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This year we’ve been plagued with extreme weather, natural disasters and unforgiving viruses (ahem, COVID-19). Some cities and regions are still under lockdown but other areas have begun operating again which has reawakened travel wanderlust.
Enjoying any outdoor activity during this global health crisis is fine as long as you observe the necessary social distancing rules and ensure that you are sporting the proper gear; and by proper gear, I don’t just mean your reusable, eco-friendly mask but the appropriate ethical and sustainable outdoor wear.
So if the pandemic isn’t holding you hostage in your home and you have some freedom to head out on a travel adventure, here are some ethical and sustainable outdoor clothing brands that produce durable and super functional outdoor wear to help protect you from nature’s elements:
From surfing to trail running to mountain climbing, Patagonia has the perfect outfit for you. Whether you’re planning to break out in a sweat on a hike or planning for regular days at your farm, this sustainable brand has everything to protect you from whatever nature sends your way. A pioneer in ethical and sustainable apparel, Patagonia was founded by enterprising mountain climbers who have a love and respect for the natural environment, and so the clothing and equipment have been made with planet and people in mind.
The business sources many eco-friendly fabrics for their collections including organic cotton, industrial hemp or recycled polyester and also invests in producing innovative sustainable fabrics that are durable and low-impact.
This California-based yoga and outdoor apparel label offers high-quality earth-friendly clothing made for outdoor activities including running, yoga or biking that allows you to move freely without compromising ethical values, style and comfort. Ideal clothing for travel or for everyday life. And prAna clothing all tell a story too. Most of the collections are made from sustainable materials such as organic cotton, hemp and recycled fibres, and they’ve been made fairly too. In addition, this pioneering sustainable brand (founded in 1992) is committed to continuous improvement, and has recently launched its Responsible Packaging Movement (RPM), a program to create industry-wide change in packaging and inspire other fashion businesses to do the same.
Australian brand Team Timbuktu was conceived when founder and owner Rhianna Knight was hiking through Patagonia in outdoor wear that were made from synthetic materials. With a background in fashion, she realised that she had to create stylish outdoor clothing that performed to high standards but didn’t negatively impact the environment. True to its purpose, Team Timbuktu responsibly produces its clothes using organic cotton or materials made from recycled content, and they’ll look great on your Insta Stories too!
Founded in 1987, Kathmandu designs apparel that can withstand the rugged terrain of the country. Over the last several years, the brand has focussed on sourcing sustainable materials such as sustainable cotton, recycled polyester and other biobased materials, investing in microfibre research and shifting to a circular economy. Kathmandu has also scored an ‘A’ two years in a row in the Baptist World Aid‘s Ethical Fashion Guide.
New Zealand headquartered outdoor clothing brand Icebreaker produces a range of comfortable adventure clothing for men and women from premium merino wool and other natural and recycled fabrics. The brand is rated ‘Good’ by fashion ratings app Good On You for upholding high labour standards, paying living wages and sourcing wool from non-mulesed sheep. This brand is known for its comfy and cozy base layers that keep you warm in the coolest of temperatures.
This Italian brand won PETA’s Company of the Year award in 2019 and found a vegan cult following when the world’s first vegan ever to scale Everest Kuntal A. Joshier climbed the mountain decked out in Save the Duck ethical outerwear.
Save the Duck is all about respect – respect for nature, respect for animals, respect for the customers’ health and welfare as well as respect for the people working for the company. If you’re looking for vegan-friendly and cruelty-free outdoor clothing for your travel adventures, you’re in good hands with Save the Duck.
This American brand actually began as an organic farm in Colorado before launching its own range of eco-friendly outdoor apparel and workwear in 2010. Producing garments from organic and recycled materials (its latest denim collection is made from recycled bottles and coffee grounds!), the range of outdoor clothing and gear are designed in Salt Lake City, Utah, and produced at various locations around the world. Committed to partnering with ethical and eco-friendly factories, all Coalatree Organics production facilities are bluesign® certified and the business uses “tree-free” packaging. The company also donates to local organisations (for example, donating blankets to homeless shelters) through its Give Back initiatives.
Who knew that looking for a pair of winter sports socks could lead to a clothing brand that caters to outdoorsy men and women? Smartwool produces outerwear with eco-friendly and natural materials such as Merino wool, recycled wool, recycled nylon and recycled polyester. They’ve also partnered with ZQ Wool to make sure that their wool fibers are ethically sourced. All activewear is designed for durability and breathability.
While Smartwool is making some efforts on the sustainability front, fashion ratings app Good On You has given the brand an overall rating of ‘It’s a Start’ as the company needs to overhaul its fabric mix, supply chain transparency and provide more evidence that it pays fair and living wages.
When shopping for outdoor gear, North Face is usually the first brand that comes to mind because it is one of the longest-running outdoor equipment and apparel businesses in the world, founded in 1966 in California, USA. Designed for high-performance in moveability, durability and breathability – whether you trek the vicious trail of Annapurna Circuit in Nepal or squeeze through the narrow slot canyons of Mecca Hills – North Face will protect you no matter what nature throws at you.
However, the more sustainable North Face option is The North Face Renewed. Launched in 2018, this arm of the business offers refurbished and recycled North Face apparel which helps to prevent its textiles from ending up in landfill. This is a part of the company’s commitment to circular fashion and ensures that its used clothing is repaired and brought back to life. For budget-conscious customers, The North Face Renewed is also a more affordable option.
10. Camp Brand Goods
Established in 2011 by Canadian husband and wife team Connor and Leslie Gould, Camp Brand Goods started as a local pop-up market which quickly evolved into an online shop and more recently, a brick and mortar space called The Livery Shop. It stocks outerwear suitable for camping as the name suggests, so think beanies, hoodies, sweatshirts and shirts. All products are ethically sourced and produced in WRAP-certified standards which means they weren’t made in sweatshops. They use “premium” materials that are guaranteed to outlast any fast fashion outlet. (Note: they do not focus on utilising eco-friendly materials and you will need to consider this when browsing their e-store).
Aside from creating adventure wear for women, men and children that is stylish and functional (from ski slopes to surf and everywhere in between), Picture’s mission and commitment to the environment is continuous. Founded in 2008, Picture is a Certified B-Corporation which means its brand upholds high standards of social and environmental standards and is a force for good; it pays fair wages, built its own plastic-recycling machine, has a gender equal workforce and its new headquarters will feature a vegetable garden, be 100% powered by renewable energies as well as being sustainably designed for energy efficiency and have the capability of collecting rainwater. It fights against climate change in every aspect of their business from its use of eco-friendly materials (recycled fabrics, organic cotton) through to its plan to wipe out use of plastics in its packaging.
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Cover image via Picture.