Wednesday, October 20, 2010

American Made. American Tested. American Approved.

So, Tuesday night I am watching Modern Marvels on the History Channel. The focus of this particular episode was on the world's sharpest swords, knives, razors, etc. I was particularly fascinated by the Cutco cutlery (which I have in my own kitchen drawer) and the process they use to test the sharpness and longevity of their products. It was a marvel.

Once upon a time in America, this was a big deal – to test your products and prove their invincibility. Cutco deserves kudos for maintaining its commitment to sharpness for more than a half-century. Today, most companies and consumers are merely concerned about whether or not products are tested on animals, which is all fine and good, but what about the product's efficacy and viability and durability?

Then I came across this story about Woolrich – another great American company that's been around for a very long time (180 years to be precise). They are iconic to outdoorspeople, especially those of us in the northern states who enjoy hiking and fishing in the dead of winter. You don't want your Woolrich, you need your Woolrich. But after nearly two centuries, you would think it was no longer necessary to test and prove themselves.

Apparently it is.

Woolrich, who first supported polar exploration in 1939 when it outfitted Admiral Byrd's third Antarctic expedition, which included extensive study of geology, biology, meteorology and exploration of the southern polar region, is once again venturing into the cold.

On October 2nd, Dale Andersen Ph.D., of the Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe, departed for a three-month expedition to dive in remote lakes below twenty feet of ice to better understand how microbial life is able to exist in extreme environments on Earth. Along with his cameras and scientific gear, Andersen will be wearing and testing various Woolrich garments.

According to its news release, "Woolrich is providing Andersen with mid-layers, socks, headwear, and outerwear to use and provide feedback during this and future trips."

For the record, the annual average temperature in the interior of Antarctica is -50°C (-58°F). If Woolrich is good enough for Dr. Anderson below 20-feet of ice in this temperature, I am pretty confident it will hold up to the conditions on the Rocky River in the Cleveland Metroparks.

My congratulations to both of these American manufacturers for continuing to represent the best of what made this country great.

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