The readers of this blog are travelers (eventually again…) and adventurers who enjoy the outdoors. So I know you probably buy a healthy amount of travel apparel, outdoor clothing, and luggage. As we go from full unemployment one month to record unemployment the next though, how can you help your fellow countrymen and women who are suddenly suffering?
One small way you can do that is to devote a little of that online shopping time to products made by domestic workers, clothing and gear made in the USA or made in Canada. (Take your pick depending on what side of the border you are on.)
Chances are if you go through your closet and start looking at the “Made in ___” part of the tags, you’ll see a lot of Asia, a little Central America, perhaps Mexico will make an appearance or two. You won’t likely find too many things made in your own country. There are valid reasons for this of course, mostly around price. It’s just far more costly to make things when paying people $20 an hour than when you only have to pay them $1 an hour. Easy math, even with the shipping costs.
Sometimes though, you’re still paying a hefty amount for that jacket or pair of shoes, which is why I always recommend watching for great sales and buying at the right time of year. One easy way to do that is to get on my Insider Gear Deals newsletter, which only goes out when the pickings are plentiful.
Understand though that you might have to pay a bit of a premium when going with domestic sources. Or you may have to buy direct from the company instead of assuming you can find everything on Amazon. On the plus side, you’re probably getting better quality, often backed by a better warranty. After all, the companies are in the same building where the goods are being manufactured, not half the planet away.
So here are some outdoor apparel and travel gear brands made in the USA: head, shoulders, knees and toes–plus some luggage and things to pack. Scroll down further for the ones made in Canada.
At the time of writing these companies were all still shipping, but these are unprecedented times, so they may soon move to “existing inventory only” or stop altogether to maintain social distancing. Put your orders in now!
Made in the USA Clothing and Gear
On Your Head
Unique company baabaazuzu of Michigan wins the prize for doing double good. Their hats and scarves are made from upcycled sweaters that would have otherwise been thrown away. On a hipper vibe check out Battenwear hats, which are made in NYC and California. Overland has a great name for travelers and the New Mexico-based company has a variety of vented hats that are made for adventure.
We were going to highlight hat maker Stormy Kromer of Michigan, but they’re doing their patriotic duty and switching to making medical masks. Please support them when this crisis is over!
Copper River Fleece of Alaska makes hoodies, vests and jackets. Battenwear, mentioned in the hat section, makes nice shirts and jackets that work for travel or the urban lifestyle. Pendleton Woolen Mills of Oregon makes most of its products in domestic factories.
Duckworth of Montana makes “sheep to shelf” merino wool shirts, jackets, and base layers 100% in the USA.
Voormi of Colorado makes high-quality coats, jackets, hoodies, and shirts–mainly from wool–that I wish I had a few of in my closet.
Lower Body in the Lower 48
The USA is the birthplace of blue jeans, so it makes sense that a lot of the quality ones are still made here. Search Imogene & Willie, Raleigh Denim, and Bullet Blues for starters. For rugged pants (and outerwear) that are more likely to be brown or green, check the Filson brand.
Hanky Panky produces American-made underwear, lingerie, and sleepwear for women.
For long underwear base layers, go straight to Polarmax.
On Your Feet
A surprising number of sock brands are actually made in the USA if you go for quality when you buy hiking socks or running socks—which you should. Your socks can be as important as your shoes in cushioning your feet and avoiding blisters.
Darn Tough Vermont, Fox River, FITS Socks, and Farm to Feet are a few of the brands I’ve worn and liked that are American made. That last one really assures you on their home page which says, “100% U.S. materials, 100% U.S. manufacturing, 100% U.S. workers.” Golden Touch Naturals makes nice ones from the wool of alpacas on their farm!
A lot of the American-made shoes are either work shoes (Red Wing), dress shoes (Johansen), or cowboy boots, but you can find some walking or hiking shoes here and there that are made stateside. The sure bet is SOM Footwear, which produces everything in Colorado. Munro Shoes makes some nice options for women that would work for walking or travel.
LL Bean has plenty of socks and some waterproof shoes on its page dedicated to American-made products. It’s also worth noting that a lot of New Balance footwear is made in U.S. factories, so check the description for what you like on their website. Others that make at least a few styles in domestic factories include Keen, Danner, and Wolverine.
Much of the New Balance footwear is produced stateside, but you have to check for the style you like.
American Made Luggage
Two of the best bag companies to buy from has domestic sewing facilities and warranties that show they stand behind their product. See Tom Bihn of Washington State and Red Oxx out of Billings, Montana.
Besides the apparel mentioned earlier, Filson also makes some nice bags and backpacks you can keep using for decades.
Duluth Pack is “the oldest canvas and leather bag and pack manufacturer in the United States of America,” around since 1882.
Made in Canada Clothing and Gear
On Your Head in the Great White North
String Theory makes some great scarves.
Upper Body in Upper North America
Possibly Canada’s best-known brand outside Tim Horton’s, the Roots sweatshirts and tees are seen around the world almost as often as a Canadian flag on a backpack.
Even better known among the adventure travel crowd is Canada Goose, which makes coats worthy of an arctic expedition and quality apparel for us less risk-averse outdoor enthusiasts as well. They’re made in Toronto and Winnipeg.
Abaka (linked below) makes its casual tops in Canada.
Lower Body Clothing
There don’t seem to be many Canadian companies making pants, but the exceptions are technical wear from Canada Goose and more fashionable urban options from Abaka.
If your tastes gravitate to “athleisure” and yoga items for women, check out the goods from Movement Global.
On Your Feet From Canada
As in the USA, many of the domestic footwear options in Canada are either dress shoes, work boots, or cowboy boots. There are some exceptions though.
Some, but not all styles from Baffin and Kamik (73% of theirs) are manufactured in Canada. Martino Footwear employs about 90 Canadians making their snow boots and more casual styles under three different brand names. All the double-duty footwear made by MellowWalk is tagged as “Proudly Canadian.”
The Great Canadian Sox Shop manufactures it’s J.B. Fields brands of heavy-duty socks in Toronto.
Canadian Made Luggage and Gear
Unfortunately, you won’t find many bags that are made in Canada anymore unless you buy some expensive hand-made leather job or a one-off laptop bag from one of the companies covered earlier. The main exception is Rise Gear, founded in 2012 and headquartered in Toronto. Like their U.S. counterparts, they only sell direct in order to keep prices reasonable.
Got a recommendation for quality clothing or gear you’ve tried that didn’t ship across an ocean? Hit us up in the comments!