Did you know that some of the gear we use to explore the world isn’t actually good for the world? Yep, fast fashion applies to the outdoor industry too, with many brands churning out cheaply made products with no regard for the environment or garment workers.
But not all of them (phewf!). There are eco-conscious brands doing their best (biner by biner, tent by tent) to challenge the mainstream and offer an ethical adventure alternative. Of course, it’s always more sustainable to buy outdoor gear second-hand (or to repurpose items you already have!), but that isn’t always possible.
For Evan, the founder of Terra Rosa Gear, making gear that’s better for people and planet is at the core of what he does. “So many things are made as cheaply as possible with shocking working conditions overseas,” Evan says. “For me, good quality and the ethics behind an item’s production should always top the list before buying.”
Evan has been producing gear (for everything from the Antarctica Division to Ambulance Victoria) with the help of his rescue greyhound Goldie out of his Melbourne workshop for the past 13 years. He taught himself to sew so that he could create custom, small footprint, high quality pieces designed to last. After all, “quality materials make all the difference for hardy adventure gear”.
If you’re getting away for the week/weekend/month, here’s everything you’ll need to make sure your kit is ‘good’:
1. Patagonia outer layers
Not only is Patagonia a certified B-Corp, but they actively, and genuinely, care about the environment. They were even named a UN Champion of the Earth in 2019 – the UN’s top environmental honour.
Their famous fleece jumpers are not only moisture-wicking and cosy as heck (perfect for a night around the fire), they’re also made with 100% recycled polyester fleece and are certifiably Fair Trade sewn. Patagonia started making recycled polyester from plastic bottles in the mid-1990s, and now creates polyester fibres using manufacturing waste and old clothes (including their own). While it’s not a silver bullet, using recycled materials reduces the company’s emissions and keeps more waste out of landfill.
2. Klean Kanteen drink bottle
Another B Corp, Klean Kanteen is all about keeping us hydrated without the plastic. Klean Kanteen offset their electricity use with renewable energy credits, use recycled packaging materials and give money to environmental causes as a dedicated partner of 1% for the Planet. They also just announced that, starting in 2022, they’ll use 90% post-consumer recycled stainless steel.
3. Terra Rosa sleeping bag
Ask Evan what piece of gear he’s most excited about right now and he’ll tell you it’s the “Terra Rosa Synbag3”. There’s nothing more important that a good sleeping bag when you’re braving the elements and the SynBag is a centre-zipped, hooded, relaxed mummy piece of perfection. Perfect for both warmer nights and cooler mornings, this piece of gear has been meticulously concepted and crafted by Evan. So you know it’s quality.
4. Kathmandu tent
Founded in New Zealand and local to Australia, Kathmandu is another B Corp, and are well on their way to being zero waste and smashing their 2025 sustainability goals. They’ve got a selection of vegan clothing and eco-friendly technical gear, and a huge range of tents – from a lightweight solo hiking number to the palatial, family-sized camp tent. Tested in the field and made with all the bits and bobs you want and need, there’s a tent to suit your adventure style.
5. Woolerina thermals
Here in Australia, temperatures can be pretty turbulent, so it’s good to have a pair of thermals handy on any outdoor adventure. If you’re looking for a local, ethical supplier, Woolerina is your one-stop-shop for beautifully soft hiking staples. Made using merino from non-mulesed sheep that are kept in excellent living conditions, Woolerina is also certified by Ethical Clothing Australia.
6. Cotopaxi backpack
The Cotopaxi tagline is ‘Gear for Good’, which should say enough about the company purpose. From its founding, Cotopaxi was founded on the idea that profit, people and the planet all ought to enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship. A certified B Corp, the company not only makes excellent day and hiking packs but they donate 1% of yearly revenue into programs designed to end poverty and find sustainable solutions. They also put out a limited-edition gear collection called Repurposed, made entirely out of product scraps.
7. The Common Good Co. beanies
Keep your noggin warm in nature with an ethical beanie from Melbourne-based The Common Good Co. TCGOCo stick by ethical practises to manufacture their beanies “in the benefits or interests of all”. Made using Repreve Yarn, spun from 100% recycled water-bottles, you can look good, feel good and do good in these headwarmers.
Inspired to get outdoors? Go forth, sustainably!