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Domestic Bliss: How to Shop US-Made This Holiday Season, and Beyond

Here at App Gear Co, “made in the USA” is part of our DNA. After witnessing firsthand the massive loss of jobs during the wave of offshoring that happened between the mid-90s and early 2000s, we founded the brand with the mission to create an all-natural performance fabric unlike anything else out there while bringing manufacturing back to the U.S. Today, our fabric is made in our own facility and our gear is assembled in manufacturing facilities across the Southeast—which helps provide jobs and lessens our impact on the environment.

Because we’re so passionate about it, we want to share the love with other brands that are committed to manufacturing domestically, so we asked a few of our favorite outdoor adventurers to send their top picks for gear made right here in the U.S. of A. If you’re looking to shop US-made this holiday season and beyond, here are some good places to start:

 

Luke Pearsall, Photographer/Adventurer, @lukepearsallphoto

As the holiday season begins and we search for thoughtful gifts for the people we love, one thing I am telling myself this year is that I need to support small businesses, and particularly the ones that make high quality Made in the USA products. As an outdoor industry creative professional, I have the great opportunity not only to test out many of these products, but I also get the unique opportunity to meet the people behind the products. This season I am sharing with my audience two brands that I have come to know and love in just that way.  

LiteAF is an ultralight backpack maker based out of my home state of NJ. They hand make all of their backpacking packs and accessories in their shop in Southampton Township, just 30 minutes from where I grew up. Founder Chris Millard is dedicated to making sure each pack that comes out of his shop is held to the highest standards possible, and is well known and respected in the industry for being a perfectionist when it comes to customizing packs to fit the needs of his customers. Not only is LiteAF churning out some of the hottest new packs on the trail, but they also give a substantial amount of their profits to protecting public lands. I personally used the Curve 46 on my Colorado Trail thru-hike this summer, and it performed even better than I could have possibly expected. On a personal note, I would also like to add that Chris Millard is one of the most stand-up business owners in the outdoor industry and is always supporting the efforts of both outdoor creatives and athletes whenever he can. Buying from LiteAF this holiday season is a win for our entire industry.  

Enlightened Equipment is the second Made in the USA brand that I have come to really love. I used several pieces of their gear on the Colorado Trail as well. Enlightened Equipment makes all of their products in Winona, Minnesota and creates some of the most popular quilts and apparel on the market for ultralight backpacking. You would be hard pressed to pass 10 long distance hikers on any trail and not find a piece of their gear in several of their packs. Tim Marshall founded the company in 2007 sewing the original quilts in his basement. Tim loves making gear and it shows in his work. He takes a great deal of pride in knowing that his products are some of the best on the market and that the people who work for him put that same pride into their work. Enlightened Equipment is another brand that continues to support the endeavors of outdoors enthusiasts and creatives. Their ambassador program has become one of the most coveted programs among long trail hikers and they are continually churning out great marketing content because of it as well.

 

Julia Sheehan, Thru-Hiker, @juliasheehan

One of my favorite brands that I love is From The Ground Up socks—they are based in the PNW, use recyclable paper for their packaging, and donate a percentage of their sales to outdoor organizations!

I also love Enlightened Equipment. Starting as a small garage brand, they have really become such a great company that makes quality lightweight gear. Their team is super friendly and really connects with the community. 

And of course, App Gear Co! As an animal and alpaca lover, I love your gear. It’s warm, sustainable, and the quality is unmatched! I will be taking my Crew as my mid-layer on all my upcoming adventures!

 

Heather “Anish” Anderson, Ultra Runner/Thru-Hiking Triple Triple Crowner/Author, @anishhikes

I choose a lot of my gear from Made in the USA companies. A few of my faves include Appalachian Gear Company for their incredible All-Paca performance wear, Good To-Go Meals for their delicious whole-food nutrition backcountry meals, Point6 Socks for their technical wool socks with lifetime guarantees, and Trail Butter for their nutritious, calorie dense nut butter blends in backcountry friendly packets.

 

Ben Vaughan, Thru-Hiking Triple Crowner, @hiking_ginger_b

For clothing, I have relied on Appalachian Gear Company’s products for the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and Continental Divide Trail. I use their All-Paca T-shirt for my base layer and the Hoodie for my second layer when the temps drop. I also use their Beanie and Gaiter on colder days and nights on-trail. Their products are exclusively produced in the United States, and they are the most eco-friendly gear I use.

 

Benny Braden, Thru-Hiker/Leave No Trace Advocate, @plugitinhikes

I get asked a lot “what are your favorite pieces of gear?” And the answer is always the same... the gear that is dependable and functions the way I need it to. But if we want to be specific then one look at my pack speaks volumes. The Zpacks Nero backpack has been a work horse for me with over 2500 miles and I’ve carried in over 6 different countries. I even did my FKT (Fastest Known Time) of the Smokies 900-Miler with it in 2017, as well as 4 thru-hikes in recent years. This 38-liter pack is great for traveling and thru-hiking, and now Zpacks offers this pack in a new material called ROBIC, along with a smaller 30-liter version called the Sub-Nero. I can easily see this new smaller pack become my new favorite backpack. 

 

Hallie Zolynski, Explorer/Instructor, @the_nomadic_ice_axe

Appalachian Gear Company’s All-Paca Hoodie, Crew, T-shirt, Beanie, and Gaiters have been my go-to outdoor clothing for the past 2 years. They wick moisture while keeping me cool in summer and warm all winter long while not being bulky! 

 

Karina Ray, Mountain Runner, @star3rising

Along with my beloved Appalachian Gear Company, there are several American companies who are reliably producing high-quality performance outdoor apparel that I rely on for all of my mountain objectives—be it running, climbing, or a combination of both. All of these companies use fewer transportation resources, produce high quality products, and contribute to local communities.

Swiftwick USA out of Nashville makes the socks I live, work, and train in on roads and mountains. I became enamored with Swiftwick when I worked at a high-level run specialty store. Swiftwick’s performance socks are sustainably produced, have no toe seams, are made with sport specificity, and come with a Best Sock Guarantee. The Pursuit 4 sock is my “life uniform” sock and comes in many heights and is made of a dreamy merino-olefin blend that thermoregulates all four seasons.

Closer to my PNW mountains in Salem Oregon, NW Alpine is celebrating 10 years of responsible manufacturing in the USA! Their commitment to the revitalization of American manufacturing is as important to them as the quality of their materials and products. They create pieces that are “simple so they simply work” for climbers of all disciplines Type Two-ing it in the mountains. When I was with App Gear Co working at Pacific Crest Trail Days, I met the NW Alpine team and heard their story. To reward myself for progressing as a climber, I bought their women’s Alpine Tech Legging. Most tech leggings have some sort of discomfort for me, whether it be the waistband or the rise. The Alpine Tech Legging fits with articulation, has just the right stretch, and I can’t say enough about the reinforced knees and seat. Clearly NW Alpine builds for athletes and knows the tech materials we need for moving on the surfaces we love.

Let’s face it, there’s a plethora of outdoor apparel brands that are decent, but the world class companies and products I’ve chosen again and again in my athletic life journey are made right here in the United States.

 

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