ISPO 2015, the outdoor industry was abuzz with the scathing report from Greenpeace wherein, as a part of their Detox campaign Greenpeace heavily criticized the outdoor industry for the extensive use of PFC’s in waterproof membranes and DWR (durable water repellent) coatings.

Whereas Greenpeace’s Detox campaign is aimed at the textile industry as a whole and focusses on eliminating all hazardous chemicals from supply chains, the cry for “eco-friendly” products is perhaps even more poignant than in other industries. Seeing as the outdoor industry’s very raison d’etre is in there being an outdoor to enjoy, where, if not in our industry should the responsibility be felt to ensure the lasting survival of that very outdoor we love so much.

Skipping to 2018: In our many contacts with outdoor brands, we have seen an ever-increasing evolution from well-meant but oftentimes vague sustainability statements to very concrete steps taken towards making outdoor gear more outdoor friendly. During this years’ ISPO, the largest European Trade fair for the outdoor industry, this was more obvious than ever. There are a few examples we would like to mention in which we can speak about concrete steps having been taken resulting in more outdoor friendly products being produced.

1. Patagonia

If anything, Patagonia has lead the way in sustainability in outdoor clothing, an has it engrained in its DNA. Their Mission: “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” One of the coolest concrete steps is the “Worn Wear” tour. It’s not only about producing high quality products that last (a sustainable thought in the first place), but in the Worn Wear way of thinking, it’s about repairing your gear so you don’t have to buy new stuff. So simple, but very true. Patagonia also has other steps they have taken (their Footprint Chronicles are fascinating), but this was one that struck me because it was so simple and so true.

2. Vaudé

The steps Vaudé has taken towards making outdoor gear more outdoor friendly were of a very different kind and focussed on materials. At ISPO they had really amazing displays of the steps they have taken and the kind of out of the box thinking they have done with suppliers towards finding alternative materials that are more outdoor friendly. And the harvest?

Wood chips that are used to produce fleece products. The Tencel fiber they use is made from wood cellulose. Not only is the source renewable, but microfibers that the product loses when you wash it for example and are dumped into the global water cycle, don’t contain micro plastics.EcoPaxx is a plastic derived from vegetable oil. Made by DSM from mainly tropical castor beans. An example of application is the use of EcoPaxx in buckles on backpacks. Left to their natural off-white there is no need for coloring.

Down that grows from trees: As an insulation material, Vaudé uses the Primaloft Silver Insulation Natural Blend. 30% of that blend is the down that can be found in the fruit pods of Kapok tree. The other 70% is from PET recycled Primaloft down.

3. Bergans of Norway

This Norwegian outdoor brand has made its mission to become completely sustainable in 2020 with the launch of its Stranda collection and especially in its collaboration with the Swedish textile coloring company WeAre SpinDye. This company works on reducing the use of water in the coloring of textile, a major issue seeing as nearly. 20% of all water pollution worldwide is related to the process of dyeing textiles (Research by the World Bank). By introducing coloring very early into the manufacturing sequence, on the level of fiber production, a lot less water and chemicals are used, and the claim is that colors will be much further lasting. The Stranda collection is a bold example of this process, jackets and pants are of exactly the same single color throughout. The down used in the jacket is partly from recycled down from Re:Down® and PrimaLoft® Gold Insulation Active+. The Primaloft Gold Insulation products are also recycled down products. The Stranda Down Hybrid Jackets received a Gold ISPO Award.

4. Haglöfs

Another Scandinavian brand who has brought a clear Eco focussed product is Haglöfs, with the Eco Proof jacket, which was awarded The ISPO Sustainability award. In this jacket waterproof and breathable jacket, Haglöfs uses a polyester laminate that is partly made from recycled fabric that can be easily recycled again. But besides that, the jacket has been designed and constructed in such a way that parts of the jacket (such as a zipper) can be easily replaced. The Eco Proof jacket is designed from a functional fashion kind of perspective with the aim of being able to be used in outdoor but will also look good in an urban setting. What I liked about the thought behind this jacket, is that on the one hand it is about material use, and on the other hand, the idea is that it can be used for a very, very long time.

5. Open Wear

We reported on Open Wear before, a Dutch company, now based in Switzerland who launched there first Open One collection of jacket and pants aimed at free-riders (be it, skiers or snowboarders). Also an ISPO prize winner, the Sympatex outer shell material is made of recycled PET (30 PET bottles go into a jacket.) and the 3-layer shell is 100% waterproof, optimally breathable, and 100% windproof. And is recyclable as well. Open Wear is a start-up, a small company and also want to contribute to a sustainable world by making the best choices in their supply chain, looking at and carefully choosing manufacturers that subscribe to their ideals and morals. Be sure to check out their site for a unique story.

These are just 5 examples that stuck out to us this past two days. This list is by no means complete, there are more brands working in their own way to take responsibility for preserving our precious outdoors. Various brands have or are eliminating PFC’s from their products, among which Gore, the producer of Gore-Tex, which is a major thing.

If anything these cases show that the outdoor industry is making steps towards ensuring outdoor gear will become more and more outdoor friendly. And like any journey worth taking, every step is the one leading to the next.

Do you have any cool examples you would like to share of outdoor-friendly outdoor gear? Be sure to leave us a message below. We’d love to hear from you and extend our list!

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