People enjoy exploring the great outdoors to feel at one with the environment, exercise, get away from our concrete jungles, simply relax, and many other reasons. When we’re outdoors, the elements can come into play, especially for the more adventurous pursuits such as climbing, camping, water and snow sports, and so on.
The design of specialist outdoor apparel helps us make the best of the conditions, keeping us safe, dry, and warm. This is where the importance of eco-friendly outdoor clothing comes in.
Every year, the world throws out an estimated 92 million tonnes of textile waste. At the same time, the fashion industry represents up to 10% of the global carbon dioxide output, of which the outdoor industry is a contributor. While enjoying outdoor pursuits, it’s possible to remain eco-conscious. In this article, you’ll find some of the top sustainable outdoor clothing brands to explore.
With growing awareness about the environmental impact of the clothing industry, sustainable brands have become more popular. For outdoor lovers, this entails paying attention to the dirty apparel industry. From eco-friendly materials to fair labor practices, eco-friendly brands place intentional practices at the center of their processes.
Many sustainable clothing brands double as ethical brands. As a result, they prioritize supply chain transparency while paying fair wages to factory workers.
When exploring outdoor brands, you might wonder what to pay attention to when shopping. With the influx of greenwashing, sometimes it can be challenging to separate a genuine sustainable outdoor clothing brand from one that’s not. In this section, you’ll discover key points to consider when shopping with sustainable outdoor clothing brands.
Every aspect of clothing production and supply chain has the potential to contribute to climate change. The clothing industry releases a significant amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. As a result, it plays a role in accelerating the impact of climate change.
The material is one of the first things to pay attention to when exploring sustainable outdoor clothing options. Unlike regular outdoor clothing brands, sustainable outdoor clothing brands prioritize organic materials or natural materials. In several other cases, some sustainable outdoor clothing companies will also use one recycled material or the other.
The choice of materials plays a key role when identifying sustainable outdoor clothing brands. Conscious companies will select the most sustainable materials for their products to ensure minimal environmental impact.
On the other hand, synthetic materials place a heavy toll on natural resources and require lots of energy. Fabrics like polyester, spandex, and nylon are among the culprits. Besides their intensive production process, they also affect the environment at the disposal stage since they’re not biodegradable.
By embracing sustainable and recycled fabrics, sustainable and ethical outdoor clothing brands curb these environmental effects. So, before considering an outdoor fashion brand, look closely at its fabric choices.
Eco-friendly outdoor clothing materials include organic cotton, linen, hemp, and bamboo, amongst others. To curb the effect of synthetics that already exists, some brands also use recycled synthetics.
However, this is not necessarily the most effective sustainable fashion solution in the long run. Ideally, sustainable outdoor brands should be switching to natural eco-friendly fabrics. Such fabrics require less energy and less water to produce sustainable apparel.
Another thing to note when considering a sustainable outdoor brand is its production processes, such as extraction procedures down to supply chain practices.
Sustainable outdoor clothing brands are not afraid to be transparent about their processes. Many of these companies work with eco-friendly factories that use renewable or sustainable energy. They also prioritize sustainable and eco-friendly practices like responsible distribution and disposal.
For many consumers, an eco-friendly brand is more than sustainable environmental practices. It’s more than eco-friendly fabrics. This is where ethical outdoor clothing comes in. Ethical outdoor clothing brands champion human welfare. This raises questions about how clothes are made and factory conditions for workers. As a result, fair trade practices are significant. Also, animal welfare is another important aspect, which is why you’ll find vegan-friendly brands.
Outdoor clothing needs to be able to stand the test of time. As a result, the lifespan of your clothes matters. If you buy low-quality apparel at discounted prices, you’ll find yourself constantly making purchases. This contributes to the global cloth disposal challenge that contributes to pollution. In different parts of the world, landfills and water bodies are filled with clothing waste and chemicals. This results from poor quality items and harmful production and disposal practices.
Purchasing high-quality, sustainable outdoor clothing means choosing items that’ll last. In turn, this reduces the need to dispose of and purchase new pieces constantly, contributing to a more sustainable world in the long run. Companies will use fewer resources and produce less waste by reducing overproduction.
Considering the quality and lifespan of outdoor clothing also entails examining what happens when you no longer need the item. A wholly sustainable outdoor clothing brand considers the disposal stage of its items. This is why you’ll find some sustainable and ethical outdoor clothing companies implementing take-back programs.
Here, they allow their customers to return items for recycling and repurposing. As a conscious consumer, also consider if items are biodegradable and recyclable. These systems prevent waste accumulation in landfills and present new ways to work with recycled materials. In many ways, used gear and clothing can become new items.
These days, companies use words like eco-friendly and sustainable as marketing tactics. This presents a greenwashing issue where consumers become unaware of what’s genuinely eco-friendly and what’s not. One of the ways to identify an eco-friendly brand is through its certifications, which transparent brands can demonstrate. These inform their customers that they meet specific requirements set by professional bodies.
When exploring a sustainable outdoor clothing brand, look out for Fair Trade Certification, Certified B Corporation, Fair Labor Association, Climate Neutral Certified, and vegan friendly. Each certification and awarding body has an aspect of the supply chain that they examine.
Once a company is certified by a particular body, customers can rest assured that they meet the highest standards. However, we recognize that there are growing companies that may not yet hold the highest certifications but are still making conscious choices.
Whether you’re into hiking, camping, or any other outdoor activity, you’ll find a sustainable outdoor brand that caters to your needs. These brands set the standard from choosing sustainable and recycled materials to embracing renewable energy sources. If you prefer shopping online over shopping in-store, you can easily shop on their websites.
Quick links to the best sustainable outdoor brands we've featured:
All-season outdoor gear and clothing for men, women, and kids. The brand stocks items like sweatshirts, hoodies, sweaters, t-shirts, shorts, vests, and backpacks, amongst others. The wide product range for everyone and age range makes Patagonia a go-to sustainable outdoor clothing brand.
The brand uses a wide range of natural fibers such as organic cotton, hemp, and linen. It also incorporates recycled materials like recycled cashmere, polyester, and nylon. Additionally, you’ll find products that come in RDS-certified down and RWS-certified merino wool.
Helped establish a regenerative farming certification, encourages buying used items through its Worn Wear resale program, donates 1% of sales towards the preservation and restoration of the natural environment, operates Fair Trade Certified factories, and promotes an ethical supply chain.
Patagonia is one of the top names when exploring sustainable outdoor clothing brands. The company is one of the pioneers in sustainable apparel sourcing with its use of green and recycled materials.
One of the reasons why we recommend Patagonia is that the brand offers practically everything an outdoor enthusiast needs. From ski clothing to outdoor gear, you’re sure to find all you need to explore the outdoors.
Apart from its choice of fabrics, we place Patagonia as a top sustainable outdoor clothing company for its commitment to growth. The brand is constantly exploring new ways to contribute to sustainable development. One of its contributions was its role in establishing the Regenerative Organic Certified program. It’s also a certified B Corporation.
In terms of size inclusivity, Patagonia has been making progress in providing more size options. Although, we hope to see more sizing options to fit more body sizes. Currently, you’ll find the range of XXS-XXL.
Men, women, and kids’ outdoor clothing for activities such as mountain climbing, snowboarding, skiing, and surfing. Stocks activewear, outerwear, streetwear, outdoor gear, and accessories like hammocks and gloves.
Picture incorporates various fabrics and conscious manufacturing procedures. It uses bio-sourced materials like bio-polyester and recycled fabrics like recycled polyester. The company also uses organic fibers, particularly organic cotton, in its manufacturing process.
Transparency is at the core of Picture’s identity. As a conscious brand, they present everything customers need to know on their site. Picture is a member of the Fair Wear Foundation and audits the factories it works with through a supply chain management system.
One of Picture Organic’s main certifications is the Certified B Corp label. This tells you that the company has attained the highest award given to companies with a commitment to environmental responsibility. The company merges low-impact manufacturing with a transparent supply chain model. This presents Picture as not just a sustainable brand but an ethical one as well.
From its use of organic cotton to materials like recycled polyester, we recognize Picture for its commitment to exploring multiple ways to be sustainable.
An area we’d like to see the company improve on is its use of renewable and low-energy sources. Thankfully, it has already made its statement and commitment to increasing its use instead of relying greatly on fossil fuels.
You can explore the ranges from jackets for hiking to suits for swimming on Picture’s site. However, Picture has a slightly smaller size inclusivity range compared to Patagonia.
Outdoor gear and men's and women’s outdoor apparel, including outerwear and activewear. The product range includes fleece and insulated jackets, vests, hoodies, sweatshirts, bottoms, hats, and water bottles.
Most products contain recycled, repurposed, or responsible materials. Fabrics include the (Re)Purpose Collection, which uses remnant fabric, recycled polyester, and responsibly sourced fabrics like RDS-Certified down.
Cotopaxi sources non-virgin and alternative materials, partners with Fair Trade Certified factories, and conducts annual auditing. It offers transparent information about its partnering factories. In addition, the company is Climate Neutral Certified. It's also a member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, a non-profit alliance for the fashion industry.
When people think of sustainable clothing, especially outdoor wear, it’s easy to picture dull or neutral colors. However, this is an area where Cotopaxi sets itself apart.
Besides continuously implementing changes to become more sustainable, the brand also targets fun color lovers.
In terms of style, there’s no doubt that this brand stands out amongst its peers like Patagonia and Picture Organic. It presents funky, bright, and colorful patterns on its offerings while committing to sustainability.
One of the things we appreciate about this brand is the publishing of its yearly impact reports. Like many other conscious companies, the impact report serves as a way to examine the previous year. Apart from highlighting new wins, it’s also a way to present challenges and how the company solves them.
Travel, adventure, and sustainable yoga clothing for men and women. The brand stocks a range of items from tops and bottoms to outerwear, dresses, and swimwear. The collection includes yoga and bra tops, leggings, pants, vests, shirts, performance tops, and sweaters. prAna also provides accessories like yoga mats and chalk bags.
prAna uses different materials depending on the product type. Some fabrics it incorporates during manufacturing include organic cotton, hemp, recycled polyester, and other recycled synthetics, RDS-certified down, sustainably harvested merino wool, and TENCEL modal. It also offers some Fair Trade Certified apparel.
prAna places environmental awareness, social responsibility, and transparency at the core of its practices. As much as it champions adventure, the company also commits to animal welfare since it uses wool and down. It has been able to reduce its plastic use in packaging by embracing responsible packaging. The company is committed to traceability across its supply chain through its material use and social responsibility.
prAna has been around for a while, since 1992. Ever since it has been a known name in the world of outdoor staples.
One of the top points for this brand is that it organizes its collections based on particular outdoor activities. So, it’s easy for customers to view items for yoga, swimming, travel, hiking, and climbing.
If you’re looking for simple active and loungewear, you’ll also find it on the website. One of the downsides here is that some of its offerings still come in virgin synthetics. To avoid this, it’s important to carefully review each item's details as they’re clearly stated on the site.
Clothing and equipment for hiking, mountaineering, camping, backpacking, and cycling. The brand offers clothing, shoes, and accessories for women, men, and kids. Some of its items include jackets, sweaters, vests, jerseys, pants, cycling shorts, and bike shoes. You’ll also find accessories like gaiters, headgear, and gloves to support outdoor pursuits.
Vaude uses various fabrics to craft its product range and collections. Some of the brand’s go-to materials are merino wool, RDS-Certified down, wood fiber, and organic cotton. Vaude also uses recycled fabrics like recycled nylon and polyester.
Apart from its choice of materials, Vaude also incorporates eco-conscious manufacturing techniques like using Ecolor. The Ecolor dyeing procedure generates fewer greenhouse emissions and requires less energy and water. Vaude has certifications like the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), Global Recycled Standard (GRS), and ISO 14001.
If you’re specifically into bike and mountain sports, you most likely know Vaude. This German-based company provides sustainable and innovative outdoor gear and clothing for outdoor enthusiasts.
From sustainable business practices to innovative environmental preservation methods, we recognize Vaude's contributions to the sustainable outdoor clothing range.
Vaude has a range of vegan-friendly clothing in addition to its use of sustainable fabrics. The brand champions transparency in its functioning by staying committed to responsible practices through its supply chains.
Apart from presenting options for various outdoor activities, Vaude has also stated its dedication to making the world worth living in. We can see how it holds this responsibility in its product, social and environmental pursuits. The brand innovated the biodegradable fleece from wood fibers as part of its Green Shape Core Collection.
The brand’s collection also features products from recycled materials. They also create pieces using less water, fewer chemicals, and fewer carbon emissions.
Sustainable outerwear, tops, bottoms, and swimwear. Outerknown's pieces include sweatpants, tanks, jumpsuits, hiking pants, jeans, swimwear, t-shirts, and shorts.
The brand uses materials like recycled polyester, Econyl (recycled ocean plastic) for its women’s swimwear line, organic cotton, hemp, wool, and RDS-certified down. Note that the brand includes spandex, for stretch, in some of its offerings. However, you can explore clothes with either natural, recycled, or a mix of both materials.
Outerknown works with Fair Trade USA Certified factories in countries like Peru, Mexico, and China. Outerknown is also a transparent company. It reveals information about its manufacturing partners and how its factories treat workers. Its choice of fabrics and Outerworn program highlight its commitment to being a circular fashion company.
Outerknown provides a range of surf-inspired clothing for not just water-related activities but also simply when in nature. As a bluesign-approved company, Outerknown’s production process uses few chemicals. Hence, it curbs its environmental effects by reducing the number of toxic chemicals that would otherwise be used in manufacturing.
One of the most important aspects of sustainable fashion is circularity. Apart from using eco-friendly fabrics and safe production methods, making products that last is significant. This is one of the reasons we appreciate Outerknown’s efforts.
Part of its commitment is to make clothing that lasts a lifetime. Through its Outerworn section, conscious consumers can buy and sell pre-worn Outerknown clothes.
With its commitment to contributing to cleaning up the dirty aspects of the fabrics industry, Outerknown is making a difference. You’ll find various pieces in nature-inspired colors on the site that support adventures outside.
Coalatree produces apparel and accessories best for hiking and camping. Some products include sweatshirts, jackets, tops, pants, and shorts. You’ll also find camping accessories and gear like blankets and hammocks.
The company primarily uses recycled and repurposed materials to craft its offering. Some of its material choices are recycled polyester, recycled nylon, and recycled organic cotton. One of its stand-out materials is recycled coffee. Here, the company gathers recycled coffee grounds from local coffee shops and mashes them into particles. Then, it mixes the nano-sized particles with recycled plastic bottles.
Coalatree’s manufacturing facilities are certified by Fair Wear Foundation and bluesign. To reduce the impact of its clothing, it uses non-toxic, durable, water-repellent finishing and waterless dyeing for some apparel. The company partners with factories using renewables and low-impact ventilation. In terms of packaging, Coalaree prioritizes tree-friendly packaging.
Whether traveling or enjoying a hike on a bright day, there’s no doubt you need comfortable clothing. Coalatree stands out for designing, manufacturing, and proving eco-friendly you can always have on the go. From apparel to hammocks to blankets and more, Coalatree is a one-stop spot.
What's interesting about the company is that it started as a self-sustaining organic farm in Colorado. While operating the farm, they prioritized sustainable practices for farm products.
The brand hasn’t let go of that mission, moving into the clothing and accessories space. Coalatree designs its items in Salt Lake City, Utah, and partners with sustainable factories globally.
Men's and women’s clothing for hitting nature spots or just casual errands. Pieces include active and athleisure wear like jumpsuits, overalls, jackets, pants, dresses, tops, shirts, and t-shirts.
Toad&Co offers clothing in fabrics like hemp, organic cotton, TENCEL lyocell, RWS-certified wool, recycled materials, and Lenzing modal. The brand also offers collections that come in vegan materials.
We recognize the brand's commitment to a circular economy. One of its notable collaborations was with ThredUp to encourage secondhand purchases and to use clothes for longer. The company uses reusable mailers from recycled billboards for shipping. Also, it has environmental partners such as the Community Environmental Council and Environmental Defense Center.
Sometimes you just want to wear your outdoor apparel as casual outfits. Toad&Co recognized this need and went ahead to create outdoor clothing in stylish designs. These make it easy for outdoor cloth lovers to enjoy their pieces outside of rigorous activities.
Toad&Co sees sustainability as the only route, and we can tell it's not just talking but through their actions as well. The company gives customers the option to explore fabric preferences. It also prioritizes auditing its factories. One of the site's best features is that you can explore collections based on material choice.
In addition to selling items, Toad&Co impresses us with its contribution to educating people on sustainable practices. On the brand’s website, you’ll find sections like the “Repair, Don’t Replace” section. This particular one houses short posts that encourage people to use their pieces for longer rather than throw them out.
Also, they recognize the role of sustainable practices within their facilities. Toad&Co’s headquarters purchase carbon offsets in the form of Renewable Energy Certificates. They also use energy-efficient LED bulbs to reduce their overall impact.
With Toad&Co, you can enjoy your outdoor pieces as modern styles for everyday wear. The main downside lies in their sizing. Unlike brands like Patagonia, which offer a wider range, Toad&Co’s women’s items only offer up to XL from XS. The men’s range goes from S-XXL.
Outdoor activities and events often require specialized gear and apparel. As a result, the outdoor community and individuals need to pay attention to the environmental impact of the items they use.
While enjoying outdoor pursuits, like hiking and cycling, you can clothe yourself in sustainable pieces. Whether you’re on the hunt for your next go-to swimsuit or just a pair of comfortable socks, the brands here have options.
Jen’s a passionate environmentalist and sustainability expert. With a science degree from Babcock University Jen loves applying her research skills to craft editorial that connects with our global changemaker and readership audiences centered around topics including zero waste, sustainability, climate change, and biodiversity.
Elsewhere Jen’s interests include the role that future technology and data have in helping us solve some of the planet’s biggest challenges.