I’m putting this little guide together based off a recent comment I received on the YouTube channel because pictures are just easier here.
How are you able to tell where the ykk zippers are made?
That’s a really good question. I went through some old posts looking for some screenshots I could pull and couldn’t find any good ones directly comparing the made in USA YKK zippers vs made in Taiwan. The YKK zippers have the country of origin engraved in them however the location of the engraving can change depending on the location the zipper is made.
YKK Zippers Made in Taiwan
Here’s the zipper on the outside of a fairly recent GORUCK Bullet purchase. You can see the “T” in the bottom right of the zipper there.
Here’s an angled picture which shows the depth of the “T” there. From everything that I’ve read the “T” stands for Taiwan and that’s where these zippers are manufactured.
Here’s the zipper on the outside of a Red & Black Rucker 3.0. This zipper is also made in Taiwan.
YKK Zippers Made in the USA
I had to dig back quite a few years to find a pack with the zipper made in the USA but I found one! This zipper is on a GORUCK GR1 and clearly shows it’s made in the USA with the “USA” printing on the side. The slightly tricky part here is that you need to know that you have to pull the zipper pull back to read where it’s made.
The majority of the time the zipper pull will cover the USA on the USA made zippers. I should also mention that although this USA made YKK zipper is on a GR1 not all GR1 rucks feature a USA made YKK zipper. I’ve got a handful that also have Taiwan zippers and as far as I’m aware most of the recent GR1s are made with Taiwan YKK zippers.
The most recent GR1s I picked up were the Heritages and they were surprisingly made with USA and Taiwan made YKK zippers depending on the models. The Dark Oak and Field Tan GR1s were made with Taiwan YKK zippers while the Olive were made with USA made YKK zippers.
Here’s the outside zipper showing a “U” which my searching says indicates made in the USA.
Here’s the zipper on the inside explicitly stating that the zipper is made in the USA.
Reason For The Change?
Back in 2013 this whole “where is the zipper made” thing was a fairly-huge scandal in the EDC Forums and similar communities. There were 40+ pages of forum posts (which have since been deleted) around this zipper controversy with posters saying that GORUCK was bait-and-switching with the zippers. I did some digging around and ended up finding this old 2013 post which actually includes a response from GORUCK on the change.
I’d further like to apologize for any miscommunication regarding the construction of our gear. GORUCK gear is 100% built in the USA, and we source components that are also manufactured in the USA as much as possible. At the time the GR1 Explained post was written, we did use YKK zippers available that were made in the USA. However, we found YKK made better zippers abroad and weren’t able to source the USA-made zippers due to volume issues. We went with the higher quality zippers and will continue to make decisions based on quality and source everything that we possibly can here in the States. That commitment and balance is something we share with other companies that manufacture in the USA.GORUCK, 2013
For those wondering about the change there’s GORUCK’s statement as of 2013.
From all of the GORUCK packs I’ve seen if the zipper says “T” then the zipper is made in Taiwan. If the zipper says “U” or “USA” then it’s made in the USA. If you have a zipper that says something else I’d love to hear about it and see a picture.
If you have a pack and are curious where the zipper is made, from what I’ve seen, it’s fairly straight forward to figure out once you know where to look. If you’re buying a pack second hand and are curious where the zippers are made now you know where to request photos from. If you’re buying a pack from GORUCK then unfortunately it’s near impossible to know where the zippers are made until the pack shows up. I hope this helps!