Buying local is becoming more and more mainstream. We have it pretty easy in Seattle – Starbucks, Microsoft, Expedia. It’s hard not to buy local, really. But when given the option, often the local brands have something unique, refreshing, and completely worthy of your attention. SBM traveled to the Outdoor Retailers Conference in Salt Lake City and met up with these awesome Washington local outdoor brands.

Sherpa Adventure Gear – Headquartered in Renton and manufactured in Nepal, they make stylish clothing with a Sherpa flair. (We love the prayer flag- inspired zipper pulls!) They are also committed to the global community by donating a portion of all their sales to the Sherpa Education Fund which benefits underprivileged Sherpa children.

REI – Believe it or not, Recreational Equipment Inc. has been around since 1938 as a co-op. Their chief goal has always been to supply outdoor enthusiasts with quality climbing gear, and they do it with panache. In case you’ve never been in the flagship store, it really is a treat. Climb the famous 65 foot pinnacle while you shop.

Cascade Designs – These guys make Thermarest, MSR, Platypus, Seal Line and a few other (perhaps less recognizable) brands. They have been around since 1972 and proudly make more than 80% of their products in the USA, many of them right in the SODO district of Seattle. I was honored with a tour of their factory this summer, and thoroughly enjoyed seeing outdoor products rolling fresh off the presses!

Outdoor Research – When you mix a physicist with a mountaineer, you get the founder of OR. These guys have a history of creating gear out of necessity during outdoor adventures. The result is high end gear that performs in extreme situations – laborious research and serious quality.

Mountaineers Books was spun off of the much loved Mountaineers in the 1960s. This non-profit publishing arm of the Mountaineers (which is also Seattle based and over 100 years old) publishes outdoor recreation, sustainable lifestyle, and conservation advocacy books.  If you are looking for a how-to, a guide book or a great story in the outdoor adventure category, the Mountaineers Books has it. Mountaineers Books keeps us engaged in the outdoors even when we’re confined to the couch!

Nuun – This Seattle based company makes tablets full of electrolytes to keep you going on the trail. They pride themselves in being greener than those grocery store sports drinks. A tablet in your own water bottle: Simple, clever, tasty and so much easier to carry in your backpack than 10 bottles of sports drinks.

Seattle Sports designs techie-friendly gadgets for all sorts of outdoor sports from paddle boarding to camping to boating. They design for the more frugal shopper and maintain creative ideas for products you might not even know you need.

Rite in the Rain – We had to include this sweet little gem. You can’t camp in our neck of the woods and write about it unless you have something like this. They have been around since the 1920s when loggers needed to write in the rainy Pacific Northwest weather. Their motto is “Outdoor writing products for outdoor writing people” and since we’re definitely inspired to write while on the trail, it’s a perfect fit.

Liberty Bottleworks makes the only 100% recycled water bottle. And they make it in the USA; specifically Yakima, Washington.  Their designs are sassy – from Topo map overlays to Rosie the Riveter and the good ole Stars and Stripes, the company’s designs inspire American culture and style. Local, green and stylish, do we need to say more? Okay, their website is pretty nifty too.

There are so many more we didn’t meet up with at the OR conference; we’re already looking forward to the next one. If you have a favorite local Washington State outdoor company, we’d love to hear it on Facebook or Twitter.

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