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Industry

Our Favorite US Makers (Part 2)

by , February 7, 2017
Following up on part 1 of our favorite US makers, we salute the sewers, cutters, designers, and more who honor the small details and continuously strive for high standards in part 2…
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Ezra Arthur

Ezra Arthur (formerly Bison Made) crafts heirloom-quality pieces by hand using American materials. Based in Phoenix, Arizona, the company is owned by four brothers and named after their grandfather. Their range of handsome leather wallets are built to last and age gracefully with use to create proper story pieces for future generations.
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Ezra Arthur
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Ezra Arthur
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Ezra Arthur
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Ezra Arthur
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Ezra Arthur
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Rivendell Mountain Works

One of the original heritage brands and creator of the iconic Jensen Pack, Rivendell Mountain Works has an extensive and influential history dating back to 1971. Functioning as a micro-cottage industry, RMW’s gear is made by hand in a number of home workshops and the brand prides itself on quality, durability and attention to detail.
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Rivendell Mountain Works
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Rivendell Mountain Works
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Rivendell Mountain Works
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Rivendell Mountain Works .
KILLSPENCER

KILLSPENCER excel at bringing a touch of luxury to everyday and travel carry. The brand’s clean designs merge sleek urban style and premium materials, with each one made by hand in KILLSPENCER’s Los Angeles HQ. Founded by industrial designer Spencer Nikosey, what started out as a personal project is now a thriving business crafting timeless and elegant pieces for work and play.

KILLSPENCER

KILLSPENCER

KILLSPENCER

KILLSPENCER

KILLSPENCER

The Brown Buffalo

The Brown Buffalo is owned by Douglas Davidson, a product designer (and Carryology contributor 🙂 ) whose extensive experience includes serving as Senior Design Director for Burton Snowboards and Design Director for The North Face. The Brown Buffalo creates a diverse range of carry gear in California, including backpacks, totes, luggage and more that fuse urban-friendly aesthetics with versatile designs.
 The Brown Buffalo
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The Brown Buffalo
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The Brown Buffalo
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The Brown Buffalo
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The Brown Buffalo
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ZimmerBuilt

There are a lot of great backpacks out there, but sometimes you want something personal – and that’s what ZimmerBuilt provides. Specializing in custom-made ultralight backpacks, ZimmerBuilt allows customers to tailor designs and materials to their specific needs and preferences, resulting in unique pieces for each user. The brand’s founder Christopher Zimmer builds each bag by hand in Doylestown, Ohio.
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ZimmerBuilt
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ZimmerBuilt
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ZimmerBuilt
ZimmerBuilt
ZimmerBuilt
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McHale

Founded by Dan McHale over three decades ago, McHale Packs produces custom ultralight backpacks that are specifically designed for each user’s particular needs. Made in Seattle, Washington, the brand’s packs find the sweet spot between light weight and durability, providing comfortable and reliable carry for alpine adventures.
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McHale
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McHale
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McHale
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CiloGear

CiloGear is a lean manufacturer building bags on an on-demand basis in Portland, Oregon. The brand’s focus is crafting well-respected and award-winning alpine backpacks, though urban and travel bags also form part of their offerings.
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CiloGear
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CiloGear
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CiloGear
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Forestbound

Founded by Alice Saunders and based in Somerville, Massachusetts, Forestbound aims to bring the past into the present, merging practical designs with striking aesthetics. The brand utilizes found and salvaged textiles to create eye-catching totes and carryalls for the Forestbound Originals line, while the ESCAPE Canvas Utility Bag line takes inspiration from vintage canvas tool bags.
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Forestbound
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Forestbound
Forestbound
Forestbound
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High Above

High Above delivers durable and versatile hip packs to demanding users who want to carry their essentials in a bag that can handle urban and outdoor environments equally well. Each bag is handmade in Bellingham, Washington, with owner and designer (and Carryology contributor!) John Canfield at the helm. John’s experience includes product manufacturing at Mystery Ranch and sewing and design for Rivendell Mountain Works.

High Above

High Above

High Above

Yonezawa Leather

Takeshi Yonezawa, the founder of Yonezawa Leather, first started leatherworking in Tokyo. What began as a hobby ultimately became a business based on crafting premium leather goods that are both beautiful and functional. Each piece is made by hand in Beaverton, Oregon, with materials sourced from Europe, the U.S.A. and Japan.

Yonezawa Leather

Yonezawa Leather

Yonezawa Leather

Yonezawa Leather

Yonezawa Leather

Yonezawa Leather

  • Kurt Kessler

    What about Tom Bihn?

    • TeamCarryology

      Good call @disqus_goZHPFIGXI:disqus! We’ll update.

  • Jonas Hanna

    I agree with the addition of Tom Bihn. Also surprisingly missing from the party is Red Oxx and Topo Designs!

  • Kyle

    I love what Joshu+Vela is doing. Great proportions and materials.

  • Brad

    Where do you draw the line between “maker” and manufacturer”? are Tom Bihn, or Topo for that matter still makers? I think that scale would factor in no?

    • TeamCarryology

      Good question, Brad! For us, it comes down to keeping the ‘making’ in-house and on-site, once there’s a seperate plant making things away from HQ, then I’d say that brand’s moved beyond ‘maker’ status. Do you agree?

      • Brad

        A good point. The idea of ‘in-house’ is a good metric. I think one of the main appeals of a good “maker piece” is the walk that a piece takes along the ‘handmade but not poorly made’ line. I like a piece that feels like it was cut with scissors and sewn by one or two people in a small room. Certainly this is an idealized version of what being a maker really is but, in the end, the ‘blood sweat and tears’ felt in a piece is what really draws me to it. Guys like Tom Bihn are doing a great deal of good for manufacturing in the united states; scaling at their own pace, keeping it in house, and producing high-quality work, but they have also gone to great (and successful) lengths to evict the blood, sweat, and tears component in favor of a more highly refined (commercialized?) product. Nothing wrong with that, but in my eyes it intersects too much with larger scale production and manufacturing. They don’t claim to be makers, to their credit and I only sight them as but one example. I also tend to associate natural fibers, leather,etc with the term “maker” though I could very well have a narrow view of what being a maker actually is in that regard. Zimmerbuilt and McHale tick a lot of ‘maker boxes” while still using highly synthetic fabrics in their work and they would support the latter myopic statement. I suppose in the end it really does come down to a particular alchemy of scale-material-intention and that, in the end, is part of what makes each person’s individual carry interests and the aesthetics we are drawn to unique and personal.

        • TeamCarryology

          Well said, @brad! The “alchemy of scale-material-intention” feels totally right.

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