Sustainable outside gear manufacturers that go the best way
In this day and age, outerwear brands know that consumers want more. It is not enough to just make a functional product or a fashionable cloth. Customers care about their purchases – and their effects. Yes, “fast fashion” is still there, but even bigger fashion brands are running campaigns to educate them about climate change and the overall impact of manufacturing hard goods on a global scale.
One area where the impact is particularly important is the outdoor equipment market. The math is simple: manufacturers need to protect the areas where customers gamble so they can resell the products that customers use there. From plastic-free commitments to recycling programs, used clothing to certification for renewable organic products – these are some of our most popular brands for sustainable outdoor gear that take climate action seriously.
Patagonia & Patagonia Terms
Patagonia – Drew Smith
You can’t write a story about brands that “go the way” without mentioning Patagonia and Patagonia Provisions. Your mission is to “save our home planet” and take some bold steps to “learn to be an anarchist company”. That direction means moving towards 100 percent renewable and recycled raw materials (Patagonia just announced a new material, NetPlus, which is made from 100 percent traceable recycled fishing nets), pioneering the renewable organic certified agriculture movement, and continues to do so focus on quality and repairability; and fund the environment for nonprofits; and the creation of the largest repair center in the U.S. (and encouraging the industry to sell used equipment, as is the case through the used clothing program, Worn Wear) . It cannot be overlooked that the brand ensures that its products are manufactured under safe and fair working conditions.
To start with, Cotopaxi was founded to “do good”. This Salt Lake City-based B Corp has focused on solving poverty. Cotopaxi has a variety of grants to support this targeted cause, from integration and training services for refugees to campaigns to eradicate malaria. Cotopaxi sees climate change as one of the main causes of economic inequality. To double its mission, the brand is committed to making 100 percent of its product line from responsible, recycled or reused materials by 2022 – an achievable goal when you consider that it is currently 90 percent.
Raleigh Denim Workshop
Another brand born out of sustainability and the dream of simplifying the supply chain is Raleigh Denim (which we consider an outdoor brand due to their manufacturing philosophy and how radically their jeans work for outdoor exploration). The small but fine brand achieved cult status thanks to its durable product and the “Farm to Table” process, or better said “Cotton to Jean”. Founded in 2008, the brand initiated the first organic cotton harvest in North Carolina, just 45 miles from their Raleigh factory, where they always paid ethical wages and repaired customer items. His ideology of quality over quantity lends itself, of course, to sustainable practices.
Courtesy of Picture
The French brand Picture was founded on the ethos of sustainability by three childhood friends who loved mountain and ocean sports. One of the co-founders in 2008 was a green architect who enabled the brand to set a baseline right from the start that every product is made from at least 50 percent recycled, organic, or bio-based materials. The apparel manufacturers are known for bringing cutting edge eco-friendly technologies like the latest (and very cool) BIO polyester made from sugar cane waste to the market.
Courtesy of WNDR
As the first ski brand to receive B Corp certification, Utah’s WNDR skis have not only proven that legacy petroleum-based products are not required to build skis, but that it can be done in a 100 percent renewable energy facility. With the introduction of AlgalTech, a microalgae biotechnology developed in-house, WNDR is leading the way in the hardware market that we hope won’t be so lonely in the years to come.
The fishing and outdoor brand Orvis understands that their customers need preserved spaces to use Orvis products. That is why she donates 5 percent of pre-tax profits every year for the protection of nature, the support of the communities and the promotion of the health and well-being of dogs the appropriate scholarship program. This conservation program has helped raise (and donate) more than $ 20 million over the past 25 years. More recently, Orvis has partnered with Trout Unlimited, Save Bristol Bay, and the Everglades Foundation to promote the long-term protection of two of the most pristine and important wildlife-rich areas in the United States
It has been said that wool is “natural technology” and is considered a renewable resource. Icebreaker is aware of this and in its 25-year history has switched from using technical fabrics such as poly-blends to improve its clothing to dismantling processes and reintegrating natural technical fabrics such as TENCEL, making its products 100 percent of course, without sacrificing performance. Icebreaker is committed to being 100 percent plastic-free by 2023.
The Swiss mountain equipment and clothing brand Mammut was known for innovations in the past with its avalanche transceivers and climbing gear. Now, however, Mammut is building a new reputation in nursing. It started with its commitment to be PFC-free by 2023 and has now implemented the WE CARE program, which stands for clean production, animal welfare, reduced footprint and ethical production.
Arc’teryx may not have gotten a foothold in sustainability in the past, but it is trying to change that. The uncompromising Canadian outdoor clothing brand meets waste directly with its Used Gear program, which pays back 20 percent of the original price of a gift card. This year Arc’teryx introduced GORE-TEX jackets made from scrap materials, the Beta SV Rebird and the Rush Rebird. On a larger scale, Arc’teryx pledged $ 1 million for outdoor accessibility and conservation with the launch of its Outer Peace initiative. Outer Peace supports partners who are committed to protecting nature and removing barriers by eliminating structural inequalities in the outdoors. Not to be missed are the Arc’teryx Academies – Climbing, Alps and Backcountry – which support all mountaineers who want to improve their skills and understanding in order to encourage greater respect for the environment.
Other notable branding efforts by the outdoor industry
With some of the drastic steps towards sustainability taken by outdoor industry leaders, now in 2021 any brand that doesn’t have a sustainability program, or at least plans to incorporate renewable energy into production, is under pressure. With so many brands on the rise now, it’s impossible to highlight all of them – although a handful of other personalities quickly spring to mind. We love what Rab did over the past year by joining the Fair Wear Foundation and using five recycled tech fabrics, including recycled GORE-TEX and recycled Pertex. Big Agnes deserves a nod for its solution-dyed tents and cane-based foam pads.
Courtesy Big Agnes
We are excited about the new clothing collection 2021-’22 from the French ski brand Black Crows, which uses the promising new eco-friendly waterproof material Xpore. The new 2022 Renew series from Giro and the new collaboration with the Australian premium bike brand MAAP Sustainability. With Primaloft’s new PURE (Produced Using Reduced Emissions), CO2 emissions are reduced by 48 percent. We love that GORE-TEX is now 100 percent certified according to the 100 percent OEKO-TEX standard and has committed itself to being climate neutral by 2050. GORE’s mentality for protection, extension and performance deals intensively with long-term sustainability and its commitment to developing permanent solutions. We are also excited about the new outdoor clothing brand Artilect from Boulder, CO, which is based on sustainability.
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