The Bronx is not where most people would expect to find a cottage-industry backpacking gear startup. Far from the lofty peaks of the Western United States and quite a drive to the rugged New England trails, New York City, where allmansright gear is made, is a surprising location.
But this urban locale has roots spread across the country, in the great outdoors, as well as outside of the US, where the company’s founder was born.
Allmansright founder Livio Melo was born in the Dominican Republic. He moved to the US as a child, and ended up going to school for Industrial Design at The New School's Parsons School of Design.
Growing up in a developing country in the countryside meant the outdoors were a part of everyday life for Livio.
“If we wanted mangos, we would go to someone’s yard and get mangoes,” he said. The family would pick plantains from their plot, swim in nearby rivers, and without running water, they lived their life around the rainfall collected from their hand-dug well.
Moving to the US was a dramatic change for Livio, who suddenly found himself relying on public transportation, for example. But even as he settled into city life, he dedicated himself to finding and maintaining connections to nature.
He won a scholarship to travel to Patagonia and Antarctica, which reignited his passion for a life lived outside. And then a few years ago, Livio and his friend did an overnight in New York’s Harriman State Park—his first overnight backpacking trip ever. He carried a 45-degree quilt in 19-degree weather, nearly froze, and was completely hooked.
With the spark lit, Livio started combining his love of the outdoors with his education in product creation. He built a backpack about a month after that hike, fascinated by the design and intended use of backpacking packs.
For this first pack, he basically took apart a North Face pack, added ripstop from the Fashion District, and rebuilt it with the premade fittings and straps.
That first “Frankenstein” pack eventually launched allmansright gear.
The curious name allmansright comes from the Swedish "right to public access,” or “freedom to roam.” Break the name apart and you have All Man’s Right, a tribute to the rights of everyone to explore and expound upon the greatness of the natural world.
Three years after that fateful overnight trip, allmansright can be defined as an outdoor gear lab and studio. They currently build packs, cross-body bags, and accessories. The goal is to eventually create at least one of each piece of gear most commonly found in a backpacker’s setup.
Livio is proud that his backpacking gear is designed purely with intended use in mind. “It needs to be super functional and thoroughly considered,” he said, “but most importantly, it should be enjoyable.”
Livio uses his allmansright stuff sack as an example. “A simple stuff sack shouldn’t be complex to use,” he explained. “So we designed it to open and close in simple, swift motions without having to fiddle with a tiny cord lock. It has a tapered shape so it's wide enough for big hands, while maintaining a low weight and being easy to open and close while wearing gloves.”
This level of thought is a result of Livio’s natural attention to detail and education in industrial design, playing right into the combination of functionality and ultralight ethos.
Allmansright is BIPOC owned, an important facet to its messaging.
“The more diversity in the outdoors the better,” said Livio. “It will only make the outdoor community stronger.”
All of the gear is made in Livio’s apartment in the Bronx with his partner, Jen. The goal is to eventually grow big enough to move production out of their home and build a small team alongside them.
Allmansright currently builds both custom gear and stock models, and Livio plans to create limited product runs to leave more time for backend design and development.
While the response from the community has been wonderful, sourcing materials is an ever-challenging aspect to being a small company. With limited output, finding high-quality material sources willing to sell at lower quantities can be hard.
Out of all of the products made by allmansright, the Liten 35 pack is Livio’s favorite. “This has been the pack I've always wanted,” said Livio, “and it's only getting better.”
Seeing photos and videos of people carrying this pack is one of the most rewarding parts of building gear for Livio.
In pursuit of facilitating the Right to Roam message, diversity in the outdoors, and fastidious attention to usage, Livio has been working exhausting hours, seven days a week. “I almost always wish the days were longer,” he said, laughing.
While Livio’s passion for gear and creating once led him to believe that products could save the world, he now sees it from a different angle. “I think the connections with nature will save the planet,” he said. “People who interact with nature will want to protect it. I hope my innovative, functional gear can help facilitate those connections.”
Shout out from Brooklyn, NY. I no longer back pack since sustaining a bike crash injury, but I’m trying my hand at making my own bike travel and bike packing gear. I trained in textiles many years ago in Denmark and have made camping gear for a company as well as for myself. We should meet!
As a fellow Bronxite, I’m thrilled to see this. Congrats to Livio and Jen for all of their efforts, and thanks to GGG for highlighting them. We need more of this and I’ll be ordering when the need arises.