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Perhaps we should have started out this series with Vapur, and their Anti-bottle, since they are all about independence. Well, independence from disposable bottles as well as bulky reusable bottles. Based in Southern California, they manufacture a reusable water bottle that folds up for easy storage when empty. No matter how good their product is, they wouldn’t make it on our list if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s American made. Vapur is also committed to curbing the use of disposable bottles worldwide, while helping the impoverished inhabitants of third world countries gain access to clean drinking water through various charitable programs. As they succeed, everyone benefits.
Last October, we covered Tough Gear, Inc., which makes Survival Straps™, one version of the paracord bracelets that have been gaining in popularity. Family run since 2005, this small company uses real mil-spec 550 cord (not the cheap stuff you find on most other bracelets) to make a wide range of products in an absolutely dizzying array of color combinations. At last count, there were more then 50,000 choices, so it’s safe to say that they can do a bit of customizing for you. We like them because they offer a really tough and cool looking stainless steel shackle in addition to the traditional plastic buckle. We also respect their involvement in the Wounded Warrior Project. They offer several items bearing the WWP logo, and 50% of the sales go to this charitable organization, which provides support to members of the military that have been injured. Although something of a niche product, it’s a premium one at that, and your support of this company keeps your dollars right here in the states.
Another small company that demonstrates the American entrepeneurial spirit is Green Guru Gear, out of Boulder, Colorado. Their main raw materials are recycled climbing rope and recycled bicycle inner tubes that would otherwise be adding to our overburdened landfills. Imagine a factory filled with workers making simple items like bracelets and key chains, as well as messenger bags, backpacks, and even a durable duffel bag, all out of something that was previously considered trash. While not exactly “rags to riches”, it’s still an example of creating jobs out of saving the environment, so they get our nod of approval.
In the same breath as Green Guru Gear, we must also mention Cycle Dog. With a similar business model that revolves around repurposing used bicycle inner tubes, Cycle Dog offers dog collars, leashes, folding water bowls, and even belts for people. As you might expect from a company making cycling-related products, they are based in Portland, Oregon. Besides developing and manufacturing all their products locally, they also proudly support the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, IMBA, and Oregon Active. Cycle Dog meets the criteria for our list with their local jobs, recycling efforts, and involvement in their community and beyond. Another American small business making a difference.
Although Aerotech doesn’t make all their cycling clothing domestically, they make a good portion of their product line in their factory located in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania. Efforts are made to minimize their use of imported materials, instead supporting more American companies. For more than 25 years, they have been outfitting amateur and professional cyclists alike, including some Texan name Armstrong, and the American Cycling Team that competed in the 1982 Olympics. Not a bad little outfit, if you need a cycling outfit.
This week we only touched the surface of American companies that make a difference, but we’re going to bring you more on a regular basis. It seems as though the outdoor industry has more than its fair share of small (and larger) business that want to keep their business stateside, even if they sell globally.