Made in the USA: Uncommon Brands
When it comes to purchasing new running gear, the typical criteria include quality, price, style, fit, and performance. However, should it also matter where a particular piece of running gear is made?
Unlike the big corporate brands that strive to squeeze out every cost penny, many of our uncommon brands utilize made in the USA materials and manufacturing while still offering tremendous value to the running consumer. With gear from these brands, you’ll be able to rock your American pride and look amazing while out on a run.
Since 2013, Carson Footwear (Oregon) has made minimally-designed, lightweight (9.5 oz) running shoes in the USA. The shoes are built with a zero-drop, 10 mm, polyurethane midsole/outsole with a light, flexible upper. They finish them off with a 5 mm sockliner for ultimate comfort and added protection. The proprioception gained from this type of shoe allows for better underfoot feel to minimize heel strike and promote a stronger and more efficient long-term running stride.
Carson believes running in minimal, barefoot-styled shoes makes your feet stronger while buying from USA-made organizations makes our country stronger.
"I [Everett Carson] started Carson footwear because I wanted a neutral running shoe that I actually enjoyed running in. In my hunt for the perfect running shoe, what I saw was an industry that had been abandoned by the American entrepreneur. It seemed everybody was trying to build a more profitable shoe. I wanted to build a superior shoe using the best materials and artisans our great country already had to offer. Each shoe is carefully constructed by hand from start to finish by highly skilled shoemakers who help me deliver an exceptional product that is 100% made in the USA."
Sandals are a way of life at the Shamma Sandals HQ in Santa Cruz, California, but flip-flops just don’t cut it. They are hard enough to walk in, let alone run in. As minimalist running fans in need of footwear that would protect without disconnecting from the ground, the Shamma team just wasn't seeing what was needed and started making sandals and hitting the trails.
They loved it. Running naturally again in minimalist sandals, they started doing everything else in the sandals - going to the grocery store, taking kids to soccer games, doing projects around the house, hanging out at BBQs. From casual activities to intense ones, everything felt better and more natural.
Soon friends and family - whether adventurous or relaxed - were benefiting from sandals, but it was a small thing, almost a secret. As more people started to ask about getting a pair, they started making more and more. They improved them, took everyone’s feedback, and improved them some more. Since then they have continued to constantly test designs, getting input from military trainers, foot doctors, running coaches, and barefoot running customers alike.
The Shamma team is dedicated to improving running sandals forever. They don’t over-engineer products, instead making careful decisions about designs, materials, and all-USA suppliers and production. The sandals are zero drop from heel to toe, with secure and easy to use lacing systems. They move with your stride, without slipping or tripping you up.
They want to provide the best fit and performance available for the most natural barefoot running feel. They don’t make flip-flops. They make sandals. Their goal is to make the best minimalist sandals available, to give you an unparalleled experience in your moments of adventure and leisure.
Arkansas-based Kippo running and fitness shorts were born in the weight room when Mark's phone fell out of his pocket during bench press and ripped out his earbuds. After that, while doing dead lift, the bar banged against Mark’s iPhone. He was worried about cracking the screen, so he tucked the phone inside his underwear waistband, on his hip. That location kept his smartphone secure and away from danger, but the device was getting sweaty and not easy to access.
That experience led to a simple idea, to create running shorts with a secure hip pocket that allows easy access to your smartphone. This upgrade would keep your phone from flopping around and falling out during runs and it could solve a variety of issues for those who train at the gym.
Mark took an old pair of shorts to a tailor and together they made the first Kippo smart slot holder. It worked. His phone was secure and, instead of reaching inside the pocket to grab his phone, Mark discovered he could use his fingers to push the smartphone out of the pocket, which gave him quick, easy access.
Several guys at the gym started asking if they could buy a pair of the shorts and Mark knew it was time to move forward with the idea. After developing an improved prototype, Mark launched Kippo. Since then, Kippo has grown into a leader provide of running apparel made for smartphones, and continues its innovation path with many new products introduced and on the horizon. All products are made in the USA...Chicago to be specific.
Vapor Fresh was developed for one reason-- to help runners and athletes avoid exposure to harmful chemicals found in everyday cleaning products so they can live healthier and run better.
Stephen Steinberg founded the Florida-based company in 2008 while playing for the University of Maryland hockey team. He needed something to keep his pads from stinking up his dorm room, but couldn't find any products to eliminate the odor without the use of irritating chemicals. So he decided to develop a better product himself.
After much research and testing, Stephen created a formula that performed better than other products while using safe, natural ingredients. Realizing what he had just made, he sent samples to local equipment managers of college athletics programs. When they came back with positive feedback and purchase orders, Raw Athletics was officially born and Vapor Fresh Sports Cleaning Spray became the first of many Vapor Fresh running and fitness cleaning products.
Today, Vapor Fresh has combined green-cleaning principles with highly effective chemistry to create an entire line of running cleaning products for the sports and fitness industry. All products are made in the USA.
The Lily Trotter...an African bird with absurdly long legs and huge clawed feet. Their extraordinary feet and legs allow them to hop over lily pads and walk on floating vegetation. The female Lily Trotter is the ultimate power chick, venturing into the forest and choosing her mate. After partnering, the male stays home to incubate and raise the young.
A lifelong lover of art and design, Lily's founder Susan was a designer and creative director before starting Lily Trotters in 2013. Her goal was simple, and it remains true today: Produce truly beautiful, high-quality performance compression running socks that bring the benefits of compression to women in every aspect of their running, fitness, and everyday lives.
From the most conservative running sock to the most colorful and boldly patterned stripes, there’s a performance compression sock to suit your personal running style. Comfortable enough to wear throughout your day, and durable enough for the serious runner. Lily Trotters is based in Maryland, and all products are made in the USA.
Like many health conscious athletes, Muir Energy founder Ian McNally struggled to find the right all natural running nutrition to keep him going while pushing his body to its limits. His jaws tired of chewing raw nuts and dehydrated fruit. Most food bars are dry, heavy and not very healthy. And most gels are filled with synthetics. He also wanted something he could eat straight, add to his oatmeal or soup, or spread on a cracker. With no products on the market that fit this criteria, he decided to make it himself.
The result...clean, pure, nutritionally dense, portable food with 4-6 clean ingredients and no junk. Rich in vitamins, minerals and healthy fats and protein. Versatile - eat it straight, spread it, cook or bake with it.
All products are handmade in small batches in San Diego, California.
The Minnesota-based Stunt Puppy team started with a single jacket made from scraps for Jack, a thermally fragile Ridgeback, and then fashioned the perfect retractable bungee leash for Bauer to make hospital therapy rounds. Years later they still design for the Jacks and Bauers who are making the world a better place, one unconditional wag at a time.
That design starts with the same quality standards that you would expect for yourself - running grade fabrics. This means gear that's lighter, softer, more breathable, and performs better across a range of running conditions. They use runner-grade fabrics and components because to them, it's never JUST a dog.
And good on paper isn't good enough. They lab test every design to ensure it can endure your pets outdoor running and adventures.
Most Stunt Puppy products are made in Minnesota. However, you will find some products made in New Zealand after their recent joint venture with a NZ-based company with a similar pet running mission.
Thank you for reading. Keep doing amazing things. And however you run, Run Uncommon.
The Uncommon Runner