I was doing research for an article when I came across the Mammut outdoor brand from Switzerland. The thing that surprised me, apart from the quality of their gear, was the year of this company’s foundation. It was founded in 1862 as a climbing rope manufacturer and has continued in the outdoor market non-stop since that year.
Fast forward a few months and I thought this could be an interesting topic for a new article here on CasualGeographical so I went on a search for the oldest outdoor brands still in the market today.
Here I’ve selected 9 of them, all with fascinating histories. Some of these brands’ roots go as far as the 1600s and 1700s!
Are you curious to learn about them? Here they are:
- 1. Woolrich
- 2. Filson
- 3. Orvis
- 4. L.L. Bean
- 5. Birkenstock
- 6. Meindl
- 7. Blundstone
- 8. Helly Hansen
- 9. Mammut
Oldest Outdoor Clothing and Gear Brands: Infographic
Woolrich official website
Woolrich, established in 1830, is an American heritage brand that holds the record of being the oldest outdoor clothing manufacturer in the United States. Initially, the brand focused on producing woolen clothing and fabrics.
However, in the 1850s, Woolrich introduced the Buffalo Check shirt, which later became one of the most popular designs worldwide and continues to be a trend even today.
Woolrich is not only renowned for its clothes manufacturing history but also for the role that the Rich family played in their community and US politics. This makes Woolrich a brand that understands not only the outdoor apparel market but also the people.
Despite facing hardships over the years, Woolrich is still one of the most reputable brands in the outdoor clothing market, thanks to the quality of its products and innovative designs.
Although the company’s headquarters were based in Woolrich, Pennsylvania for many years, they have now relocated to Bologna, Italy, following Woolrich’s acquisition by various companies and private equity firms in recent years. Today, the majority of Woolrich stores are located in Europe.
Filson official website
Filson was established in 1897 in the United States and has since become a prominent reference point for manufacturing clothing, accessories, and footwear for both men and women. The company even offers a section for dog outerwear.
It was initially known as “CC Filson’s Pioneer Alaska Clothing and Blanket Manufacturers” and was founded by C.C. Filson. Today, it is well known in many countries worldwide for the great quality and comfort of its products.
Filson winter coats protect from extreme cold and bad weather while also catering to various customer tastes with a range of different styles. Many products are waterproof and highly durable, ensuring they last for years. The fabrics used are carefully selected, and each garment offers a high level of versatility thanks to numerous pockets that can be useful during walks.
The company also places significant emphasis on environmental responsibility, with much of its apparel being sustainable and made of recycled materials.
Read also: 9 Outdoor Brands like Filson: Our Top Picks
Orvis official website
Orvis is a popular and reputable fishing and outdoor clothing and accessory brand, known for being the oldest mail-order company in the US. While their outdoor wear is most recognized for their line of fly-fishing clothing, much of their apparel is suitable for any outdoor adventure.
The company started as a small business founded in 1856 in Manchester, Vermont, before becoming the fashionable clothing company it is today. The Orvis name prides itself on customer care, professional service, and providing quality fishing clothes inspired by nature.
Orvis offers a range of women’s and men’s outdoor clothing and accessories, and also quality pet accessories. Due to being known as dog lovers, Orvis provides education and information about our furry friends.
Since its beginnings, the Orvis company has worked hard to offer customers quality clothes at affordable prices and only create products they could be proud of.
4. L.L. Bean
L.L. Bean official website
L.L. Bean offers accessible clothing for men, women, and children, as well as an excellent selection of bags, totes, and luggage. Although all of these products are of high quality, it is their first product that still sells well today. This product is their robust, comfortable, and weather-resistant boots.
In 1912, Leon Leonwood Bean introduced the Bean Boot in Freeport, Maine. After several attempts, Bean was able to connect a leather upper to a rubber bottom, revolutionizing the world of boots.
L.L. Bean boots were initially worn by sportsmen nationwide and later, in 1921, by men on arctic expeditions, who reported that the hiking boots were practical, particularly in the fall and spring months.
Despite challenging times, the brand’s popularity continued to rise, and over time, more hiking shoes, footwear, garments, luggage, and many other accessories were added to the various collections.
To this day, the L.L. Bean brand is thriving and worn by numerous outdoor enthusiasts in many countries.
You’ll also like: L.L. Bean vs Eddie Bauer: Which Brand is Better?
Birkenstock official website
Birkenstock is a German company founded in 1774 by Johann Adam Birkenstock and based in Neustadt. It’s one of the oldest footwear manufacturers in the world.
The brand is renowned in the footwear industry for producing sandals with unique cork insoles that easily adapt to the shape of the foot. Their products are recognized for their exceptional comfort, as well as the high quality of the materials used, which provide footwear with considerable structural strength.
The brand’s collection, designed for men, women, and kids, includes sandals, sneakers, leather boots, Chelsea boots, etc. Prices range from around $80 for the simplest sandals to over $200 for leather boots.
Hiker wearing Meindl shoes
Meindl is another German brand famous for being one of the oldest artisan footwear manufacturers. Its roots date back to 1683 thanks to Petrus Meindl. The company as we know it today was established in 1928.
The brand’s approach is based on craftsmanship, which still adheres to its tradition for various stages of shoe production, even though modern tools may aid the manufacturing process. Meindl prides itself when it comes to attention to detail.
This brand’s hiking and mountain boots not only can be worn for extended periods of walking but also can be used for their stability thanks to the outsoles, which offer a good grip on different types of terrain.
A pair of Blundstone boots
Blundstone is an Australian brand based in Hobart, Tasmania, renowned for producing boots, and famous particularly for its Chelsea boots. The company focuses on classic models, but it also often introduces unique designs that amaze its customers.
Blundstone products stand out for their quality materials, fine details, comfort, and practicality. The brand’s history dates back to 1870 when John Blundstone founded it in Tasmania with the main purpose of creating shoes that could effortlessly travel through rough terrain.
Today, Blundstone has several categories of boots, including those suitable for workers, everyday wear, and more elegant occasions. All products are equipped with high safety standards, and many of those for workers can withstand extreme temperatures, protecting from cold or heat.
All models are quite flexible and practical, making them suitable for extended periods of wear, even during outdoor activities.
8. Helly Hansen
Helly Hansen official website
Helly Hansen, like all the other brands of this selection, has a long history that began in Norway in 1877. It was initially founded as a business for sailing gear and clothing founded by Captain Helly Juell Hansen and his wife.
Today, the brand offers equipment, clothing, and accessories for various outdoor activities, including skiing, sailing, hiking, mountaineering, and many others. It relies on sturdy materials to produce long-lasting products with minimal environmental impact.
Some of their designs are famous for utilizing the LIFA technology, which works as a base layer that moves moisture out and retains warmth and comfort.
The brand is also renowned for its H2Flow technology that regulates your body temperature by using warm air pockets for warmth and zippers to cool you down. Another fabric technology developed by Helly Hansen is Helly Tech which provides breathability and waterproofness at the same time.
The winter jackets and parkas are some of the brand’s products that I love, as they have excellent insulation and great design.
Mammut official website
As I mentioned in the introduction, Mammut is a Swiss brand with a history spanning over 150 years. It started as a rope manufacturer in 1862, thanks to Kaspar Tanner. Today, it has expanded into a worldwide outdoor brand selling footwear, clothing, and equipment for climbing and hiking.
In addition to technical gear, Mammut also offers casual products suitable for urban wear. While the products are relatively costly, they feature the latest technologies and have excellent designs while offering great performance.