Manufacturers like Patagonia have been at the forefront of the movement to create sustainable, eco-conscious businesses. Now, many other outdoor gear and apparel brands are following suit. Having just rung in Earth Day, and heading into a summer with an anticipated increase in outdoor-rec users, it’s time to gear up and discover new outdoor fashion and goods without super-sizing your environmental footprint. Here are some suggestions.
Solution-dyed fabrics require less energy, less water and fewer chemicals to produce than typical textiles. As an added bonus, this approach to manufacturing also results in fabrics with more UV resistance—a big advantage in building longer-lasting backcountry tents. Big Agnes is the first to market with a lineup of solution-dyed tents, including the versatile Tiger Wall UL2, a two-person, three-season shelter that tips the scales at under three pounds—perfect for go-light backpackers and paddlers.[$399, bigagnes.com]
Like so many other aspects of our lives, your favorite shades come with a dirty secret: They’re most likely made of plastic. To lessen the footprint of plastic production and reduce the impact of microplastics on the world’s oceans, each pair of Dragon’s Upcycled collection sunglasses are made from the waste of five plastic water bottles. The new Finch LL is a great fit for smaller faces with a classic look.[$129, dragonalliance.com]
Chaco sandals are a long-time favorite of river types for their durability and repairability, with replaceable soles and other repair options. The company claims to have kept over 25,000 pairs of sandals out of landfills in 2019 alone, offering new straps for all its Z series sandals. The lightweight Z/Volv 2 sandal ups the bar with 25 percent recycled content—along with the same comfortable straps and great grip you’ve come to expect.[$90, chacos.com]
Smartwool scores some solid environmental cred with a limited-time program to recycle old socks into new ones. Meanwhile, the brand’s proven Performance Hike socks have been upgraded with recycled nylon and responsibly sourced wool.[$19-23, smartwool.com]
Many sleeping bag manufacturers, including Thermarest, adhere to the Responsible Down Standard to ensure that insulation is sourced humanely. The Vela Double Quilt pairs a unique two-person design with solid eco-standards. This 20-degree-rated bag allows you to cozy up with your partner to save pack weight and more.[$369, thermarest.com]
Jack Wolfskin has turned to the international bluesign certification to validate the sustainability of its textiles. The lightweight, budget-friendly Jwp shell earns its environmental stripes with recycled materials (including its waterproof-breathable membrane) and not using PFCs, a potent greenhouse gas. The jacket is impressively waterproof and breathable enough for moderate-output activities.[$129, us.jackwolfskin.com]
Kodiak’s classic Skogan hiking boots feature classic ’80s style, great support, sticky traction and waterproof fabrics—built entirely with eco-considered materials. The company’s long list of sustainability standards includes responsibly sourced leathers, plant-based materials for the footbeds and recycled plastics for the uppers and laces.[$155, kodiakboots.com]
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