The 5 Best Outdoor Gear Brands You’ve Never Heard Of

Your local outdoor retailer probably doesn’t carry this stuff. But it should.

Adventurers make the best adventure clothing. (Photo: Jakob Schiller (6))
Adventurers make the best adventure clothing.

Part of the reason companies like Patagonia and Arc’teryx are so successful is because they were started by people who wanted to make the best clothing for their own adventures. Today, that same entrepreneurial spirit lives on with a new handful of boutique brands. Here are five we recommend keeping an eye on.  

NW Alpine

nw alpine
(Photo: Jakob Schiller)

Bill Amos launched NW Alpine during the height of the economic recession in 2008. His motivation was two-fold: bring manufacturing back to the U.S. and produce bomber climbing clothing. He’d noticed how large brands were moving toward lifestyle apparel and away from technical gear, and he wanted to bring the focus back to the high-performance stuff. He started with just 100 climbing pants. Sales took off and before long he moved from his apartment to a 3,000-square-foot warehouse. Today, NW Alpine makes everything from base layers to insulated belay jackets, along with the original climbing pants. All the manufacturing is still here in the U.S.


(Photo: Jakob Schiller)

Colorado-based Bambool makes base layers from a blend of bamboo and merino wool. Husband-and-wife team Craig and Jessica Woods started the company last year after stumbling onto bed sheets made of bamboo. They loved the soft, anti-bacterial, moisture-wicking characteristics of the bamboo fabric and decided to combine it with merino to create undergarments targeted at skiers that are even warmer than 100-percent merino. 


(Photo: Jakob Schiller)

In the small Canadian town where Bubba Albrecht spent time growing up, he often heard the term “give’r,” which meant “get after it.” A few years ago, Albrecht made a hat featuring the phrase and an outline of the Tetons (he now lives in the area). People regularly stopped to ask him about the hat, so he decided to start making them, and in March 2012 launched Give’r. The line has since expanded to include tees, hand-branded leather gloves, and high-performance base layers great for backcountry ski laps or practicing downward dog at your local yoga studio. Give'r is also a 1% for the Planet member, which means one percent of its profits support environmental work.

Roscoe Outdoor 

roscoe outdoor
(Photo: Jakob Schiller)

Hailey DeMarois and Hans Howell launched Roscoe Outdoor in 2008 from their homes in Montana because they wanted to create great climbing apparel. DeMarois has a design background, while Howell studied finance, so they were the perfect match. Their premier product these days is the Washakie pant, which features reinforced knees, a gusseted crotch, chalk-bag loop, a built-in waist belt, and cuffs that come with a reflective lining and a cinch to ensure they never creep down your leg. 

Ridge Merino 

ridge merino
(Photo: Jakob Schiller)

When Jeff Russell was a product director at Armada, he noticed that most athletes stayed away from synthetic base layers because they tend to stink after a few uses. So when he started his own base layer business, he knew he’d only design with merino wool. But here’s the problem: merino is expensive, and he wanted to create well-made products that wouldn’t cost a fortune. To keep things affordable, he and his wife decided to launch Ridge Merino last December as a direct-to-consumer business, which means you can only buy the products on their website (they're also a 1% for the Planet member).

Our mission to inspire readers to get outside has never been more critical. In recent years, Outside Online has reported on groundbreaking research linking time in nature to improved mental and physical health, and we’ve kept you informed about the unprecedented threats to America’s public lands. Our rigorous coverage helps spark important debates about wellness and travel and adventure, and it provides readers an accessible gateway to new outdoor passions. Time outside is essential—and we can help you make the most of it. Making a financial contribution to Outside Online only takes a few minutes and will ensure we can continue supplying the trailblazing, informative journalism that readers like you depend on. We hope you’ll support us. Thank you.
Contribute to Outside
Filed To: Clothing and ApparelPatagonia
Lead Photo: Jakob Schiller (6)
More Gear