We all love to get outside, but have you thought about the environmental impact of outdoor recreation? It turns out that we use a tremendous amount of plastic and energy in the name of chasing that big view, climbing a mountain or even just enjoying a leisurely hike. Don’t believe me? I kept all of the plastic my household produced in a month and a whopping 30 percent of that waste came from outdoor exploits. The next time you buy gear, give back to the environment with these eco-friendly outdoor gear essentials.
What Makes Outdoor Gear Eco-Friendly?
When it comes to the wild realm of outdoor gear, there’s a lot of marketing out there. Without proper standards, it’s easy to get confused with finding the right eco-friendly outdoor gear. Not to mention, even within the realm of sustainability, there is a lot of discourse and no real consensus on what may be right or wrong. When shopping for eco-friendly outdoor gear, pay attention to the following:
- The company’s mission. Do they support sustainable initaives? Do they give back to the community? Are they focused on integrating recycled material? Investigate a company’s mission.
- Look for certifications. There is an array of different types of certifications that verify if a product or company is on the right track with sustaianability. Look for labels like Responsible Down Standard, BluSign, registered B-Corp and more.
- Pay attention to packaging. This is a big one. Polybags (or the plastic bags everything comes in when shipped) are a huge environmental hazard. So are excessive packing, tons of hang tags with plastic, and more. Pay attention to how the product is packaged and if the company uses innovative ways to package goods.
1. Stay Warm with GoLite’s ReScooba Jacket
The GoLite ReScooba is a grab-and-go mid-layer provides plenty of warmth that also allows you to breath. Perfect for a chilly morning hike or sitting at a belay station, this jacket uses 28 recycled bottles and contains a durable eco-friendly Teflon with EcoElite DWR. What’s even better is GoLite’s mission to not only recycle but to provide ethical activewear for humanitarian efforts across the globe.
Best Uses: Hiking, running, trail running, biking, and climbing
Drawbacks: It can fit a little snug at the shoulders (but still offers mobility, more of a style thing) and doesn’t come in many colors.
2. Say “No” to Plastic with Stasher Bags
Take the plastic out of your snacks with Stasher Bags. These plastic-free, medical grade silicone bags are an amazing, lightweight alternative to regular plastic bags. They are dishwasher safe for multiple uses and come in a wide variety of sizes (the sandwich and snack sizes are my personal favs for on-the-go adventure). You can even put your backpacking meals in the larger sizes and add hot water since the bags are heat resistant.
Price: Varies from $9.95 to $19.95
Best Uses: Hiking, road trips, travel, backpacking
Drawbacks: Don’t overfill the bags or they won’t seal properly.
Related: Outdoor Gift Ideas for Her (coming soon)
3. Hike for the Ocean with Adidas Terrex Parley Climacool Voyager Sneakers
These are marketed as water shoes, but I’ve taken them all over. From the canyons of Utah to the beaches of Belize and beyond. These sneaks have some stellar rubber that will keep you stable both in town and on the trail. The best part? Adidas teamed up with Parley for the Ocean and uses recycled ocean trash to create their shoe.
Best Uses: Easy trails, approaches to climbs and on slippery rock
Drawbacks: Price tag. Also, there isn’t much support around the ankle.
4. Affordable, Recycled Moisture-Wicking Tee by Recover Brands
I got really excited when I discovered Recover Brands. Why? They are serious about recycled material. Recover offers a 100% recycled shirt by spinning post-consumer plastics and recycled polyester fibers to create their own textiles. These are then transformed into moisture-wicking shirts that work. At first, I thought the plastic might be itchy, but the shirt is quite cozy. I’ve worn mine to the gym, on the trail, and at the crag. Each shirt recycles approximately eight plastic bottles. The best part? At under $30, this tee is also affordable.
Price: $24 – $29 for a tee
Best Uses: Anything that will get you breaking a sweat
Drawbacks: I wish they offered a looser fit for women.
5. Stay Hydrated with the Grayl GEOPRESS
I’m a huge fan of the BPA-free Grayl GEOPRESS for all things travel and water purification. This easy-to-use water purifier takes out everthing from harmful viruses to microplastics. It’s so simple to use, simply fill, vent and press and you’ll have 24 oz of drinking water in seconds.
This incredible water purifier is the ideal choice for world travelers who want filtered water on the go, or those going on long hikes looking for a water filter that doesn’t take eons to use.
Best Uses: Travel, backpacking, hiking
Drawbacks: It’s a touch heavy for backpacking and hiking
6. Light it Up with the Luci Light Pro with MPowered
Luci Lights are simply genius. This blow-up LED, solar powered light uses the sun to charge and quickly gives you ample light. Simply hit the power button to alternate through different intensities, along with a strobe mode for emergencies. The Pro series also lets you charge a USB from the solar panel. The whole system charges in sunlight in just a few hours. MPOWERED believes in providing sustainable solutions to light the world. They provide low-cost purchasing options for communities in need of light, bringing business, education, and light to all corners of the globe.
Cost: $34.95 (Pro) or $19.99 for the basic outdoor model
Best Uses: Backpacking, car camping.
Drawbacks: It isn’t the greatest at charging phones on the go, but it will do the trick in a pinch.
These eco-friendly outdoor gear essentials go beyond simply supplying us with useful tools. Buy gear that gives back to the places you love to play.