The last couple of months have certainly rattled everyone’s cages and a number of people have come out of this with some strong views against certain countries. I’m not going to get into the geopolitical scene too much, but I think most of us would agree it is much nicer to support local brands where and if we can. Sadly, supporting local is not always easy, often we cannot find what we want locally, or the price might make things prohibitive for the average joe.
Over the last few years, I have used a number of different brands from various different countries, some have worked and some haven’t. I thought I would share some of the brands and gear I have used and found suitable for the type of mountain hunting I do. Some of these brands are local New Zealand brands and some are not. In my mind supporting a brand which is manufactured in a free open democracy, with basic rights for their workers is far ahead of the alternative, regardless if that country is in Europe, North America or the South Pacific.
This is a big one and it’s very hard to avoid the Asian manufacturing process. Most fabrics are produced in Asia regardless of what we choose, but there a few options where the garments are sewn up locally. For me Earth Sea Sky reigns supreme of any local brand I have seen or used, they are a small local company dedicated to producing the best outdoor gear for New Zealand’s unique environment. Swazi was for a long time the leader in NZ, but in recent years they seem to have struggled to keep up with the changes in fabric performance and have recently moved some production off shore. They still offer a good range of waterproofs and fleece, which are popular throughout the rural community.
Hilliberg tents are often seen as the top standard which others are measured against, and they are produced in Estonia to a high standard. They are no doubt very good, but again come with a price which can be hard for many to justify.
There is also a wide range of tipi and tarp shelters made across the USA, there are some great options, but generally all quite expensive. Kiafru, Seek Outside, Zpacks
Closer to home Terra Rosa Gear across the ditch makes a variety of tarps and lightweight shelters.
MIA Gear make some great base camp wall tents with stoves, which are primiary made here in NZ, with some production offshore.
North America probably leads the way in hunting back packs and there are three tops brands which are stand out to me. Kifaru, Exo and Stone Glacier are all US made as far as I am aware and they all produce top quality packs. The main problem here for kiwis is they are the upper limit of costs, especially when you factor in shipping and taxes.
Closer to home Cactus outdoor produces some hardy packs, they are not ‘hunter’ specific but they do a have a few options which suit hunters well.
Across the ditch One Planet has a reputation of making no-nonsense backpacking gear and their packs are very similar to the older Macpacs which have built a great reputation here in NZ.
I am a liquid fuel guy and most of these cookers are either European or made in the US. MSR, Primus and Optimus all are good options in my mind. Although these cookers are pricy, they are an investment and it’s not unusual to see 20+ year old cookers from these brands working flawlessly.
This is an easy one, nearly all major manufacturers for boots are European, so basically you can take you pick there. Asolo has been my go-to for a few years and they are produced either in Romania or Italy.
Again this is an easy one. Leupold have been good to us over the years and have a reputation for reliable affordable scopes. If you want to splash out, the big European brands represent the height of optical performance.
Accessories and odds and ends
There is a whole raft of little bits and bobs we accumulate while hunting and often these are places people cut corners. Twin Needle in Christchurch not only produce a wide range of accessories they are also masters in repairs and modification. Repairing your old reliable is a great way to reduce waste and save money in the long term, and if you have some gear that is not quite perfect they can soon adjust it to suit.
Mtn Gear based out of Nelson have a growing range of rifle and hunting accessories with some unique designs not found anywhere else.
Victory Knives have long been the choice of New Zealand butchers and fisheries, and for good reason. They represent great value for money for the NZ hunter and are a great NZ company.
Hopefully this gives you some ideas of brands to support and feel free to message me if I have missed any obvious ones