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The best sustainable outdoor gear for Earth Day and beyond

Earth Day encourages everyone to get outside and do something positive for the environment. You can clean up the trash on a highly-trafficked hiking trail or lead an activity to educate people on the beauty and fragility of nature. Don’t stop there — take the next step by choosing only sustainable gear for your outdoor adventures. Here we highlight clothing, sleeping bags and more from outdoor companies that are looking beyond their profit margins and focusing on making products that are designed with sustainability in mind.

Big Agnes Lost Dog 15 Sleeping Bag

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Big Agnes isn’t the first name you think of when it comes to sustainability, but it should be there at the top. For more than a decade, the Colorado-based company has been making products that use recycled fabrics and sustainable manufacturing processes. The company’s latest sleeping bag, the Lost Dog 15, continues this trend with its FireLine ECO synthetic insulation. The FireLine ECO insulation uses 100% post-consumer recycled polyester with a loft and compressibility that rivals down.

Columbia OutDry Ex Eco Rain Jacket

Columbia lands on our list for its OutDry Ex Eco rain jacket. The company’s first high-performance and environmentally-friendly rain jacket earns high praise for not sacrificing quality with its eco-friendly construction. The coat is made with a 100 percent recycled fabric derived from 21 recycled plastic bottles. The dye-free material has no PFCs and saves over 13 gallons of water during manufacturing. Best of all, it keeps you dry when you need it the most.

prAna Men’s Merger Shirt

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From the fabrics in its clothing to the processes used for dyeing, prAna is dedicated to reducing its impact on the environment. Most of its clothing line uses organic cotton, hemp, and recycled materials. The men’s Merger shirt shows sustainability can be stylish by combining a woven blend of hemp and recycled polyester with a slim, flattering fit.

Patagonia Women’s Baggies Shorts

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Patagonia’s commitment to sustainability runs deep. In almost every facet of its business, the company is dedicated to limiting its impact on the environment and promoting fair labor practices. No matter what item you buy, you can’t go wrong with Patagonia. For this list, we chose the company’s Baggies shorts which have been a customer favorite for years because of the relaxed fit and classic design. The shorts are made from 100 percent recycled nylon and are Bluesign approved, the gold standard for sustainable textile production.

Costa Pescador Untangled Sunglasses

Costa launched its Kick Plastic initiative to curb the escalating use of plastic and the ensuing waste that this consumption produces. To cut down on plastic, Costa started using a bio-resin material that is derived from the seeds of the castor plant in their frames. The company’s latest Untangled collection goes one step further by using recycled fishing nets in its frames. Costa collaborated with Bureo, a company that turns Chilean fishing nets into moldable plastic pellets. Almost every component in its Untangled sunglasses — from the packaging to the nose pads– are recycled material, can be recycled, or both.

Mountain Hardwear Lamina Eco AF

Mountain Hardwear’s Lamina sleeping bags have been a staple in the company’s sleeping bag lineup for years. This year, the tried and true sleeping bag has received an eco-friendly overhaul. The new Lamina Eco AF sleeping bag uses recycled fabric on the outside and recycled insulation on the inside for warmth. Even the trim, zipper parts, storage bag, and compression sack are made from recyclable material. To further reduce its environmental impact, the bag is undyed, saving up to 80 liters of precious water typically used in the dying process.

Cotopaxi Tarak Del Día 20L Backpack

Cotopaxi’s motto is “gear for good,” and the company’s Tarak Del Día backpack is no exception. The 20L day pack is part of the company’s Del Dia series that upcycles remnant materials. These remnants are used to produce one-of-a-kind bags designed by the company’s creative workforce. Each employee working on a Del Dia pack is allowed to choose their own combination of leftover fabrics, so no two bags are alike.

Icebreaker Cool-Lite Sphere Short Sleeve Shirt

Icebreaker produces wool clothing with a focus on using natural fibers that are humanely and sustainably sourced. Of all the fabric it uses across its clothing line, 84 percent is natural fiber and only 16 percent is manmade. Icebreaker’s Cool-Lite Sphere short sleeve crew is the epitome of this philosophy. The lightweight, wicking performance shirt is a blend of two natural fibers — merino wool and Tencel, a wood fiber made from sustainable eucalyptus. It has a minimal amount of nylon (13 percent) to give it some stretch.

Oboz Sawtooth II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot

Since its beginning in 2007, Oboz has stood for the environment by planting a tree for each boot it sells. Over the years, the company has planted more than 2 million trees and that number is still growing. Oboz makes some of our favorite hiking boots thanks to the company’s commitment to quality. Not only do the boots keep your feet comfortable and dry on the trail, but they also last for years. Oboz’s latest flagship boot is the Sawtooth II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot, an upgraded version of the company’s best-selling boot.

REI Co-op Trail Hydro 20L Hydration Pack

When it comes to environmental stewardship, REI walks the walk. The company gives back more than 70% of its profits to encourage people to get outside and enjoy nature. It also requires brands to meet a minimum sustainability standard and makes it easy for shoppers to find products that use recycled and eco-friendly materials. This high standard applies not only to the brands it sells but also to its own products. The company aims to be 100 % Bluesign certified and is making progress towards that goal. It takes little steps like those evident in the new Trail Hydro 20L Hydration Pack. Instead of using only off-the-shelf ripstop nylon, this rock-solid day pack is made with a combination of nylon and recycled nylon.

Editors' Recommendations

Kelly Hodgkins
Kelly's been writing online for ten years, working at Gizmodo, TUAW, and BGR among others. Living near the White Mountains of…
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