It’s time to celebrate the brands making world-class outdoor gear right here in our own backyard.
This North Carolina-based brand prides itself on keeping its entire supply chain within 250 miles of its Charlotte headquarters. This polo serves up all the high-performance attributes of Recover’s recycled-PET fabric, which feels surprisingly soft for something made from old water bottles, and looks snazzy when you transition from trail to brewpub.
Icon Denim Shirt for Women
Kitsbow moved down to the small textile town of Old Fort, N.C., simply because it saw the promise and potential of making apparel in the small Southern town. That decision has pumped cash into the community and cemented the authentic attitude of the brand in the core outdoor community in the region. In 2022, employees and local investors took over ownership of the brand. This sharp denim shirt shows off how a bike brand with that mindset can make a shirt ideal for a night on the town, trail, or sitting on the porch.
Founded in 2002 by local paddler Philip Curry, Asheville’s Astral Designs has a well-earned reputation for producing hardcore paddling gear. And its technical footwear impresses both guides and weekend warriors with know-how gained on long days on the river. With a self-draining, grippy outsole, the Loyak shines when you are trying to haul gear in and out of a raft—but its low volume and tread are just as welcome on a wet hike or even just kicking around the house.
Asheville-based Eagles Nest Outfitters has helped define the casual end of the Southern outdoor scene. Its hammocks encourage lazing around no matter where you set up camp—from Pisgah to the porch. You will find that portable comfort in its easy-to-stow, easy-to-set-up camp chair, the aptly-named Lounger DL, which takes inspiration from its beloved hammocks. And the Dead Heads among us all covet the tie-dye print.
Appalachian Gear Company
Textile pros John Gage and Mike Hawkins wanted to champion American manufacturing and the resilience and beauty of the Appalachian mountains, so they invested in alpacas, the South American pack animals, then set up shop in Charlotte and started spinning fabric to make U.S. apparel with a new twist. With style and intelligence from the Andes, this surprisingly versatile poncho keeps you warm but breathes and is the ideal garb for festival season.
Loft Rooftop Tent
Founded in 2004 in Brevard, N.C., SylvanSport shook up the camper market with its light, easy-to-stow yet super-classy Go Trailer. For those of us who don’t want to commit to a full trailer right now, the car-top tent is an outstanding option, giving you the ability to camp almost anywhere and then revert your vehicle back to daily duties when you get back home. Better yet, you can also set up the ultra-light tent on the brand’s Go Easy kayak trailer.
Founded in 2019 in BRO’s home base of Charlottesville, Va., Waterbird helps you bring a bit of sophistication to car camping, backpacking, or a summit hike (just please pack it out). We suggest you try all the mixes, but we are partial to the swagger and pop of the Ranch Water, a combo of blanco tequila from Jalisco, Mexico, soda, and lime juice that would wow even the snobbiest mixologist.
$9 (four pack), waterbirdspirits.com