18th September | Words by Matt Jones @ WildBounds HQ
Here at WildBounds, we painstakingly scour the globe to bring you only the very best gear, from high-performance backpacking tents to heirloom-quality clothing and accessories. And when it comes to finding premium outfitters for outdoor lifestyles and epic adventures, American brands often come up trumps.
Quite why that is, we’re not sure. Maybe it has something to do with America’s enduring love affair with wide open spaces and the great outdoors – its vast wilderness areas, incredible National Parks and epic long-distance trails. Maybe it has something to do with the nation’s entrepreneurial spirit –the unswerving belief that a combination of vision, ingenuity, and good old-fashioned hard work can change the world. Either way, it works, as the superlative products from this list of our favourite all-American brands clearly demonstrates.
1. Sierra Designs
Founded in California in 1965, Sierra Designs is dedicated to building functional, beautiful and attainable outdoor equipment and apparel. Stand-out products include the brand’s innovative Flex Capacitor packs and zipperless Cloud sleeping bags. And if you’re after the ideal entry-level backpacking tent, check out their new Meteor 3,000.
2. Western Mountaineering
There must be something about the Golden State that inspires great outdoor kit, as Western Mountaineering is another great brand out of California – San Jose, to be precise. That’s where they make all their premium down sleeping bags, which as far as we’re concerned are, pound for pound, just about the best bags in the business.
In 1897, Clinton C. Filson founded C.C. Filson's Pioneer Alaska Clothing and Blanket Manufacturers in Seattle, Washington. His store was built to outfit prospectors on their way to the Klondike Gold Rush, so the clothing and blankets were of the highest quality. Filson’s motto? ‘Might as well have the best’. Over 120 years later, the brand continues to turn out premium packs and bags that are made to last a lifetime of adventures.
Another famous all-American brand with firm roots in the Pacific Northwest, Pendleton Woollen Mills was established over 150 years ago, making fine quality trade blankets for the tribes of the Columbia River and the Southwest. Today, Pendleton still manufactures a range of stunning luxury woollen blankets that are equally at home on a campsite or on your couch.
5. The James Brand
The James Brand does things differently. Since 2012, they have been redefining the pocket-knife as an essential item of everyday carry for modern life. The brand’s statement of intent was its first offering, the Chapter. Eight years on, the range includes nine different blades, from the slip-joint County to the liner-lock Folsom. There’s also a range of other essential everyday carry items, from key carabiners to stylish pens and even a very useful little bottle opener multi-tool named the Halifax.
6. NEMO Equipment
NEMO – or New England Mountain Equipment, to give the brand its full name – was the brainchild of US mountaineer Cam Brensinger, born one turbulent night on the side of the 6,000ft Mount Washington, the most prominent peak east of the Mississippi. Nearly two decades later, NEMO Equipment continues to produce some of the best lightweight backpacking tents we’ve ever used, including our personal favourite, the Dragonfly. The inventory also includes a range of other innovative and genuinely useful camping gear, from sleeping bags to blankets.
Eagle’s Nest Outfitters (ENO) was built off the back of a classic US road trip. In 1999, the fledgling hammock brand set out with their first products, heading up the East Coast from Florida in a ramshackle minivan. Their hammocks were the first to use a knotless hanging system, making setup a cinch. If you’re looking for a comfortable and practical hammock to hang out in, you’ll love them.
8. Mystery Ranch
If you’re contracted to make packs for US Navy SEALs and USAF Pararescue teams, you’ve gotta be doing something right. Mystery Ranch packs have been hauled into and out of conflict zones, raging wildfires, high mountain ranges and some of the most remote regions on Earth. But they're also ideally suited for urban living, from grabbing groceries at the corner shop to, well, toting your dog around town. Regardless of the mission, you can be confident that a Mystery Ranch pack is up to the job.
9. UCO Gear
Established more than half a century ago in Seattle, Washington, UCO Gear makes simple, functional and timeless candle lanterns. The throwback design has plenty of retro appeal but also means there’s no need to worry about batteries, bulbs, camping gas or paraffin. We think you’ll love their warm glow, whether you’re a camper, a backpacker or just someone who appreciates the soft flicker of candlelight.
10. Topo Designs
Colorado is the perfect playground for outdoor adventurers, and the ideal home for rucksack brand Topo Designs. Their simple but durable designs, like the Klettersack and the Rover, remind us of the early days of the outdoor industry, when gear was made by genuine hikers, climbers and mountaineers in basement workshops. It’s no wonder their uncomplicated but stylish packs are adored by fashionistas, outdoorsy types and independent creatives alike.