Archive for the ‘Recreation Equipment & Apparel’ Category

Since 1966, Fleetwood Folding Trailers has been making Coleman brand campers for outdoorsman…little did you know that the company is based right here in Pennsylvania.  The company employees 300

Pennsylvanians in Somerset, PA…a town of 6,500 in the shadow of Pittsburgh. 

These campers are great if you like the comfort of a camper, but don’t wish to spend a small fortune or have the storage space for a full RV.  In a moments notice, you can have your gear stowed in the back of your car, your camper hitched to your car, and your map on your dashboard.  Great for the friday night excursions that we take far too few of each summer.



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emotion kayakThere aren’t may outdoor companies in Pennsylvania that make their own products – but, Wyomissing (Reading area) based Emotion Kayaks (EK) has had great success doing just that.

Entrepreneurs Tom and Diane Strauss launched Emotion Kayaks in 2002 after 20 years as the owner of several ski shops. I don’t know if they were disenchanted with the retail industry or if they just wanted to move up the value chain, but their 20 years of experience has served them well. Several years ago, Canoe & Kayak magazine identified Emotion Kayaks the fastest growing kayak company in the U.S. After selling 1,200 kayaks in the first year, EK now sells over 30,000 kayaks.  They are distributed through several hundred dealers in North America…Not bad for a company that’s less than 10 years old!

Tom, the president of EK, credits at least some of their success to the fact that the Strauss family loves kayaking and might be considered experts in the craft by some. They spend family vacations paddling up and down the east coast and in canoe and kayak Mecca’s like Minnesota, Michigan and Florida.

Designer, Jim Snyder, is also an important ingredient to the success of EK. Snyder has been dubbed one of the 5 “most inspirational” paddlers alive. That’s a pretty sizable accolade considering there are 20+ million paddlers in the United States alone.  His technical prowess has allowed EK to develop some of the most reputable recreational and fishing kayaks in the industry. EK has won “Recreational Kayak of the year” in Outside, Paddler and Canoe & Kayak magazine in 2007, 2008, and 2009. If you do the quick math – you realize that it took EK only 5 years to rocket to the top echelon in the kayak industry.  Such success can only be attribute to a special combination of a dedication to quality, absolute determination and a lot of passion.

Emotion Kayak is based 100% out of Pennsylvania – but it outsources its manufacturing to rotomolding and blowmolding companies around the United States. That’s right – EK products are Made in the USA, but more importantly – the company is helping to build a dynamic economy in Pennsylvania.

The EK website lists 25 retail outlets for their kayaks in Pennsylvania – offering easy access to anyone across the state interested in a kayak.

Kayaking is attracts a lot of recreationalists who are interested in having the flexibility of being able to navigate oceans, rivers, streams and lakes and would like the option of “going it alone” or with a partner. Kayaking is also popular with fisherman, offering unparalleled ability for sportsman to access unbelievable fishing, while preserving the serenity that draws people to the sport.

Check out EK’s website to learn more about kayaking and browse the company’s products…

Company Website

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I always appreciate the companies that went into business because “they new they could build a better mouse trap.”  Companies that were started at a kitchen table, in a garage, in a coffeeshop, or a bar.  Such tales are what I think represent the true American spirit of hard work and innovation with a heavy dose of self-confidence.  PDY Systems, the manufacturer of Lift-n-LOK is one of those companies.  The company is based out of Erie, Pa and they make a single product – the Lift-n-LOK tackle box – designed for just about anything that requires toting of small pieces and parts.   This could range from the fisherman, to the carpenter, to the home do-it-yourselfer who likes to keep his or her tools organized.liftnlok

The company was started by 3 partners who truly believed that they could build a better tackle box.  They sourced the manufacturing locally and soon, they brought a innovation tackle system to market.  The Lift-n-LOK is unique in that it automatically locks the drawers tightly together when you lift the tackle box.  The system is so good that nothing will intermix between compartments if you would happen to drop the box or it would be jostled in the back of your pick-up truck.  Imagine – no screws or nails jammed between drawers.  No lead fishing weights bopping around in the lure bin.

Lift-n-LOK can be purchased online for roughly $60. 

Company Website

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Scranton, Pa based Xootr has been designing and manufacturing really nice, foldable scooters (and bikes) since 1999.  The scooter is made out of machined parts – lending itself to a extremely sturdy design meant for adults and children alike.  The Xootr was designed for “urban transport”, which is why it weighs less than 10 lbs, can carry a grown man and can be folded and stored underneath a cubicle, under a coffee shop table or next to you in class.  What a great idea.xootr3

Xootr is a small company, but has received big attention.  Its scooter has been featured in Business Week, Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, Time Magazine, Fast Company, Wired and many more.  My favorite two quotes about the Xootr are from Time Magazine and Popular Science.  Time Magazine says that the “Xootr is the Rolls Royce of scooters.”  Popular Science says that the Xootr is “the world’s most advanced scooter.”  

Unfortunately, the price of a Xootr may be a touch pricey for some, but certainly not out of the realm of many people’s spending habits.  Most of the scooters cost just over $200 and the foldable bikes run $700.  However…if you have the need to zip around town or campus and you don’t want to pull out the car keys – nothing beats the Xootr.  No parking, no locking, no registering, no changing – none of the hassles normally associated with “urban transport”.

Company Website

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Bright Star makes industrial strength flashlights that you will not find in Walmart or even your neighbor’s closet.  At least…not in most of your neighbor’s closests anyway.  Purchasers of Bright Star products expect more out of their flashlights because they are often firefighters, police men and women, miners, or involved in some other serious occupation.  These types of Pennsylvanians rely on their flashlight in situations that we would never dream of encountering.  In fact…I found a police website discussing Bright Star and it’s evident that the quality of their flashlight is a bit of a source of pride.  I suppose if I used a flashlight every day on a night shift – I too would start to become attached to mine as well. 

Bright Star is based out of a 90,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility in Hanover Township, Pennsylvania (Luzerne County).  They werbrightstare established in 1909 as a battery company and introduced a high-impacted, injected molded flashlight in the 1940’s.  The product was aimed at the mining industry which was prominent in Luzerne County.  Their products are distributed by WESCO, but you can find a few for sale on Ebay and other outlets on the internet.

Company Website

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With over 83,000 miles of streams & rivers, a 232 mile section of the Appalachian Trail, at least 6 other trails exceed 100 miles and a $3 billion hunting and fishing industry – Pennsylvania is a ripe ecosystem for outdoor gear & equipment companies.  This is why the equinoxreknown Cabelas opened one of its few East Coast stores in Hamburg, Pa.  

It is also why Williamsport based EQUINOX has grown substantially since opening production in 1986.  Equinox is one of the very few companies manufacturing outdoor equipment in Pennsylvania – despite the healthy outdoor culture that sends millions of hikers, hunters, fishermen (and women) and other recreationists into the nether corners of our great state.

The company has ~30 employees who take care of everything from product design to sewing and marketing.  If you’ve shopped for a lightweight backpack, climbing gear, or even a dufflebag – you’re familiar with Equinox and perhaps, you’ve noticed the “Made in the U.S.A.” proudly stamped on most of its products.  The company sells backpacks, bags, gaiters, outdoor apparel, blankets, pillows, sleeping bags and many other items to suit your outdoor needs.  You can browse their selection at Campmor or check out their recently redesigned, superb website for more information on the great little Pennsylvania company. Company Website.

Please consider them the next time your filling slots under the Christmas tree or out searching for a new edition to your collection.  They would certainly appreciate your business and their items are all fairly priced.

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One of the neatest thing about Pennsylvania is that you’ll find small companies that you could easily miss driving 65 mph in and out of town.  Places that were started on the back of a good idea, small bank account, and a heckuva lot of elbow grease.  One of those companies is Ener-Gel Insoles – manufactured by the Paragon Development Corp in Penn Run, Pa.   They make insoles for hard-working energel3Pennsylvanians – and the “Made in the USA” sticker is still stamped on the packaged product that you’ll find in Walmarts nation wide.  The company was founded in 1992 and employs 10 people – perhaps, the entire population of Penn Run, which sits about a dozen or so miles away from Indiana, Pa and about the same distance north of Johnstown.

Despite their small stature by some company standards, they’re quite large on the Pennsylvania Proud scale.  They outfit the Penn State Football & Basketball teams (amongst others) as well as serve the feet of many Pennsylvania factory workers.  During the aftermath of September 11th – they shipped 1000’s of pairs of insoles to New York to do their part for the volunteers flocking to New York.  They also do the same for military men and women in Iraq – understanding the dedication that our soldiers have for our country.

Whether you’re a marthoner or prefer to be just a bit more comfortable around your home or office – a pair of insoles can make a world of difference.  You can buy a pair online at the Ener-Gel website (see link below) for $12.99 and receive the distinct pleasure of free shipping!


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