Let’s assume, just for a moment, that most big-name backpack makers are planted in urban office buildings and dreary industrial parks. If that’s true (and it probably is), then Rivendell Mountain Works is the metaphorical opposite: a tiny log cottage plopped high in the misty mountains of Washington with old sewing machines clanking and folk music echoing from its wooden halls.
Since its founding in 1971, Rivendell Mountain Works’ backpacks and manufacturing methods have remained virtually unchanged. The packs are hand-sewn by a small community of seamsters in their own homes; some operate in Rivendell’s “off-the-grid” main production workshop in Monroe, Washington. The materials used are strictly local: high-strength Cordura nylon, leather pulls, nickel-plated steel buckles and more. If Rivendell really wanted to, they could go big like the rest of ’em — but that is not, never has been, and probably never will be Rivendell’s modus operandi. For this all-American outdoors fixture, it’s about crafting a product that lasts, and supporting the local community by doing so.