Anyone who thinks that U.S. manufacturing is long gone need look no further than Seattle, WA's industrial Georgetown district, where Cascade Designs maintains a nebulous collection of factory buildings that churn out a steady stream of high-quality, high-performance camping gear.
These products made of plastic, rubber, steel and aluminum could easily be farmed out to overseas production facilities.
But they’re not.
While many outdoor brands have—let’s be honest—understandably bowed to economic pressures and moved production overseas, the ongoing manufacturing of MSR stoves, Platypus water filters and bladders and Therm-a-Rest sleeping pads proves that the Made-in-USA label is more than just a marketing ploy; it’s an everyday economic reality that plenty of workers take pride in being a part of.
One state south in Portland, OR, the same ethic is embodied in the factories that produce Danner hiking boots and, across town, Leatherman knives and multi-tools. In Austin, TX, carbon fiber from California is finished into uber-light trekking poles, one at a time, at the Gossamer Gear facility. And from Smartwool sock sewing in South Carolina to camping pack production in upstate New York, a strong, vibrant vein of U.S. manufacturing persists across the outdoor industry.
Whether we’re considering big international businesses like the nearly 500-person workforce at Leatherman or the cottage-industry pace of ultralight manufacturer Jacks R’ Us in Virginia, stateside production of hiking and camping gear remains the exception, not the norm. But these manufacturers are producing undeniably exceptional products. Click through to the slideshow to see how 15 such companies are making ends meet.