In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses big and small are having to shut their doors or drastically change operations. While hospitals overflowing with critically ill patients are facing shortages of face masks, rubber gloves, and other personal protective equipment, a number of business in the outdoor industry have taken this opportunity to shift production from outdoor gear to instead create desperately needed PPE for medical workers on the front lines.
From transforming factories and shifting production, to donating personal protective equipment acquired through vendors, here is a growing list of companies contributing to the greater good:
Italian outdoor apparel company Salewa has not only secured 20 million medical protective masks and 600,000 medical gowns from its business connections in China, the company has completely transformed its factory in Montebelluna, Italy—at a cost of nearly $1 million—to produce protective medical equipment for healthcare employees throughout the country.
Instead of making GORE-TEX jackets, they’re making washable protective masks and protective coats with those products that they use in their Salewa apparel line.
Another Italian company, La Sportiva quickly followed suit in announcing that it is transforming part of its factory in the Dolomites to create protective masks and gowns.
“We really hope that this will help to secure the hundreds of health workers who operate in our area and who today need all our support,” wrote CEO Lorenzo Delladio on their Instagram account. “’United albeit divided, we will climb this mountain,’ I said to my collaborators at the beginning of the emergency, and it is the message I want to give today also to all those who are at the front lines to fight this battle. La Sportiva is there and supports you.”
In Seattle, Outdoor Research is transforming part of its factory to produce hundreds of thousands of medical masks a day by early summer. The brand purchased five new machines and is repurposing an entire floor of its facility to create American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) Level 3 surgical masks, Level 1 face masks, and N95 cup-style respirator masks. The first round of masks will be ready by May.
Headquartered in Bellevue, Washington, Eddie Bauer, is shifting a portion of its production resources to make and donate 20,000 masks to the Washington State Department of Enterprise Services. From there, the department will divide the donations to the hospitals that need them most.
The Bozeman, Montana-based pack company Mystery Ranch is dedicating its staff and sewing floor to local doctors and nurses by producing 500 masks using the material for its packs, which is both breathable and antimicrobial. They have also donated over 300 yards of elastic and other materials to the Gallatin Quilt Guild, which first coordinated the mask-building initiative in Gallatin Valley.
“It’s been an awesome effort,” says Renee Sippel-Baker, COO and Co-Founder of MYSTERY RANCH, in a recent press release. “With the help of other local manufacturers and the Gallatin Quilt Guild, we have come together as a community to provide support to our medical friends who are on the frontlines fighting the virus every day.”
In Salt Lake City, the custom ski boot company DaleBoot is putting a hold on the production of boots and orthotics to make protective face shields instead. Any facility in need can contact them at PPE@daleboot.com.
While not all brands can pivot to creating masks and other PPE themselves, women’s mountain bike apparel manufacturer Wild Rye has offered to donated 50 masks to rural medical systems (like in their own heavily-affected home of Blaine County, Idaho) for every purchase over $50 on their website. They’ve also set up a GoFundMe to accept donations, which the cofounders will personally match up to $1,000.
Similarly, Arcade Belts, co-founded by Cody Townsend, is using connections from its vendors abroad to get a hold of ready-made masks to donate to Truckee, California-area healthcare professionals. Arcade has been able to donate over 300 masks so far.
“I wanted to share that story because I thought it was a message of hope and positivity amid pretty much very negative, scary, anxiety-inducing news,” says Townsend on his YouTube channel. “But there was an ulterior motive too, to say, ‘Hey we’re a company with no experience in making masks or anything, see what you can do to help too because we need to support the cause of the healthcare workers and support this crisis as best we can.’”
This article originally appeared on Powder.com and was republished with permission.
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