Making a Difference

These outdoor industry players are stepping up to provide pandemic relief efforts.

From manufacturing pivots to produce personal protective equipment, to monetary, food, and even underwear donations to frontline workers, many of our favorite outdoor companies have jumped into the battle against COVID-19. Few have taken the effort as seriously as Outdoor Research (, which, way back in March when most of us were stocking up on toilet paper, made the decision to fully convert its onshore manufacturing facility to become an FDA-approved Class II medical mask maker. Now, the producers of our favorite jackets also assemble N95 respirator masks and ASTM level 3 masks, in addition to fabric face masks. Once at full production capacity, OR will churn out upwards of 200,000 masks per day, most of which will be distributed by state and federal authorities, including the U.S. Department of Defense, while theirs will go to first responders like the Seattle Police Department.

BlackStrap ( is another noteworthy example. Known for its snow and sun face coverings, the company altered operations in the first week of April, soon after the CDC approved the use of cloth face coverings for Covid protection. In just a few days, BlackStrap transitioned from making balaclavas and goggle covers for Fall 2020 to mass producing face masks. Today, its production has ramped up enough to allow shipments of more than 10,000 masks per day. 

“As a face mask company in a pandemic, it’s partial obligation [to support the protection effort]” says BlackStrap brand manager Jim Sanco. “We should definitely be the ones doing it right.” That commitment extends both to those in need and to the environment. For every mask bought through its website, BlackStrap donates one to community organizations and individuals in need. And thanks to the brand’s zero-waste initiative, the masks, which are primarily made from scrap material, have prevented more than 90,000 pounds of fabric from entering the landfill.

Cotopaxi facilitates joy. Photo courtesy Cotopaxi.

In addition to raising money for frontline workers in its native state of Utah, the gear gurus at Cotopaxi ( have sought to help the outdoor community combat the isolation of necessary social distancing measures. Cotopaxi’s recent Questival Quaranteam virtual scavenger hunt encouraged online socialization (not to mention good old-fashioned belly laughter) through challenges such as creating a dating site profile for a pet. This effort—which Annie Agle, Cotopaxi’s director of brand and impact, dubs “facilitating joy”—raised close to $20,000 for pandemic relief efforts. 

All three brands are putting action behind intention during the Covid-19 pandemic. “At the end of the day, companies are people,” Agle says. “I think every person should be engaged around this issue if they’re able.”

Cover photo courtesy BlackStrap

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