By: Katherine Oakes
It’s true that wearing the right clothing is a necessity in the outdoors, but does the creation of those products really need to cause harm to the environment you love? No, they don’t—especially with so many sustainable, ethical outdoor clothing brands that craft eco-friendly and long-lasting layers to minimize your impact and maximize your fun.
As outdoor enthusiasts, we can’t forget that the apparel industry is the fifth largest global polluter and accounts for 10% of global emissions. At first, it might seem silly to spend a lot of money on sustainable outdoor clothing, but when you consider the fact that 15 million tons of textiles go to US landfills every year, it makes it much easier to think of that jacket as an investment for yourself and the planet.
Make your purchase one with a purpose by shopping from these 10 sustainable & eco-friendly outdoor clothing brands.
What Makes an Outdoor Brand Eco-Friendly?
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to shopping for sustainable, eco-friendly outdoor clothing and gear. The word “sustainable” covers a lot of ground. Chances are the first few things that come to mind when you think about sustainable, ethical or eco-friendly brands are recycled materials and organic cotton. While those are both important ways for a brand to be sustainable there’s so much more to it than that.
Sustainability can manifest in a company’s internal and operational efforts, such as installing solar panels, using renewable energy, and diverting waste streams from offices. Or sustainability can happen within the supply chain by analyzing the production processes at factories, sourcing the most sustainable materials, using responsible shipping methods, ensuring fair labor practices, and planning for each product’s end of life. For a deeper dive, read this article on the state of sustainability in the outdoor gear and apparel supply chain by the Outdoor Industry Alliance.
And now, here are our favorite sustainable brands that make durable and stylish outdoor clothing for adventurers and those on the go.
1) Picture Organics
Blending transparency with a low impact manufacturing model, this ethical outdoor clothing company is dedicated to creating a business that is entirely sustainable. From the beginning, the team at Picture Organics quite literally pictures the recyclability, second life and minimally-impactful end life of each piece. With organic, recycled and bio-sourced materials they are aiming to combat climate change and help you look good, too. We love the cliche, sophisticated look of the Picture Organics Kate ski jacket.
This iconic California brand is a mainstay on this list for its bold moves towards longer-lasting products, emphasis on only buying what you need and the strides they have made in shaping a more socially and environmentally-responsible industry. If you already know about Patagonia’s sustainable outdoor clothing and gear, shop their used line, Worn Wear, and take advantage of their repair shop to make your favorite pieces last a lifetime. A Patagonia synchilla fleece jacket should be a staple in everyone’s closet for easy winter layering.
Based in Burlington, Vermont, Skida outfits East Coasters and New Englanders living the mountain lifestyle. Their Skida handmade headwear, neck warmers, and a new line of cashmere goods had humble beginnings as a mother-daughter duo that has now grown tenfold. Skida is made ethically in the USA by local Vermont seamstresses and their program, Skida [+1] gives hats to cancer patients who have lost their hair from chemotherapy. Their fun, alpine-inspired prints are reason enough to buy one for yourself but their commitment to community and staying local makes them even better in our book. This unique, one of a kind Skida neckwarmer is fun, hip & colorful.
Cotopaxi has already made a name for themselves as one of the best eco-friendly outdoor clothing brands in the biz. Cotopaxi is a Certified B Corporation, which means that they do more good than harm, like using recycled scraps as material, empowering impoverished factory workers with fair wages and equal opportunities—oh, and making really great outdoor clothing, too. These Cotopaxi Wazimu Athletic tights are great for getting outdoors in cooler temps. In addition to all of that, Cotopaxi works to fund organizations making a positive global impact by providing grants and sharing that research with the Cotopaxi community.
With a tagline like, “clothing with a conscious”, this sustainable outdoor clothing brand was one of the first to hit the list. Toad&Co creates functional and fashionable pieces with a minimal impact to help you maximize your time spent outdoors. For example, their mission to do away with using raw materials to make fabrics like acrylic and use recycled wool, a naturally sustainable, anti-microbial and high-performing material is bold and necessary. Add that to their clean manufacturing and high standards for an entirely ethical company means you can trust that this purchase also has a purpose. Stylish, functional, and eco-friendly—the Tangerine Falls Jacket from Toad&Co has it all going on.
Prana has been a long-time player in the industry as a sustainable outdoor clothing brand that consistently delivers on all fronts: fashion, function and farm-to-factory production. This means that a safe and respectful method is used from the fields where hemp and cotton are grown to the well-being of the people assembling their clothing. For those reasons and more we like to keep Prana on our radar for great pieces that are ethically made in addition to their evolution as a trailblazing brand. We love the Prana Filary Cotton Top that seems almost fleece-like.
7) Ten Tree
The Ten Tree Juniper Balsa Hoodie is a staple in my closet for winter weekends. The name of this certified B corporation gives it all away: for every purchase, ten trees are planted. Beyond that, they also have lofty goals to be one of the most environmentally progressive brands in the industry with a roster of innovative materials that have a seriously low impact.
8) Anjali Clothing
This tiny but mighty yoga and activewear brand is a husband and wife duo that makes high-quality pieces for women and men. In a world where big brands rule the yoga and activewear industry, the team at Anjali is bringing back the heart and soul of small businesses by creating their products from recycled materials and keeping the production local. Don’t miss snagging a pair of their comfy and relaxed Anjali Elevation Pants; they are perfect for yoga or morning errands.
9) Wild Rye
Wild Rye is a women’s outdoor clothing made by women who love the outdoors. We love their mountain biking, hiking, skiing, and everything else-ing apparel because it’s designed to fit real women’s bodies and look good, too. Their Mauna Kea Raglan long-sleeved shirt is made of merino wool and perfect sun protection for high summit hikes. Given all of these awesome aspects of their brand, it might be easy to overlook their rigorous environmental standards, such as their commitment to using BlueSign certified textiles whenever possible, which is quickly becoming an industry standard among ethical brands to ensure safe and thoughtful manufacturing from seed to stitch. Check out their collab with one of our other favorite companies, Skida!
Coalatree is a brand that we recently discovered and now love. Based in Salt Lake City, Utah, they partner with local organizations to maintain hiking and biking trails, remove trash, and help at risk-youth access the wilderness and the healing powers of nature. Their eco-friendly clothing is made from recycled and repurposed materials whenever possible. In fact, some of their products, including the Coalatree Evolution Hoodie, are made using recycled plastic bottles and coffee grounds. And last but not least, Coalatree’s factory partners use sustainable energy and water saving technologies as well as non-toxic, sustainable production methods.