Seattle-based brand Outdoor Research opened a new factory in California, bringing its domestic manufacturing workforce to 200 people.
Outdoor Research has built some of its outdoor gear in the United States for decades. That’s in part because it makes a lot of products for elite military, law enforcement, and government agencies. Many of these groups must buy products from domestic manufacturers.
But now it’s expanding its domestic production of performance apparel and outdoor gear by investing in a new manufacturing facility that opened in April. The new factory doubles the number of Outdoor Research staff building apparel and gear onshore.
The new, wholly owned factory in El Monte, California, joins the manufacturing enterprise Outdoor Research has operated for decades at its Seattle headquarters.
Military Production, Recreational Trickle-Down
Due to its military division, Outdoor Research has often dabbled in tip-of-the-spear technology very early in its development cycle. For example, it used GORE-TEX Stretch fabric in military applications more than a year before pushing it into consumer applications in 2018.
“Outdoor Research has a long history of successfully leveraging the best commercial market technologies to serve the needs of the U.S. armed forces,” the brand said in a press release.
“Innovations developed for the military and tactical markets have, in turn, driven innovations in products for outdoor consumers. Having highly skilled manufacturing located in the U.S. gives Outdoor Research the ability to prototype products on-site, allowing new products to be developed more quickly and to go through more rounds of improvement. In addition, innovations pioneered for the military and tactical markets have been incorporated into outdoor products.”
U.S. Manufacturing to Accelerate Product Development
Michelle Wardian, president of Outdoor Research, said the new investment will allow the brand to accelerate its product-development cycle.
“We’re proud that we’ve been able to bring American manufacturing to the table to accomplish this,” Wardian said.
An Outdoor Research spokesman said that recently imposed tariffs on foreign goods did not affect its decision to open the second factory. But this move clearly positions the brand to manufacture more goods in the States.
Outdoor Research said it conducted a comprehensive review of the U.S. supply chain over the last 2 years. It’s in active development with textile mills and materials providers to expand and elevate the capabilities of U.S. manufacturers to improve the quality of products made solely in America.
The brand also said it made “significant” capital investments in cutting-edge machinery and process efficiency to improve and modernize its Seattle factory, along with hiring more site engineers. Outdoor Research replicated this template in El Monte to significantly increase its U.S. manufacturing capacity.