View Full Version : Made In USA ?

08-21-2009, 04:32 AM
I opened my LL Bean hunting 2009 Fall mini-catalog to see what items I might need for the upcoming outdoor celebrations (some people call it hunting seasons).

I began to notice that in each product description, the overwhelming amount of stuff NOT made in US-on the first 10 pages only 2 of approximately 27 products were made in the US. These products consist of shotguns, hunting designed clothing, packs, knives and 1 dog tracking GPS

I honestly do not usually get too caught up in the origin of the products as I am accustomed to buying many products NOT made in the USA---but I thought it kinda sad that when a store like LLBean would offer such a large line of imported items. I do not mean to bash Bean. I like the place and have bought quite a few items there-best pair of hunting/hiking boots I could find for my hard to fit feet came from Bean-I am looking at their northweave pants and maybe a pair of the rubber bottom 16 inch Bean boots.

I guess I am getting more alert to such things as I get older. Where do you find stuff for our outdoor pursuits made in US?

08-21-2009, 07:20 AM
Good Luck

Over the last couple years I've tried to start buying USA made products whenever possible,even if they cost more. Alot of catologs seem to have a little symbol for Made in the USA. This is one of the reasons I buy from Kifaru, the money stays right here, Americans work, and its great stuff. I really think that is a big part of why our economy sucks so bad right now, they have shipped the manufacturing base of our country south and over seas.

Just my 1 cent, uncle sam taxed the other one.

Lost Arra
08-21-2009, 07:27 AM
If you are looking at Bean clothing I hope you know how to sew buttons on because those Chinese kids sure don't.

08-21-2009, 08:12 AM
By and large the American people want goods that are inexpensive. That means overseas production for the most part, particularly when it comes to clothing. Even some higher end, quality stuff is imported. In fact, most of it is. Your options are limited. Cabela's, REI, Patagonia, North Face, etc. are all similar in product production as Bean. Filson is U.S. made if their gear will work for you. Danner has moved much of their boot production overseas to keep a good portion of their line within a certain price point. Heck, even most of the major knife makers have gone to off shore production for the bulk of their lines. I think if you search, you'll find some threads that list American made gear that might help a bit. I buy it when I can (and can afford it), but you can go nuts trying to buy it all American.

08-21-2009, 08:34 AM
Hey Lost Arra, you must of had some bad luck with the Bean clothing:(. My wife is an LL Bean freak when it comes to their clothing, as she likes the fit and quality. She has not had any problems whatsoever with buttons or anything else as far as durability, comfort, and quality. I will say that they have outstanding customer service, because that's the first thing I look for in any company that I deal with. My wife even ended up getting an LL Bean credit card, because with it, there are no shipping charges on any order. I get worried everytime a new LL Bean catalog shows up, which is quite often:).


Lost Arra
08-21-2009, 09:06 AM
Maybe so Mel.

4 buttons from one order just trying on a shirt and wool pants.
The pants and the shirt were both nice just a bad day for the button kids.
I was laughing by the time the 4th one popped off. My wife didn't think it funny since she re-sewed all of the buttons on both garments.

Hint: sew buttons on with Power Pro fishing line and they are attached forever.

08-21-2009, 09:49 AM
The vast majority of the products in the Filson catalog on my table are imported. My biggest beef with someone like Filson is that they import the clothes but keep the sticker price as if it was still made up in Seattle. Their prices didn't go down when they move the production.

For example, the infamous Filson Jac-Shirt (wool) - $155.00 and imported...

Wingshooting Jacket - $295 and imported

Wingshooting pants - $175 and imported

North Fork Wading Jacket - $325 and imported

How about a $225 down vest...imported.

...or a $300 imported Ranger Vest?

...not to bag on Filson (well, actually, maybe I am), but if you're going to go the cheaper production route, you'd think that the prices would reflect it.

08-21-2009, 09:57 AM
Dang, I thought Filson was still made here! It's been a while since I looked at it.

David in OR
08-21-2009, 10:14 AM
I did, too. I just looked at the three Filson items I've bought in the last couple years:

Small field bag: USA

Featherweight shirt: China

Wool vest: USA

08-21-2009, 10:30 AM
At the risk of stepping on some toes...

I don't have a problem with products made overseas if they're of the quality that I'm looking for at the price that I'm willing to pay. I don't think that anyone here has a problem paying for Zeiss/Swarovski/Leica quality even though it's not made here.

Likewise, I don't have a problem with $8.88 shoes for my kids from Wal-Mart that are made in some 3rd world country. The rate my five kids grow and wear on stuff like that I would go broke if I had to buy them domestically made shoes at $100/pair (if you could find a pair of domestically made shoes for kids these days).

Here's the stepping on toes part...

I actually think that, while well intentioned, we actually do a disservice with the "buy American at all costs" attitude. If it's an inferior product to some import but we're trying to be patriotic by keeping the dollars here in the US we're only really succeeding at reinforcing the notion that producing inferior goods at higher prices will be ok so long as it keeps the jobs here. The US was formed on a capitalistic mentality - I'm still of the opinion that if we (Americans) needed to, we could produce the best products at the best prices - and in some cases we still do. But the market should dictate that.

No offense to anyone intended...just my two cents.

08-21-2009, 10:35 AM
Well said Songdog! The Unions are of no help in the US as well. Pay some lazy, ignorant slob $28 to push a button and not work 1-minute extra. Sorry for any toes as well. I do try and buy US made, but very hard. My Ford was assembled outside the US, etc.

08-21-2009, 11:07 AM
Good point Songdog although I have to say my experience with the Payless/Wal-Mart/Target shoes for the kids has been pretty poor. They haven't been able to outgrow them before blowing them out unfortunately. Still buying imported stuff, just more -- ugh -- expensive. Do love my Kifaru and WM gear though. Worth the money to get that stuff that's made here. I don't find it nearly as big of a deal with clothes. My Railrider pants are the most durable I've owned and they are all imported (expensive too).

hunting1, the irony of auto production is rich. My Chevy truck was assembled in Canada. My Nissan and my wife's Subaru were both built in the U.S. Guess which ones have had less problems? Go figure.

Kevin B
08-21-2009, 12:13 PM
There's no point in being upset at foreign production.

It's a symptom, it's not a, or even "the" problem. Moving offshore to make money is a consequence of the obvious. That being that we've regulated these facets of our economy offshore. The premise that all work deserves a wage that is government set, regardless of it's simplicity IE the lack of any kind of skill or education of the person conducting the work, results in an artificial labor market. This is further worsened by the litigious nature of our society and requisite loss control expense and insurance costs. The regulation of our production, labor and social entitlement taxation has factually eliminated the possibility of cost effective production of a litany of products in the US.

We can't have our cake and eat it too. We can't demand low cost/high quality products while artificially increasing the cost of those products relative to global labor, raw materials and other regulatory costs. The US is on a course to eliminate its manufacturing of many widely distributed products. There will continue to be niche products of very high quality and modest distribution (Kifaru) that will continue to exist for a highly educated and demanding consumer base. But don't think that even Kifaru isn't affected by these realities.

The problem is regulation/taxation. Wage, benefit, social entitlement taxation, safety, energy etc. There is an upside, we continue to have cheap products reducing our cost of living. Our choices are simply to adapt to a service and R&D nation sending production overseas or to change the nature of our regulations. There are security consequences for maintaining limited production capabilities but I see no signs of interest in addressing the source of that problem. Unions of Labor fail to see the irony of their existence in the modern US. Increased costs of labor that don't deliver equal or better improvements of productivity are necessarily anti-competitive. I'm not anti union per se. The local Boeing situation is a perfect example. Unions want greater and greater benefits/wages while Boeing has access to Chinese manufacturing at a fraction of the cost. They have access to other states in the US where there's a "right to work" law yet they continue to hold fast to the realities of times now passing us by.

People think of products as what companies make. Products are incidental. Products meet the primary need of the company to make what the company exists for, Money.

08-21-2009, 12:58 PM
Lots of good points here. We could argue this one forever.

My opinion is the more jobs we keep in the states, the better off we are.

Say Patrick wanted to put more money in his pocket and move production to Mexico. What effect would this have on his workers(obvious), the local economy where Kifaru is located, suppliers to Kifaru and on and on.....???

one-eyed Bob
08-21-2009, 02:44 PM
I believe we will have greater world peace due to global trade which develops a middle class in these manufacturing countries. This allows them to buy our services since we still have the largest economy. China is much less dangerous today due to small businesses and jobs, even though they pay poorly by our standards the money goes a long way there.

08-21-2009, 03:33 PM
Developing a middle class in other countries is OK with me, just not at the expense of dismantling ours. All the profit from these imported goods sure isn't helping my retirement account. All the same, I try to buy American but this is becoming increasingly difficult to do these days.

08-21-2009, 04:48 PM
Some very insightful posts here. I started this thread mostly out of curiosity-that is to see if others are more aware than me of the decline of USA made goods. Something very interesting is that many of the brands mentioned by posters are assumed to be USA made but it seems few folks were truly aware of how little we produce for our own consumption. I know I was in the dark about the lack of outdoors equipment made here at home until very recently. I assume that many of the Kifaru forum members are more keenly aware of the lack of US made goods than the average Joe; and many of us didnít realize this until someone pointed it out!

Kevinís post points out issues that I see as potential threats to the image of our country if not something much more severe-long term. What effect does this have on the entrepreneurial spirit in our country? Could it be I am looking at this wrong? Maybe this is a -when one door closes, one door opens -situation. I have thought about having a store that met the needs of outdoorsman like us-a combination of items for hunting, hiking, fishing and other pursuits that take place in Mother Nature's backyard. I have had serious discussions with potential partners about such an endeavor but it is quite intimidating in this business climate. Are there any more success stories out there waiting to happen?
The more I think about this issue the more questions it seems to bring up.


08-22-2009, 08:54 AM
In the past several years, I have made a conscious attempt to buy fewer items which are of higher quality with the hope that they will last. This is in part a response to my trying to reduce the materialism I see in myself. The cost I pay is in fewer opportunities for the thrill of the purchase. Sometimes I find myself overemphasizing the stuff of hunting more than the actual hunting. I have a hunch this change in emphasis relates to age and a growing awareness of the finite number of seasons left to me (I'm 51.) Consequently, I am increasingly fond of small "cottage-industry" manufacturers. Kifaru qualifies, but this often means even smaller outfits. An example would be Empire Canvas Works. I have mixed feelings about the where is it made issue. On the one hand, I do try to buy American (and Canadian) when possible. Yet, it is true that countries that trade together fight each other less often. All things considered, I'd rather buy Chinese goods than send my son off to war with them at some future time. The button falling off phenomenon is annoying. I have bought a number of Joseph A. Banks dress trousers recently to replenish my work wardrobe. My brother once swore by them. The buttons have been falling off like leaves hitting the dirt in the Fall. I haven't looked but I bet the trousers are no longer made here.

08-22-2009, 09:37 AM
I find it difficult to reconcile our competitive, free market past with the concept of buying inferior goods domestically for higher prices. I buy the best product at the desired price point...if ALL things are equal, I opt for the local product...but they rarely are equal.

Jack Welch from GE had a theory regarding how to handle non-competitive employees ....something akin to "If you cannot compete, you need to be fired immediately so you still have a chance to go back, learn, then get back in the game"

08-22-2009, 12:06 PM
Jack Welch was partially right. Well, maybe it was more "too much of a good thing." His hyper-competitive policies would reward people for cutting off coworkers to get ahead. In the end it did as much harm to the company as it did good. IMO. Like the football team that scrimmages so hard everyone is injured for the REAL game.

08-24-2009, 08:54 PM
With all the above said, it is absolutely crucial, both to the individual and to the nation, that education be deepened, broadened, and refreshed regularly. At all scholastic levels and in professions and trades. Not an original thought, lot's of talk about for years now, but I don't see it taking hold for "the masses".

The Rust Belt is now 35 years old, yet another couple generations still sit there underemployed, across from "the old mill". Except for the few who escape to the Sun Belt or military, there is no interest in education and seemingly no horizons beacon. This huge population that perceives itself tied to the old home town/state/union/whatever may represent a lost generation of potential and a key vulnerability to American renewal.

Rambler, that's an interesting thought on Welch, BTW. Ambitious back-stabbing SOB's can certainly sour an organizational culture.

09-01-2009, 02:22 PM
Yeah, its pretty difficult trying to find "Made in USA" stuff today. I've pretty much resigned myself to that fact. - - - But sometimes, when I'm ready to go into the great American outdoors and am feeling a bit nostalgic (though I'm not old enough to qualify for those emotions probably) I especially miss home built stuff. I enjoy looking at those calendars with old sportsmans art on them - with old time elk camps or duck camps and the guys having a good time. And, its a little off putting to look at my Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation coffee cup stamped "Made in China" on the bottom. - - - On the other hand, I picked up a pair of Schnees hunting boots while over in Bozeman Montana last week and these are made there. (And if some component or other of my new boots are made in China, you can just *&^%$ keep that information to yourself !) Regards, - - -

one-eyed Bob
09-01-2009, 07:21 PM
We are purchasing gear now for prices similar to what we paid 30 years ago due to the lower costs of foreign manufacturing. You are correct that unions, which I believe were needed to combat certain unfair practices, became greedy for money and power. Now we have to relearn. As I posted earlier, however, peace comes from contented middle classes in countries around the world. For the most part, they are just like us.