You are an outdoor enthusiast that cares about the environment, but knows the importance of quality gear; you likely want quality gear, but you want eco friendly camping gear that is made of more sustainable materials than traditional outdoor gear. In this article, we are going to help you understand what you should be looking for in terms of materials and brands in order to achieve a balance of sustainability and quality for your outdoor adventures.
Eco Friendly Outdoor Brands
When looking for sustainable gear, you should also be investing in gear from a company that has a sustainability policy that is high quality, and more than just a vanity attribute to gather more customers. While nearly all brands are acting in sustainable manners to attract more customers, some do so with more impactful policies, and some have placed sustainability into their culture so deeply, that their names are synonymous with preserving the great outdoors. Patagonia is a great example of this.
So what should you look for in each of these brands?
- Sustainability pages on the website, mission statements, and adherence to sustainability. For instance, Patagonia has major website pages dedicated to dozens of different environmental protection initiatives. The brand you purchase from should as well.
- Purchase products that state materials are recycled, or sourced from sustainable sources, and use only or mostly materials that are less impactful. Companies will likely state this on product pages, but later in this article we will explain specific materials to look for and watch out for.
- Does a percentage of your order go towards sustainability? Whether profits, or a percentage of revenue, these are small things that can help a little.
- Look for ethically sourced material language for individual products as well.
- Look for recyclable materials in packing and shipping when possible
Eco Friendly Materials
When looking for eco-friendly camping gear, you want to pay attention to materials, as there are certain materials that are more sustainable than others.
Look for the following:
Canvas / Recycled Canvas
Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) organic cotton
Look For Ethically Produced Materials & Products
Simply put, you should be looking for recycled plastics in your gear. In addition, when you see natural materials being used, like cotton, or wool, you should be looking for sustainability and fair trade certifications. There are tons of certifications out there, so be sure to look into the certifications that you see for the gear you are finding.
Eco Friendly Practices & Tips
Buy used gear
There is pretty much nothing more sustainable than buying used gear from friends, thrift stores, regular shops, or marketplaces. Even the most sustainably made new product won’t be as good for the environment as utilizing used gear. Fortunately, even Patagonia, REI, Arc’teryx, and other brands have used sections as well to help guarantee quality even from used products.
Travel To Stores By Foot, Bike, or Public Transport
Traveling to locations via cars has a negative impact. While this may be small in the grand scheme of things, if everyone utilizes more environmentally friendly transportation, a difference can be made. Make these efforts whenever possible.
Ship Items Together
Shipping also has negative impacts on the environment. Multiple boxes and items means more use of plastic, cardboard, paper, and other packing materials. It also may mean more fuel consumption for shipping. Try to make purchases together to reduce this consumption.
Be Sure To Purchase Correct Sizes
Returning items wastes packing, and consumes fuel in return shipping or traveling to the store. If you have the opportunity to test sizes beforehand, do so, and recognize that getting the correct size to begin with will make a difference.
Purchasing gear more local to your area will result in lesser shipping fuel consumption most likely. The more you can purchase locally, the greater likelihood you are making a small improvement.
Repair Your Old Gear
Instead of purchasing new gear when a tear occurs, zipper breaks, or hole appears, make a repair! Buy a zipper repair kit, have a small sewing kit, utilize patches when possible. You’ll not only save money in the long run, but utilizing gear for longer reduces consumption. Buying new gear is inevitably worse for the environment than simply using gear for longer.
Buy High Quality Gear That Will Last
Cheaper certainly isn’t always better. If you are buying new, make sure you buy a high quality item that will last. Having gear that will last you multiple years is much better for the environment, and often even your wallet than buying multiple pieces of gear per year.
Recycled Material Outdoor Gear Brands
Here we wanted to list out some brands that offer high quality outdoor products made from recycled materials.
Tentree plants a tree with every purchase, many gear is made of 100% recycled materials, they are certified safe and fair labor, and have sustainable manufacturing practices.
Patagonia offers some recycled material products, has fair trade options, is transparent about factory processes, and has a program to give back to the environment.
One of the most well known quality backpack manufacturers, and has some fantastic sustainable options.
See Osprey’s Sustainability Measures (Backpacks at the bottom of page)
United By Blue
United By Blue has backpack offerings that are made 100% recycled polyester and vegetable-tanned leather.
Vaude has gear with main materials that are organic cotton, castor oil-based plastic, and milk-based felt. All of which are more sustainable and eco-friendly than commonly used backpack materials.
Has plenty of gear that is made with REPREVE materials. REPREVE is 100% recycled plastic bottles.
REI also has recycled options for hikers, campers, and backpackers.
Max DesMarais is the founder of hikingandfishing.com. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor adventure, travel, and marketing websites. He is an experienced hiker, backpacker, fly fisherman, trail runner, and spends his free time in the outdoors. These adventures allow him to test gear, learn new skills, and experience new places so that he can educate others. Max grew up hiking all around New Hampshire and New England. He became obsessed with the New Hampshire mountains, and the NH 48, where he guided hikes and trail runs in the White Mountains. Since moving out west, Max has continued his frequent adventures in the mountains, always testing gear, learning skills, gaining experience, and building his endurance for outdoor sports. You can read more about his experience here: hikingandfishing/about