Each season new lines of clothing for outdoor adventure are churned out. Just like the rest of the fashion industry. Each model claims to be more waterproof, lightweight and durable than the last. And new technologies are constantly being developed to make the creation of this super-clothing possible. But within this ever-evolving market of upgrading to the next best thing, is there really space for sustainable and eco-friendly outdoor clothing? We think so.
Many items of outdoor clothing are made using methods that don’t sit well from an environmental point of view. From excessive water use in production, to the use of toxic dyes and chemical treatments. We want odor-resistant, quick-drying, lightweight durability from our outdoor clothing. As a result, many items are made from plastic (polyester and nylon) to meet these demands. Consequently, some such items can take up to 200 years to biodegrade. Not ideal when we upgrade clothing every year or so. And that’s just the start.
Eco-friendly outdoor clothing options
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To help you make some better informed decisions about your next clothing upgrades, we’ve put together a list of eco-friendly outdoor clothing that we think you’ll love.
Socks: Teko Medium Cushion Merino Hiking Socks
Even the most dedicated make-do-and-mend activists have to give up on socks at some point. Socks are one of those items that you actually do need to buy more regularly than you might like. So opting for Teko socks is a superb way to support the eco-friendly outdoor clothing movement. These Medium Cushion Hiking Socks are made with sustainable merino wool which makes them naturally odor-resistant. They are blended with recycled polyester which gives them extra durability and stretch. The polyester is made from plastic drinks bottles, and the regenerated polyamide is made from commercial fishing nets. Teko also boast chlorine-free production, non-toxic dyes and minimal recycled packaging. The icing on their eco-friendly cake? The Teko office and factory are powered by renewable energy. Possibly the most green outdoor company out there?
Baselayer: Finisterre Argo Baselayer
With a commitment to eradicating single-use plastic from their supply chain and workspaces by the end of 2018, Finisterre are another outdoor clothing brand that are taking huge eco-friendly steps forward. They have already eliminated fluorocarbons from their gorgeous waterproof range. They also use recycled polyester in their jackets, organic cotton in their t-shirts and non-mulesed wool in their winter warmers. This Argo Baselayer is made of merino wool and combined with Tencel, a fabric made of Lyocell fibers that are derived from sustainable wood sources. The properties of Tencel are similar to the odor-resistant, thermoregulating, properties of merino, complimenting it further with breathability, strength and smoothness. The result? A wonderfully soft, high performing baselayer for all your outdoor adventures. Finisterre are really making things happen. And let’s be honest, they look pretty great doing it!
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Pants: Vaude Tekoa Pants
If you’re looking for hard wearing mountain pants that also happen to be made from 95% recycled polyamide, the Vaude Tekoa Pants are for you. With stretch fabric, pockets aplenty and articulated knees, these superbly well designed pants are just one item in a very long list of products under Vaude’s Green Shape label. Vaude are truly leading the way in the eco-friendly outdoor clothing and gear stakes. They have their own rating system for environmentally friendly outdoor products. The Green Shape criteria covers the whole lifecycle of each product, from design and production, right through to repair and disposal. Products must meet strict standards that include the use of environmentally approved fabrics, zips and buttons.
Our second pick from the eco-conscious outdoor brand, Houdini Sportswear, is the Mono Air Houdi. This slim-fitting eco-friendly jacket is a comfortable mid-layer for winter excursions and warm enough to wear on its own in the warmer seasons.
Like the Lana Jacket, the Mono Air is made from a single material which makes it easily recyclable. The fabric is Polar Air Light from Polar Tech. It’s produced in the US from Bluesign Certified and recycled materials. This high-tech insulating fabric allows a full range of movement, whether you’re trekking, climbing, or snowboarding. Additionally, the Polar Air Light Fabric sheds 80% less microfibres than regular fleeces. A huge plus for reducing microplastics in our water systems.
Other features we like include the close-fitting hood with drawcord, adjustable hem, and 2-way front zipper. Plus, at just 288g, it is light enough to stuff into your trekking backpack.
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Fleece: Eider Mission Hoodie
Eider are working as hard as ever to push their environmental policies forward. And with an ever-growing number of products identified as Low Impact (currently 55% of their stock), they are well on their way to having 90% of their stock with this status by 2020. Low Impact products contain a minimum of 40% recycled, organic, biodegradable and bio-based materials, like the Eider Mission Hoodie. This lightweight, high-performing fleece owes its exceptional warmth and low weight to the Polartec Thermal Pro fabric that is considered to be the most durable of fleeces. Add to that the fact that it is made out of recycled plastic bottles, and once snuggled up in this casual, mega-comfortable zip up hoodie, you’ll feel as warm on the inside as you will on the out.
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Houdini is another eco-conscious company that specialises in sustainable outdoor clothing. The company released its first products made from recycled materials in 2007. As of 2020, the majority of fabrics used in Houdini’s clothing’s are recyclable, recycled, renewable, biodegradable, or Bluesign certified. To combat mass consumption, Houdini aims to produce outdoor gear that’s fit for purpose, long-lasting, and easily repairable.
The Houdini Lana Jacket fits these criteria to a tee. It’s woven from 100% Merino wool which is naturally breathable, wind-resistant, and water-resistant. But it’s also a naturally biodegradable, renewable and recyclable material. In terms of design, the jacket moves as you do, without restricting movement and without the usual rustling that you get from synthetic materials. It’s designed to be used as an outer shell all year round, for anything from hiking to skiing. A 365 day returns policy lets you test the Lana Jacket in all four seasons. Other practical features include a two-way front zipper, zippered outer pockets, and inner chest pockets. For a tailored fit, the jacket also features adjustable bungees on the hood and bottom hem, as well as Velcro cuffs.
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Waterproof jacket: Columbia Outdry Ex Eco Jacket
If you’re after the ultimate eco-friendly jacket then look no further than the Columbia Outdry Ex Eco Jacket. 100% recycled, means 100% recycled! Everything is made of recycled material, from the main fabric of the jacket to the thread that holds it together. Additionally, every toggle, eyelet, label and zipper contains 100% recycled content. But their constant strife to reduce the environmental impacts associated with their products mean that Columbia don’t stop there. This jacket also features a PFC free breathable and waterproof membrane, and it is dye-free. Everything else about the jacket is fairly standard for a waterproof shell, other than how it makes you feel inside: opting for this jacket saves 13 gallons of water and recycles 21 plastic bottles. Fuzzy!
Waterproof pants: Patagonia Torrentshell Pants
Eco-friendly and sustainable outdoor clothing and gear is what Patagonia do best. They have led and continue to lead the way in the outdoor industry, creating a high bar for other outdoor brands to step up to. The Torrentshell Pants are a staple item amongst the vast range of Patagonia clothing made from recycled materials. They are affordable, high performing and yes, made of 100% recycled nylon. Ripstop nylon, to be precise: durable and robust. Additionally, the pants feature Patagonia’s H2No shell membrane to maintain breathability and waterproofness, as well as a DWR coating.
Hiking shoes: Aku Bellamont Plus
The Aku Bellamont Plus is a highly sought after hiking shoe for eco-conscious adventurers. It is the first shoe to be awarded an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) certification. This means that every step of its production process is carefully measured and assessed. Everything from the production of the raw materials, to the impact of the shoes at the end of their life. So you can rest assured that these superbly high quality shoes have been through the ringer. The shoes contain leather that has undergone chrome-free tanning. They have a midsole and outsole that contains recycled material from rubber processing. Furthermore, 99% of the materials used to manufacture the shoes come from Europe — where the shoes are made. And at only 470g you’ll literally be reducing your carbon footprint in these lightweight hiking shoes.
Cap: Econscious Recycled Trucker Hat
Like socks, caps come and go with the seasons. They’re easily lost, damaged or worn out. As a result, it’s just too easy to grab a cheap, polyester cap, usually with some novelty design on the front. Fun, yes! Eco-friendly? Not so much. Thankfully, Econscious have created a trucker hat that is not only made from recycled polyester, but is also affordable. Plus, it’s great looking and available in four stylish colours. Econscious also create organic cotton t-shirts and sweatshirts blended with recycled polyester for wholesale distribution. This means that they are set up and ready to spread the eco-love in collaboration with your brand. COTW branded caps on the horizon?!
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Mountain Equipment have been working tirelessly for many years to create more sustainable practices and eco-friendly products. In fact, it’s 10 years since the brand committed to putting in as much time and effort addressing environmental, ethical and welfare concerns within its supply chains as they did to acquiring the very best materials and making the best products.
Now, in 2021, Mountain Equipment has launched Down Cycle. The Earthrise Hooded Jacket is one such model from this line and is made from 100% recycled fabrics. Yep, both the 700 fill power down insulation and the shell lining are recycled, resulting in around 70% less water being used to recycle the down, compared with the production of new down. And as with pretty much all Mountain Equipment clothing, this warm and durable eco-friendly down jacket is also super stylish.
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Down jacket: Patagonia Down Sweater Jacket
A high quality down jacket is an essential item in the wardrobe of every outdoors person. But don’t let the appealing price tags and cosy exterior suck you in. It’s what’s on the inside that really counts. There’s no doubt that there are cheap options available, but you’ll get a jacket filled with down that is neither good quality nor ethical. Patagonia, along with many other high quality outdoor brands, only use down that is certified to the Advanced Global Traceable Down standard by NSF International. This certificate ensures that goose down is gathered from farms where there is no live-plucking. Farms where conditions are aligned with animal welfare standards. To top it off, the 800-fill power cosiness of the Patagonia Down Sweater is protected by a 100% recycled polyester ripstop shell, that is also windproof. Now that’s one feel good jacket, in every sense of the word.
Vivobarefoot work tirelessly to push the limits of what can be done in the name of sustainability. Many of their shoes are vegan friendly and also made from plastic bottles that are recycled into durable polyester. But their latest creation, the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite II Bio, is a step above the rest and is quite possibly the most eco-friendly shoe on the planet! Though not designed for hiking, the super tough soles that are constructed of 45% natural rubber, 45% synthetic material and 10% BLOOM (an algae-based alternative to synthetic and petrochemical EVA) deal with light trail use with no problem at all. They also feature durable uppers made from Susterra Propanediol — a natural by-product of the field corn food industry, and Sorona plant based fibres. Add to that the fact that they’re mega comfy and their barefoot design encourages you to move more naturally, and you’ve got yourself one heck of a desirable shoe that will save your body as well as our planet!
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All of the above items are great options if you care about the environment. However, before you go buying a new piece of eco-friendly outdoor clothing, be sure that you’ve explored all your other options. Consider buying second-hand, fixing your gear or even swapping stuff with your friends — just for a change!
Finally, for some handy tips on how to be an more eco-friendly camper, take a read of our tips for green camping.
Let’s all take some positive steps toward being responsible consumers.