A footwear company won the title, hands down. LUNA Sandals was named the overall winner of the fifth-annual American Made Outdoor Gear Award, sponsored by Kokatat, as announced at this year's Outdoor Retailer Winter Market in Salt Lake City, UT.
Open to all American manufacturers with a compelling story, this year's American Made Outdoor Gear Awards were again hotly contested, with LUNA rising to the top.
"We had another year of fantastic entries, but LUNA was a clear standout," says Jeff Turner of Kokatat. "Like so many great brands, LUNA started in a garage, and they have embraced domestic manufacturing as a way to support their local community while growing their greater community."
LUNA Sandals handcrafts its adventure sandals in Seattle, and for their accolades will take one-year ownership of the "Sassy" travelling trophy — a two-foot tall, hand-carved, redwood Sasquatch from Humboldt County.
"We're so proud to make the best sandals we can right in Seattle," says company founder Ted McDonald. "As a such a small company, we hope that winning the Sassy will inspire others to follow their passions because if you follow your heart anything is possible."
Kokatat's hosting of the awards is rooted in its own history, as the brand's founder and president, Steve O'Meara, recognized from the start that keeping production local was necessary in order to control quality and continually develop the finest and driest paddling apparel in the world.
In addition to the overall winner, winners in several categories based on company size were also awarded. The category winners received a miniature version of the Sassy award during the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market celebration.
In the five years of the program the American Made Outdoor Gear Awards has received over 300 entries from domestic manufacturers. Past overall winners have included Liberty Bottleworks, Benchmade Knives, Sterling Rope and Hyperlight Mountain Gear.
Category winners of the 2016 American Made Outdoor Gear awards include:
Under 10 Employees: Cleverhood (www.cleverhood.com) of Providence, RI, a cycling cape manufacturer.
10 to 50 Employees: Frost River (www.frostriver.com) of Duluth, MN, a bag and durable goods manufacturer.
50-100 Employees: Rock Exotica (www.rockexotica.com) of Orem, UT, a rock climbing gear manufacturer.
>100+ Employees: Exxel Outdoors (www.exxel.com) of Boulder, CO, an outdoor gear manufacturer.
For additional information about the 2017 American Made Outdoor Gear Award visit www.americanmadeoutdoorgearawards.com
About the American Made Outdoor Gear Award:
Founded by Kokatat and shared with the Outdoor Industry, the American Made Outdoor Gear Award is a celebration of American manufacturing. First awarded in 2013, the American Made Outdoor Gear Award recognizes companies with compelling domestic manufacturing stories. Finalists are announced annually on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, and the winners are recognized at an awards ceremony during the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market. The company with the best "made in America" story receives one-year ownership of the 'Sassy' travelling trophy — a hand carved, 3-foot-tall, redwood Sasquatch from Humboldt County, CA — and all category winners receive miniature versions of the award. Along with highlighting company stories, the program tracks domestic manufacturing trends and insights in the outdoor industry.