Why Buy Western Mountaineering?
Because it's Made in the USA
By Jordan Gardner, A16 National Park Road Team Member and A16 San Diego Store Assistant Manager
Traveling around the country has allowed the A16 National Park Road Team to visit a lot of local attractions and also some of our key vendors. In San Jose we had the opportunity to visit the Western Mountaineering factory. We were able to see firsthand the care and attention they give each bag to create high quality down sleeping bags that are still made right here in the USA.
Adventure 16 is a company that prides itself on representing the highest quality gear and customer satisfaction. And because of this, customers often ask why are some coats and gear so much more expensive than similar items located down the street at their local sporting goods store. I think that definition of the store there in itself helps explain why Adventure 16 chooses to carry certain products over other similar items.
One of the major areas that Adventure 16 likes to pride itself in, is being one of the few stores to carry this awesome company called Western Mountaineering. Located in San Jose, CA on a quiet street in the middle of warehouses was Western Mountaineering. It took us a circle or two around the block to find the signage seeing as they aren’t the largest manufacturer.
Once inside though we were greeted with a kind “Hello!” from Gary Peterson, the production manager. Gary began at Western Mountaineering in 1991 and has seen it all. On the left is Gary and I standing next to the Adventure 16 National Park Road Team vehicle.
The factory in San Jose is one of three stateside that they are currently using. There are 30 to 38 seamstresses working on the floor at any given time and usually a single sleeping bag is only ever touched by two of them.
Below is a walk through of the factory from a bag being cut to the final inspection table. These bags are truly hand made in the U.S.A. using as many U.S. sourced materials as possible.
Yes, they use to have garments made in Canada. but found that even there, quality control became too difficult to control.
Yes many of the Western Mountaineering bags don't look very exotic, or come in a wide selection of colors, but the devil is in the details. The fine details like double-stitching in high-wear areas or creating a new zipper cave to prevent air from entering at the draft collar.
When you start your search for the perfect sleeping bag be sure to go through the details and not just trust its warmth rating. There is a lot more to a sleeping bag than meets the eye. Don't let the simple looking design fool you.