FAQ About Our New PPE Manufacturing

You may have seen our latest news: Outdoor Research is converting our onshore manufacturing facility in Seattle to produce PPE for the medical community in response to the COVID-19 crisis. This will enable us to produce upwards of 200,000 masks per day by summer.

Here, we’ve gathered some of our most frequently asked questions around this announcement to help you understand how this works, what it’s for, and how great of an impact this will make to the communities who need this most.

What does PPE stand for?
Personal Protective Equipment. This equipment is designed to protect the wearer from injury or infection. In the case of COVID-19, a highly contagious virus that spreads by physical contact and through the air, one of the most important ways to protect against infection is by using FDA-approved PPE.

What types of masks are you making?
Fabric Face Masks - American Standard for Testing and Materials  (ASTM) Level 1 face masks (without flame resistance). These masks provide basic bacterial filtration and sub-micron particulate protection.

Surgical Masks - American Standard for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Level 3

N95 Respirator Masks:

N95 Folded Respirators

N95 Molded Cup Respirators

What does N95 mean?
The N95 designation means that when subjected to careful testing, the respirator blocks at least 95% of very small (0.3 micron) test particles.

What machinery does it take to make the masks?
Along with validation test equipment, we have purchased four high speed automated machines that can be used in the production of N95 respirator masks. 

Will you be making other types of PPE, besides these three masks?
We are evaluating the evolution of our PPE manufacturing program, but for now the three masks detailed above are the most in-demand for the medical community, and therefore our biggest priority. 

Where are the masks going, and how are you distributing them?
We are currently working on a distribution plan with the state of Washington, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). 

Can I, as an individual, buy an OR mask?
Right now we are allocating all masks to the people who need them most: medical professionals. Our distribution plan was designed to have the most effective and immediate impact on that community. Rest assured we are thinking of citizens, although we do not have the capacity to provide you individually with masks at this time.

How can my hospital get your masks?
We are working with local, state, and federal agencies on our distribution plan. The best way to find masks for your hospital is by contacting one of those agencies: FEMA, DOD, or HHS.

What are the next steps OR is working on right now to accomplish the goal of 200,000 masks per day?
The machines used in manufacturing these products are en route to our Seattle factory.  Once they are delivered they will be installed, commissioned and following our Food and Drug Administration (FDA) certification, production will begin. We will keep our customers updated on the timeline and process as we move forward.

How the heck can OR make 200,000 masks per day?
We know - it’s a big number! Part of our ability to produce so much is due to the specialized machines that we’ve invested in, which are built for this type of manufacturing. However, the lion’s share of the credit goes to our highly skilled factory employees. Combining years of experience with delicate, precise manufacturing work, the OR employees responsible for making these masks are the reason we are able to pledge such great results.

Where are we sourcing materials?
Our mask materials are sourced in the USA, for quicker delivery and to support our local economies. 

Where is the PPE being made?
We are producing these masks in our Seattle factory, where we’ve been manufacturing highly technical outdoor gear for 39 years. This building also houses our global headquarters, including our product development and innovation teams who rely on the adeptness and skill of our factory employees to design, test, and perfect some of our most popular gear.

We needed masks yesterday, why will it take until June for you to ramp up to full production?
Creating a factory from the ground up is a lengthy, laborious process. The floor that we’re converting was previously used as a warehouse, and we’re working every day to ramp this up into becoming a fully functioning factory. In addition to that, we’re navigating a new supply chain for our source materials that we’ve never dealt with before. In this case, 30-45 days to production is an incredibly fast timeline.

Will there be OR-branded masks?
Our first order of business is to begin manufacturing masks as quickly as possible. The future of OR-branded masks is unknown, but not out of the question. 

How can my manufacturing-capable business help this effort?
We are grateful for everyone who has offered to help with these extraordinary efforts. Truly, nobody should go unthanked for their contributions. To see how your business can help, we recommend checking with your local officials and State Governor's office.

What is OR doing to protect factory workers making the masks?
We have a lengthy and thorough set of Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) in place to best protect our employees. These procedures were developed and refined over the course of several weeks with local, state and federal input. The procedures take into consideration the arrival and departure of employees from our building site and multiple by-the-minute and by-the-hour procedures while on-site. Rest assured, the health and safety of our employees is our highest priority.

How can I support OR’s factory staff? How can we thank you?
We have received a tremendous amount of interest and support since our announcement. At this time we are adhering to a set of Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) to better protect our coworkers involved in the project, and we ask that you support our staff simply by adhering to current state and federal guidelines, specific to your community.

NOTE: Photos do not reflect current factory conditions.