Everybody knows about the major camping brands like Coleman, REI, NorthFace, and Columbia.

While those companies are huge corporations that have big marketing budgets and they make a wide range of products, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are the best camping products out there.  In fact, there are a ton of small companies that specialize in camping gear which make some pretty awesome stuff.

In this post, I thought I’d highlight some of the top small outdoor gear companies.


Kelty is a manufacturer of high-end backpacks, tents, and sleeping bags owned by American Recreation Products. The business is based in Boulder, Colorado.

Their site: Kelty.com

My favorite product: Kelty Salida 2 (a top rated two person tent)


Eureka! creates tents, canopies, sleeping bags and related accessories for life outdoors. Our tents and gear are equally at home camping in your favorite campground, at a backyard sleepover, on winter camping expeditions, biking or hiking in the wilderness.

Their site: Eurekatent.com

My favorite product:  Eureka Midori 2 Tent

Sierra Designs

Since 1965, Sierra Designs has been creating high performance camping, high alpine and backcountry gear from ultralight tents & sleeping bags to down jackets. Interestingly, Sierra Designs was founded by the son of the founder of Kelty.

Their site: sierradesigns.com

My favorite product: Sierra Designs Zolo 3 Tent


Since 1974 Marmot has been committed to designing high quality technical apparel, sleeping bags, tents and backpacks for outdoor enthusiasts worldwide.

Their site: Marmot.com

My favorite product: Marmot Limelight 3 Persons Tent


Mountain Safety Research, or MSR, is an American corporation founded in 1969 by Larry Penberthy, located in Seattle, Washington and owned by Cascade Designs. MSR is a producer of camping, hiking and mountaineering equipment, such as portable stoves, water filters, snowshoes, snow tools, and tents. While specializing in lightweight and technical equipment, MSR’s gear is designed for a wide range of outdoor enthusiasts from novice to expert mountaineers.

Their site: Cascadedesigns.com/MSR

My favorite product: All their cooking gear (ad)

Mountain Hardwear

Mountain Hardwear, founded in 1993, is a California -based company that manufactures high-end outdoor clothing, backpacks, sleeping bags, tents, and gloves. Columbia Sportswear purchased Mountain Hardwear in 2003. The company is headquartered in Richmond, California.

Their site: Mountainhardwear.com

My favorite product: Mountain Hardwear Lamina 0 Degree Sleeping Bag


Mountainsmith’s commitment to innovation began in 1979 and continues to the present with a full line of active lifestyle products. The quality and comfort of all Mountainsmith products—technical backpacks, travel storage systems, luggage, camera bags, as well as the lumbar pack icons—set the standard for the worldwide outdoor marketplace. Mountainsmith manufactures, markets, and distributes an expanding group of products designed to meet the demands of travel on and off the trail, through airports, and anywhere that carrying-comfort is essential. Mountainsmith products are sold worldwide.

Their site: Mountainsmith.com

My favorite product: Mountainsmith Apex 80 Backpack (ad)

Red Wing

Red Wing Shoes is an American footwear company based in Red Wing, Minnesota that was founded by Charles H. Beckman in 1905. Within 10 years of its inception, Red Wing Shoes was producing more than 200,000 pairs of boots per year and was the primary company manufacturing footwear for American soldiers fighting in World War I. Red Wing Shoes continued its tradition of producing footwear for wartime use by manufacturing boots for American soldiers during World War II.

Their site: Redwingshoes.com

My favorite product: Red Wing Heritage Classic Round Boots


CamelBak Products, LLC is an outdoors equipment company based in Petaluma, California, best known for its hydration products, such as hydration packs and water bottles. CamelBak is also a supplier of hydration packs, protective gear, and other products to the U.S. military and law enforcement agencies around the world.

Their site: Camelbak.com

My favorite product: Camelbak HydroPak (ad)


Osprey, Inc. is a Colorado-based company that makes backpacks and travel gear. Mike Pfotenhauer and Diane Wren founded the company in 1974. Osprey was one of the first to introduce breathable mesh in their backpack line in 1976. In 2005, Osprey invented a new type of backpack hip belt molding that conforms to the shape of the backpack occupant’s body. The world’s first blind mountain climber to summit Mount Everest, Erik Weihenmayer, used an Osprey backpack, the Aether 60, and is pictured with it on the cover of Time Magazine’s June 18th, 2001 issue.

Their site: Ospreypacks.com

My favorite product: Osprey Atmos 65

Big Agnes

Big Agnes manufactures the most comfortable tents, sleeping bags and sleeping pads for backpacking, camping and outdoor adventure.

Their site: Bigagnes.com

My favorite product: Big Agnes Blacktail LE Tent