14 Eco-Conscious & Sustainable Outdoor Brands

Last Updated: April 2021

As outdoor enthusiasts, sustainability and environmentalism are often at the forefront of our minds.

After all, if we want to continue to enjoy the outdoors, we need to protect our natural spaces. 

Many people assume this means following Leave No Trace guidelines, and while that is a part of it, that’s only one piece of the puzzle.

Everything that we consume has an environmental impact, including outdoor gear and clothing, allowing us to have comfortable and safe outdoor experiences. 

Not all outdoor gear is created equally in quality, but they also are not all produced sustainably.

That’s why we are putting together a list of the most eco-conscious and sustainable outdoor brands for apparel and gear.

Now, none of these brands or companies are perfect, but they are all moving in the right direction to help preserve the outdoor spaces we love so much. 

Since we won’t include all the sustainable outdoor brands in our list, we’ve also included a short guide to help you identify sustainable products whenever you’re shopping.  Also don’t forget to check out our guide to How to Choose Vegan Outdoor Gear.

Looking at the Entire Life Cycle of Outdoor Products

Before we jump right into the outdoor brands that exhibit the most sustainable practices, we need to discuss what makes them sustainable in the first place.

People often gravitate towards the idea that sustainability is focused mainly on the product’s materials. While this is an important aspect, we want to stress that consumers should start to look at the whole product life cycle, not solely the materials and afterlife of a product. 

The whole product life cycle is looking at a product from the time the materials are extracted from the Earth, going through production, transportation, consumer sale, and then disposal. After all, there are environmental impacts every step of the way. 


In short, extraction is the steps taken to collect and remove the natural resources necessary for producing something. This could be cotton to make clothing or tree to make paper.

All materials require some natural element, even if it is just the fuel necessary for production. How, where, and what is being extracted from the Earth is something that not all companies choose to be transparent about, although it impacts their product’s sustainability. 

Since every product begins its life with resource extraction, it is an essential factor when looking at the whole life cycle and overall product environmental impact. 


The next stage in a product life cycle is production. The production of the product is how the resources and materials are combined to make the product. Most of the time, this is done in some sort of factory setting. 

When looking at the sustainability of an outdoor brand, we want to mention that environmental impact isn’t the only factor in production.

Consumers should also look at where the product is made, how the workers are being treated, if workers receive fair wages, and if the factory meets environmental standards for waste processing. 

For most outdoor gear, especially fabrics, the three most important parts of production to look at include textile dying, if they use polyester, and water waste. 

Textile dyeing is an issue throughout the fashion industry, so outdoor brands are not alone, but they contribute. The primary reason it is a problem and should be acknowledged is that it is the second biggest cause of freshwater pollution. 

Polyester is an increasingly common material, especially in outdoor clothing and equipment.

Polyester is the most used fiber in the world. However, polyester sheds microplastics that are non-biodegradable after every wash, not to mention the textile waste during production. 

Then, we have water waste. To produce nearly anything, we need water to do it. Did you know that it takes around 2700 liters (713 gallons) of water to produce one cotton t-shirt? If a company, especially a textile company, details its water use and water-saving efforts, that’s a good thing. 


Transportation occurs in many stages of a product life cycle, and almost all modes of transporting consumer goods have an impact on the environment. Most of the time, this is in the form of greenhouse gas emissions. 

When looking at how transportation is integrated into a product life cycle, one of the first things to look at is where a product is being made.

If you are a buyer in the United States, but the product is made in Vietnam, it needs to travel further. You can also consider other transportation implications like ordering a product online or buying it in a store. 


The packaging is one of the most manageable parts of a product life cycle for a consumer to identify as being eco-friendly or not. It is also a place that consumers can easily be tricked by marketing to buy something that only appears to be “green.” 

If you’re reading this article, chances are you already try to find or are actively are searching for ways to be more environmentally friendly. That also means that you likely avoid materials like plastic in packaging. 

Plastic is an identifiable material that many consumers can choose to avoid. However, other materials can also be detrimental to the environment, especially if they cannot be reused or recycled.

When it comes to packaging, it helps to know how your local waste and recycling systems work and what materials they accept.

Just because a product has a recycling symbol, it doesn’t mean that it will be accepted or processed and recycled by your local waste collection service.  


Beyond the disposal and recycling of packaging, it is important to look at the product’s disposal and afterlife. If you are buying outdoor gear, most of the time, you use it until it can no longer be used.

That’s great!

That means you got the most out of the product. Still, what happens to those materials once you get rid of them? 

Many outdoor products like tents, rain clothes, and backpacks use materials that include polyester or other synthetic fibers.

These can take a long time to break down, and most of them never truly biodegrade. They continue to release microplastics into the environment. 

So, when looking at the materials used to make a product, yes, you want durable outdoor gear, but also consider the implications of that product and material afterlife once you’re finished using it. 

So, What Makes a Sustainable Product or Outdoor Brand?

eco conscious hiking

With the whole product life cycle in mind, what other things define a sustainable outdoor product or outdoor brand?

For starters, we chose two ways consumers can identify outdoor brands that are working towards being environmentally friendly. 

Product transparency 

First, look for product transparency. Companies that genuinely have the consumer and environment’s best interest in mind will tell you where the product was made, how it was made, and all of the materials used.

They will have no issue disclosing to the consumer every step of the product life cycle because they should be proud of it. 

For most companies, this information is found on their website. With true product transparency, it should be easy to find information that doesn’t confuse the consumer or omit any information like types of materials or where the product is made. 

NO Greenwashing 

Although “greenwashing” can technically be included in product transparency, we separated it because it largely has to do with marketing, not necessarily how a product is made. 

Greenwashing is defined as

to make people believe that your company is doing more to protect the environment than it really is.”

There are many ways companies do this, but a few common examples include using uncertified jargon like “natural” or by changing the color scheme of the packaging to give an eco-vibe.

The easiest way to avoid buying greenwashed products is to get to know the company and its product transparency, as well as looking for legitimate, sustainable certifications or phrases on products. 

Some product identifiers to look for on legitimately sustainable products include: 

  • Fair Trade
  • Organic 
  • Bluesign certified
  • Forest Stewardship Council
  • Animal welfare
  • B-Corp Certification 

Whether intentional or not, greenwashing is a tactic used to market products that appear to be more environmentally friendly than they are. 

Ethical Outdoor Apparel Brands

Taking and applying all of the content we outlined above can take some time to get the hang of, and not all of the things we mentioned will apply to all companies.

Many outdoor apparel brands will often focus on a few outdoor initiatives, donate to various conservation efforts, and continue to work on policy to improve production. 

To help you narrow things down, we chose ten outdoor clothing companies with more ethical and environmentally friendly production practices.

Not all of them are perfect, but they have proven to improve and continue to be transparent in their messaging. 


  • Produced with Life-Cycle Assessments to track and minimize environmental impact
  • Advocates for consumer knowledge for product care and repair.
  • Bluesign manufacturer
  • Actively researching microplastics to better manufacture clothing and minimize pollution 


  • Made from recycled and eco-friendly materials
  • Donates some profits to organizations that help combat poverty 
  • B-Corp certified
  • Provides detailed impact report

Helly Hansen

  • A leader in preserving water during textile manufacturing 


  • B-Corp certified 
  • Uses recycled materials and has a recycling program
  • Utilizes low-impact vegetable dyes 
  • Has a sustainability team to continue to find better ways to produce clothing


  • Sustainable/Durable Products
  • Worn wear and clothing recycling programs
  • Environmental advocacy and education 
  • B-Corp certified 
  • Donates 1% of sales to environmental organizations 

Picture Organic

  • Uses environmentally friendly materials 
  • Uses sustainable development goals to guide their manufacturing process
  • B-Corp Certified 


Save the Duck 

  • Focus on animal welfare with 100% animal-free products
  • Continues to achieve and work towards sustainable development goals
  • B-Corp certified 

Toad & Co

  • Uses recycled materials 
  • Upcycles old garments to encourage a move towards a closed-loop system of production 
  • Has reusable packaging 


  • Well-made products for long-term use
  • Can upcycle clothing easily
  • Fair Trade
  • Bluesign materials 

The list above is not exhaustive by any means, but it gives you a good basis of things to look for when shopping for outdoor clothing. 

Sustainable Outdoor Gear Companies 

Eco-Conscious Outdoor Brands hiking

Buying outdoor gear is much like buying outdoor apparel, but it can be more difficult to narrow down and find companies that focus on environmental standards.

Here are a few brands to look at first when shopping for equipment. 


  • Bluesign materials 
  • Uses low-impact materials 
  • Oeko-Tex Standard 100 materials
  • Retrieve and reuse surplus fabric during the production 
  • Repair and exchange program to ensure durability and divert from landfills
  • Promotes consumer knowledge on gear care

Mountain Hardware and Colombia Sportswear


  • Durable, recycled materials
  • Bluesign materials
  • Uses 3rd-party auditing for environmental standards 
  • Has a killer repair policy for gear
  • Sustainability transparency


  • The unique co-op model allows them to give back almost 70% of profits to outdoor communities
  • Promote secondhand gear and repairs
  • REI brand products are made with high environmental standards in mind 
  • Advocate for consumer knowledge of sustainability

The Other Way to Buy Environmentally Friendly Outdoor Gear

To be honest, buying new gear is not the most environmentally friendly option out there. 

If possible, buy used gear and secondhand clothing. This isn’t always an option, especially with safety equipment used for certain outdoor sports. 

However, with items like backpacks or clothes, secondhand gear can be high-quality, affordable, and extends the product’s life making it more eco-friendly in the long run. 

Key Takeaways

As outdoor enthusiasts, sustainability and environmentalism should be at the forefront of our minds.

If we want to continue to enjoy the outdoors, we need to protect our natural spaces. 

Not all outdoor gear is created equally in quality, but they also are not all produced sustainably.

That’s why we put together this list of the most eco-conscious and sustainable outdoor brands for apparel and gear.

This post may contain affiliate links. Read the full disclosure here.

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