lucky enough to work with our friends and neighbors to make our products and every time we use them we carry a little piece of that community around with us." Hansen and Rose set out to create an outdoor brand that functions in the coffee shop just as well as the outdoors. "We strive to make products that are simple, functional, and beautiful -– think canoe vs. motor boat. We're the canoe."
Red Wing Shoes
Red Wing Shoes, based in Red Wing, Minnesota, has been in operation since 1905 and supplied shoes to American soldiers in both world wars. While known more for work boots, many Red Wing brands can double for the outdoors. Its Heritage collection is entirely American-made, with leather coming from a nearby producer. A Made in USA search filter on its site displays more than 80 products.