Outdoor Research promises 200,000 masks a day by June

Emergency changes to the company's Seattle factory will allow for large-scale production of masks by early summer.
Outdoor Research will convert its manufacturing facility in Seattle to produce masks for medical workers. Courtesy Outdoor Research.

Outdoor Research will convert its manufacturing facility in Seattle to produce masks for medical workers. Courtesy Outdoor Research.

Outdoor Research has pledged to start producing masks for medical workers at a substantial clip—200,000 a day by June, according to an announcement the company made Monday. To do so, the gear and apparel brand will convert its Seattle factory to comply with FDA Class II guidelines, meaning it will be able to produce surgical masks and the much-needed N95 masks, in short supply across the nation, for workers on the front lines of the pandemic.

“Our 39-year history of rapidly developing cutting-edge outdoor, military, and tactical products provides Outdoor Research the ability to quickly shift to supporting the personal protective needs of the medical community,” CEO Dan Nordstrom said in a statement announcing the changes. "We are working with state and local officials to better protect our employees in this environment as we ramp up production in the following days and weeks.”

The exact timeline for ramping up production is still unclear, but the company's announcement has promised 140,000 ASTM level-3 (high-barrier) masks per day by April/May; 50,000 N95 masks per day by May/June; and "thousands" of ASTM level-1 (low-barrier) masks per day by an unspecified date.

From left to right: Jason Duncan; Feng He; Outdoor Research president Michelle Wardian; Yuet Lam Leung; and Brent Zwiers. All are involved with OR's manufacturing operation in Seattle.

From left to right: Jason Duncan; Feng He; Outdoor Research president Michelle Wardian; Yuet Lam Leung; and Brent Zwiers. All are involved with OR's manufacturing operation in Seattle.

To facilitate the drastic change in output, the factory purchased five new machines, one to manufacture surgical masks, two to manufacture molded N95 respirators, and two to manufacture folded N95 respirators, as well as additional equipment to test the N95s. An entire floor of the facility will be converted and used solely for mask production.

"We have made significant resource allocations to this over the last three weeks," said Jason Duncan, head of tactical innovation and CSR for the company. "We felt we needed to lean in on this due to our unique domestic capabilities. We feel that we can offer a unique perspective due to our quick-pivot raw material, design, and engineering teams."

Asked if the company will start making other PPE items in addition to masks, Duncan told SNEWS, "Our goal for now is to produce surgical masks and N95 respirators. We may move toward other PPE in the future, but that depends on needs and the course of this rapidly changing situation." 

To date, no Outdoor Research employee has tested positive for coronavirus. The company states that it has "strict daily standard operating procedures for entering buildings, including adequate employee spacing, sanitizing hands and workstations every hour, employee temperature monitoring, and utilizing face coverings." 


Screen Shot 2020-05-22 at 4.32.57 PM

Masks might be the product of the year for some outdoor brands

One way to trace the progression of the pandemic is to look at the consumer demand for masks. In the beginning, there were devastating shortages and disturbing stories of profiteers and stockpilers. Then came a period of tenuous equilibrium, when the use of homemade face ...read more


Eddie Bauer and Flowfold commit to emergency mask production

As the White House resists calls to mandate the production of masks and other resources to fight the coronavirus, some companies have stepped up voluntarily to help. In the outdoor industry, Eddie Bauer and Flowfold are among the first. "Just a few days ago, we learned that some ...read more

An employee at Mystery Ranch holds up a black face mask

Mystery Ranch leads community mask-sewing effort

It started by word of mouth. An employee at Mystery Ranch, the Montana-based backpack brand, heard from a friend that a local quilting guild had started sewing masks for hospitals, and soon many of Mystery Ranch's own employees were clamoring to do the same.  "Lots of people ...read more

A desert landscape with cacti at sunrise

Industry Buzz: GOA cancelled, Outdoor Research makes masks, a new SIA campaign, American Alpine Club goes virtual

Industry headlines: Intriguing reads from around the web PPE from the co-founder of Granite Gear: Jeff Knight has designed a new tool to help prolong the life of N95 masks. #CurbYourTurns: SIA has launched a new campaign to promote the idea that flattening the curve “has to take ...read more

A purple face mask lying on a purple mail-in ballot envelope.

These outdoor companies are helping people vote safely in November

As the election approaches on November 3rd and state governments scramble to figure out how to keep voters safe from the coronavirus at in-person polling places, a number of large outdoor companies are stepping up to help. Answering a call from Operation Vote Safe, a nationwide ...read more


Outdoor Research earns FDA authorization for its U.S.-made surgical mask

SEATTLE, Wash. (August 12, 2020) – Outdoor Research, LLC. (OR), a leading brand in the tactical and outdoor apparel industries, this week earned U.S. Food and Drug Administration Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for its U.S.-made surgical mask. This authorization is designed to ...read more


Masks are crucial, but we can't forget about making gowns

Medical masks are on everyone's mind these days, and rightly so. To protect healthcare workers on the front lines of the pandemic, they are probably the most vital piece of PPE companies can start producing, as many in the outdoor industry have done, selflessly and valiantly. ...read more

Neptune masked cashier and customer

As retailers open up, results are mostly positive, with some confusion over safety

After months of closures that spelled disaster for some and extreme hardship for many others, retailers both small and large have started reopening across the nation as states lift the stay-at-home mandates that have kept them closed. The results so far, according to multiple ...read more


Poll: Which outdoor brand makes the best face masks?

Face mask production has become a hot topic in the industry this year, as brands across the world scramble to devise the safest, most comfortable products possible for the strange new landscape of daily life during the pandemic. We want to know: Which brand makes your favorite ...read more