There are a lot of companies out there that make excellent gear for everyday carry, the outdoors, your home, and more. And thanks to modern manufacturing, the quality of everything is getting better and tighter as we speak. But, that also makes it harder for us to figure out what we want to use and why. One big way you can differentiate one brand from the next, however, is by finding out who owns them.
As you may or may not know, many many brands are the property of larger corporations – from every edge of the gear world. And if you’re fine with holding onto that knowledge and continuing to purchase those products, great – no judgement here. Some folks, however, prefer gear that’s a little more personal, serves a larger purpose, or satisfies their sense of patriotism. Nowhere, perhaps, is that more true than in the world of active duty troops and military veterans. That’s where the following collection of brands comes in. Whether you’re a former serviceman trying to support your fellow soldiers or you’re a citizen patriot looking to express your pride and freedom, these are 15 veteran-owned brands you should definitely know.
Technically speaking, this is not a gear brand. Their services, however, do require special loadouts of gear and the help of those who are experts on the subject – so we’re giving them a pass. Adventures Accessed is a Chicago-based brand that helps city dwellers get out of their daily urban environment and embroils them in a world just a bit more natural and primal. Whether you’re looking to increase your hiking prowess, boost your survival skills, or just challenge your body and make a few friends on the way, this veteran-owned outdoor adventure company is just the ticket for you.
Specialty: Backcountry Hiking & Camping, Survivalism
Subscription boxes do seem like they’re a dime a dozen nowadays. You can find a monthly club for everything from razors to steaks. This one, however, has a couple legs up when it comes to uniqueness and purpose. You see, this subscription service is owned by vets and delivers excellent outdoor gear to your doorstep every month. Even better, if you don’t want to subscribe month to month, they also give you the option to go through and purchase past boxes. So, if you give a scroll through their offerings and see a complement of gear you have to get your hands on, you likely can. But you’d better be quick about it, as they can definitely run out.
Specialty: Monthly Outdoor Gear Subscription Boxes
Black Rifle Coffee
As any former soldier can tell you, coffee is the favorite beverage of the armed forces. Seriously, go to any military outpost and you’ll see people there drinking the stuff like water. So, it makes sense that, after their service, some veterans might open up their own military-themed coffee company. Enter Black Rifle. Also, in case you’re wondering, this is not just a case of labeling someone else’s work. Black Rifle sources their beans from Columbia and Brazil, ships them to the U.S, and then roasts each and every batch themselves. They also don’t just do coffee – they also offer a plethora of other gear from apparel to coffee-making gear and paraphernalia. Better still, they happily donate their coffee to causes close to their hearts – and you can submit a donation request with the brand directly.
Location: Tennessee, Texas, & Utah
When it comes to kitchen gear – or even pocket gear – few things are quite as ubiquitous as the bottle opener. And since they’re a dime a dozen, it takes a lot to make one stand apart from the rest. Thankfully, the folks at Bottle Breacher seem to have figured that out, as they make their gorgeous bottle openers out of authentic decommissioned .50 caliber shells. And, while being a brand run by and employing veterans, things just keep getting better with this brand – you see, they make their bottle openers right here in the USA. They also make a variety of styles from military to law enforcement and everything in between. Plus, they make excellent groomsmen gifts.
Specialty: Bottle Openers
Combat Flip Flops
It should come as no surprise to anyone in the armed forces that a flip flop company was started by veterans. After all, being forced to wear big bulky boots day in and day out will make you never want to wear a proper pair of shoes again. And while Combat Flip Flops makes some excellent high-quality footwear (shoes, too, not just sandals), we’re also very excited about their commitment to charity. You see, for every item they sell, they donate money to further the education of underprivileged girls overseas. The brand also has a wide range of apparel and accessories – all of which reflect their goal of encouraging people to be more peaceful, forward-thinking, and compassionate.
Like Bottle Breacher, Doc Spartan is a brand that first came into the limelight thanks to a spot on Shark Tank – the entrepreneurial investment television show. Their product, however, is vastly different, despite also being veteran owned and run. This brand, you see, makes all-natural ointments geared toward those that take part in high-intensity exercises and activities. But that’s not all, they also offer a wide array of personal hygiene products, like beard oil and deodorant. And they do it all right here in the USA without any chemical additives whatsoever. If you like to work out hard and treat your body like a temple, this is definitely a brand you’ll want to learn more about.
Specialty: Fitness-Focused All-Natural Ointments
Certainly the most impactful brand on this list from an everyday carry perspective, GoRuck makes some of the most hardcore backpacks, bags, and accessories available. Seriously – their flagship product, the GR1 backpack, is hailed as literally bombproof. They’re also at the epicenter of the rucking world, which, in case you’re not in the know, is a kind of extreme fitness activity that entails carrying a lot of weight over difficult terrain and sometimes obstacles – much like a serviceman or woman would do in the field. But if hardcore workouts and superb gear isn’t quite your cup of tea, they also make a wide range of outdoor and fitness-focused apparel that’s certainly up to snuff all the same. As an added bonus, they also make all their stuff in the USA.
Specialty: Gear & Apparel
While we do tend to lean towards darker spirits, like whiskey and rum, we’re far from snobbish when it comes to a well-made alcoholic beverage – especially when it comes to killer cocktails. And that’s exactly what you’ll find out of Heroes Vodka. This award-winning clear spirit is made in Kentucky (of all places) from 100% American grain. What else would you expect from a patriotic bunch of veterans? Better still, every single purchase from the brand goes toward supporting military charities – both active duty and vets. So, the next time you’re trying to choose which vodka to put in your Moscow mule, turn to Heroes. They won’t let you down.
Yes, ITS (short for Imminent Threat Solutions) makes some great ancillary tactical gear – including packs, patches, modular pouches, and even lock-picking kits. But this website is far more than just a retailer. They also have a healthy online community of users and a staff of writers that tackle a wealth of subjects from survival skills, to the differences between field uniforms in the armed forces, to different kinds of night vision, and more. Truly, if there is something you’re wondering about the military and/or tactical gear, ITS has probably covered it already. This is a great community for vets and fans of solid tactical outdoor gear and subjects, alike.
Specialty: Tactical Gear & Journalism
We see a lot of military-inspired gear out there, but most of it is fairly predictably – backpacks, jackets, camping tents; the kinds of things you’d actually see military members wearing and using during active duty. But when something comes along that infuses tactical military style into something unexpected (and does it well), we get very excited. That’s the case with Kota Longboards. This veteran-owned brand makes cruising skateboards done up with military-style decals, ranging from bomber-style pinup girls to squadron graphics and more. And if you’re not fond of having to push yourself around, you can turn any of their offerings into an electric skateboard, too.
Anytime we see a brand that knows better than to take themselves too seriously, we’re all the more encouraged to give them our business. Such is the case with Merica Bourbon. While their tongue-in-cheek brand name is certainly enough to get us interested, it’s the rest of their business that keeps us coming back. This veteran-owned whiskey brand crafts what is perhaps the most distinctly American spirit – bourbon – and they do so expertly, inspired by the likes of George Washington, frontiersmen, and the bootleggers of the Prohibition era. Just do us a favor, if you get your hands on a bottle of this exquisite spirit, don’t mix it with Coke. This whiskey stands all on its own.
If you’re keeping count, yes, this is the second coffee company on our list of veteran-owned brands you should know. As it turns out, military folks really love their coffee. This one, however is a little different as of the beginning of this year. You see, Ranger Coffee used to brew their own beans and ship them out to their loyal following. But, things are changing for them. They’ve suspended their coffee services and appear to be pivoting to a more gear-centric model – offering supplies rather than the beans themselves. It’s still unclear as to what they’ll look like when they reinstate business, but we can imagine they’ll resume with the same passion and dedication to quality they had before the pivot.
Specialty: Coffee Supplies
Red Oxx Mfg.
If you’re not ingrained in the world of everyday carry, there’s a pretty good chance you haven’t heard of Red Oxx. Well, we think that’s a shame because they make some truly exceptional packs, bags, and accessories. In fact, their Air Boss is one of the best carry-on bags we’ve ever had the pleasure to get our hands on. And while we’re clearly fond of the products they create, we also love this brand’s story. You see, Red Oxx is actually a multi-generational veteran-owned brand. The founder, Jim Markel Senior, served both as a Green Beret and as a Special Forces Officer in the Marine Corps. His son, the current CEO, now runs the business from their headquarters in Utah – overlooking the wonder and inspiration that is lake Powell.
Specialty: Packs & Bags
Sword And Plough
A whopping 10% of all net profits from Sword and Plough’s sales goes toward veteran initiatives. For those keeping count, that’s a massive number. And it doesn’t stop there. This veteran-owned brand also contracts out to veteran-owned manufacturing plants to create their handsome military-inspired gear. That also means that everything they sell is American made. And, as if that wasn’t enough, they also focus heavily on veteran employment and are constantly working toward better civil-military understanding. If there’s a more socially-conscious veteran-owned American gear brand out there, we have yet to stumble upon them.
Specialty: Bags & Accessories
As physical training is a big part of being in the military, as well as contemporary American culture, many veterans find themselves in the gym and out on the trails fairly often. But the kinds of intense workouts these folks lean toward are hard on gear that’s not quite up to snuff. That’s where Virtus comes in – this brand makes some of the most hardcore technical gear for both the gym and the outdoors we’ve ever come across. Whether you’re a crossfit competitor, backcountry snowboarder, or backcountry maverick, we bet you can find some truly hardcore apparel from Virtus that will suit your life to a tee – especially if you, like this brand’s show-runners, are a Marine.
Specialty: Performance Outerwear & Apparel
30 Best American-Made Brands
Besides being veteran-owned, you might notice another common thread amongst much of these companies: many of them make their products in the USA. But, vets aren’t the only patriots out there, as evidenced by our list of the 30 best American-made brands.