It would appear that with every new dawn, another outdoor apparel brand is born. And frankly, we’re not entirely in disagreement with this notion. The past decade or so has brought a myriad of versatile and niche boutique outdoor brands into the spotlight – some of which have worked to truly push the envelope in the technological makeup of such gear and apparel.
This week marks the first of three Outdoor Retailer trade shows held in Denver, CO. It’s a place where brands both young and old come together to showcase what’s new on the docket this year, serving as a live preview of the future market releases. It’s also here, and through a bit of research, that we find a handful of smaller boutique outdoor brands that may not resonate with a huge audience, but do produce some killer outdoor gear with the branding to back it up. What follows is a portion of that list, 15 outdoor brands we feel you should know as we press forward into the new year. Some, you’ll find, have been around for half a century. Others, just a few years. All of which, however, stand by their goal of producing high-quality gear for the outdoorsman. And boast the products to back it up.
Alps & Meters
Born on a Swedish ski trip, Alps & Meters reflects a lifestyle unencumbered by subpar outdoor winter apparel. That’s because, in addition to their innovative yet traditional design principles, the brand combines natural materials and classical construction with contemporary tech to create timeless garments suited for both a dawn patrol on the slopes and the hidden ski lodge after hours.
Location: Boston, MA
Know For: Alpine Sportswear
Initiated out of the need for survival clothing systems, Beyond attempts to rethink human exposure to various environments though developing gear that’s built for some of the most challenging climates on earth. It’s all possible through fusing specific technologies with personal field experience and training – combined with an all-American made in the USA commitment.
Location: Seattle, WA
Known For: Outerwear
Inspired by the resilient characteristics of the Himalayan Yak, this veteran mountaineering brand looks to serve as the “mountain sherpa” for contemporary climbers and outdoorsmen. Here, we have proven mountain gear engineered to handle the brutal environmental conditions of the Himalayas. From shell jackets to mid layers, pants and fleece, Black Yak works to continue pushing the envelope for mountaineers as they’ve done since 1973.
Location: Seol, South Korea
Known For: High-Quality Mountaineering Gear
Self-proclaimed as the world’s only source-verified, single-origin merino wool company that’s 100% made in the USA, Duckworth Co. certainly has something to be proud of here. For them, it’s all rugged wool-based clothing built to handle the tough day-to-day of outdoor occupations. Not to mention, playing a part in resurrecting the lost art and craft of American wool.
Location: Bozeman, MT
Known For: Merino Wool Apparel
Working in conjunction with the Skiing lifestyle since 1950, Japanese outdoor brand Goldwin began its storied career in a small knit fabric factory in Toyama. Since then, they’ve grown into a dependable brand that builds high-end apparel for both life in the city and on the slopes – even providing wears of fellow international ski teams over the years.
Location: Toyama, Japan
Known For: Premium Ski Apparel
Good to Go
Life in the outdoors, with all its splendor, isn’t always the tastiest of adventures. Part of this reason is a lack of means in which to cook decent meals. Enter Good To-Go, an adventure food company specializing in hearty dehydrated meals that taste great and are easy to make thanks to their prepackaged containers. They offer both breakfast and dinner items, ranging from full entrees you’d expect to find at the neighborhood corner restaurant to traditional hiking foods with some extra finesse.
Location: Kittery, ME
Known For: Dehydrated Adventure Foods
Inspired by the thrill of traveling, Heimplanet is a relatively new brand that builds and innovates – first and foremost – inflatable tents as well as outdoor-centric gear and accessories. They’re most well-known release, dubbed The Cave, stepped onto the scene back in 2011 as the first inflatable tent. Its sleek futuristic design and ability to stand up to the elements became a staple for all subsequent Heimplanet gear, namely their Monolith luggage series, as time wore on.
Location: Hamburg, Germany
Known For: Inflatable Tents & Outdoor Gear
Hyperlite Mountain Gear
Mountain Gear, above all else, needs to seamlessly function and function well. Meaning, oftentimes there’s no room for all the bells and whistles – the nonessential gimmicks often found on non-mountaineering gear. Hyperlite looks to continue that notion, building stripped-down high-performance mountain gear purposed to meet the requirements of those meant to use it. It’s this philosophy that’s held in high regard across all their verticals, including packs, shelters, and accessories.
Location: Biddleford, ME
Known For: Packs, Shelters & Accessories
Situated in the wintery landscape of Northern Sweden is the small mountain town of Åre. Naturally, it’s here where outdoor activities such as skiing, fishing, and hiking reign supreme. It’s also where Klattermusen has worked to develop durable outdoor gear purposed to stand up to the unforgiving elements of the region since 1984.
Location: Are, Sweden
Known For: Outdoor Gear & Apparel
Sometimes all it takes is a little observation to recognize a problem no one knew existed. In the case of Matador, it was bulky outdoor gear such as packs, duffels, and blankets that seemed to weigh them and their colleagues down. So, through a little know-how and innovation, the fine folk at Matador worked to develop a line of packable adventure gear that wouldn’t weigh you down yet fully function when needed. Today, their lineup includes everything from pocket blankets to duffel bags to hydration packs.
Location: Boulder, CO
Known For: Packable Adventure Gear
Developed in favor of travel, music and salt water, Passenger Clothing is outfitted as a facilitator of escapism. Built for those with a constant desire for off-the-grid living, wandering with a purpose to remote regions, and forging lifelong friendships along the way. Here, it’s clothing and apparel positioned to support such as lifestyle. Better yet, they’re committed to planting one tree for every order received.
Location: New Forest, UK
Known For: Casual Outdoor Apparel
Typically, it’s a safe bet when an accomplished mountaineer launches his own brand. In this case, Nori Suzuki found inspiration while traversing the American West (hence the name) initially releasing their flagship product – the “TB Jacket” – in 2007. Since then, Teton Bros has developed stunning outdoor mountaineering and ski apparel for the Japanese market using innovative textiles from the likes of Polartec, Pertex, and Primaloft.
Location: Niseko, Japan
Known For: Mountaineering Gear
If there’s any outdoor brand out there that’s technologically ahead of their time it’s Vollebak. Not only is every new release a style-forward option, but the ingenuity that goes into the R&D phase of each piece simply sets them apart from your traditional outdoor gear brand. For instance, we’re talking a hoodie designed to last 100 years (yes, seriously), a solar jacket that illuminates after dusk, the world’s first ceramic clothing system, and hoodies scientifically proven to help you relax.
Location: London, UK
Known For: Futuristic Adventure Gear
Masking enhanced survival functionality with the traditional form factor of the flashlight, VSSL builds, you guessed it, “vessels” positioned to house and transport essential survival gear in the unforgiving outdoors. Also, in case you’re wondering, yes, at their core these are high-quality LED flashlights. However, it’s their ability to offer an extremely compact and efficient manner in which to transport items like waterproof matches, first aid supplies, fire starters, and compasses that really enables this brand to outshine the competition.
Location: Abbotsford, BC
Known For: Survival Gear
As a general rule of thumb, heavier clothing and additional layering result in greater restriction. Western Rise, on the other hand, looks to upend that close-minded assumption through developing a blend of outerwear that’s both highly functional yet stylish in the process. They’ve combined high-performance fabrics and developed innovative construction techniques to help us rethink what is possible in the outdoors. All field-tested in the American West.
Location: Telluride, CO
Known For: Outerwear
The Best American Made Clothing Brands
Looking for some year-round American-made style essentials? Be sure to check out this list of the best American-made clothing brands for a little homegrown inspiration.