Outdoors GenerationsOutdoors Generations

15 Sustainable Outdoor Clothing Brands to Buy From

Last Updated: November 3, 2022
Close-up on intermediate climber tying her shoelace

We often go out to fight for our environment in the more obvious ways of not throwing plastic straws in the ocean, driving less, eating less meat, or whatever it may be. It’s so easy to forget about the clothes on our backs and the impact that they can have as well. Every time a polyester shirt is washed, microplastics wash away with it and straight into the ocean. But how are we to know that? 

One major step that we can all take is to choose brands and designs that are representatives of sustainable outdoor clothing. This can mean using sustainable materials or having fair trade production practices. Whatever it may be, there are certain ethical outdoor clothing brands that deserve our love and business. To help figure out how to make our own eco-friendly outdoor clothing choices, we’ll look at what exactly goes into this. 

Luckily, sustainable outdoor clothing doesn't mean sacrificing durability and quality. Sustainable outdoor brands have found ways to make sustainable outdoor gear with fair labor practices and renewable energy that still performs.

Key Takeaways
  • Consumers are demanding more environmentally friendly products, and companies are scrambling to meet those demands.
  • Many outdoor clothing brands are implementing sustainable practices into their operations, but some do it better than others.
  • Certified B Corporations are one way to ensure that a company is practicing high environmental and social standards.
  • One percent for the planet is another organization that helps fund diverse environmental organizations.

How do we distinguish an environmentally good brand from the bad?

On the surface, a lot of outdoor clothing brands look the same. Some are more fashionable or more functional, but there’s more than meets the eye when you start looking at the sustainability factor. These behind-the-scene qualities play a big part in the outdoor clothing process, but easily go overlooked. 


At the beginning of the line for sustainable outdoor clothing brands is the production. The decisions an outdoor clothing brand makes here can have a huge influence on whether or not they can be considered one of the best sustainable outdoor clothing brands. 

The material that your clothes are made from is one of the primary causes of environmental harm. For example, synthetic materials, while loved by outdoorsy people for their breathability and quick-drying qualities, can be detrimental to the environment. Synthetic materials are essentially plastics made into clothing, which leads to off-put of dangerous gases and high consumption of resources. 

One way to get around this is to look for companies that use sustainable sources for organic cotton, hemp, merino wool, or even recycled polyester to make their eco-friendly outdoor clothing. Granted, these can often be done in non-sustainable ways, but there’s a much better chance that you are reducing your footprint by taking this one factor into consideration. 


Lower production costs can be a huge temptation for outdoor clothing brands to outsource their production to other countries. Depending on what country the clothes are made in, there are different rules and regulations surrounding sustainability. In a lot of these other countries, fast fashion is chosen over comfortable working conditions, fair pay, and a low carbon footprint. 

Not only do the laws change as you bounce from country to country, but your shipping will also need to be taken into consideration. The movement of the clothes from somewhere like China or Taiwan to somewhere like Salt Lake City will require a huge cargo ship to bring it overseas. These demands on shipping are having detrimental impacts on our world’s climate. Buying as close to home as possible is always the most eco-friendly option. 

Stylish outdoor clothing often comes from afar, rather than focusing on the eco-friendly brands in our own backyard. True eco-friendly outdoor gear needs to be locally sourced to cut down the movement within the supply chain. The shorter the supply chain, the less impact, and thus, the more of an ethical outdoor clothing brand.


Some of these fast fashion clothes, unfortunately even those that are made for the outdoors, can deteriorate quickly. The faster your clothes start to wear down and get shredded, the sooner you need to buy another jacket, sweater, pair of pants, etc. Recycled fabrics and natural materials get a bad reputation for durability. People believe that sustainable fabrics aren't as durable as their non-eco-friendly counterparts.

The truth is, recycled fabrics often have a higher level of durability because they are then built to last longer.

Some brands have a short lifespan incorporated into their design, especially cheaper brands. On the other hand, some brands encourage buying only used clothes and never buying their clothes new unless it’s necessary (shoutout to Patagonia). 


How you manage your clothes when they’re too old to be used anymore also determines their sustainability. In theory, the only true sustainable clothing is what you find at a used clothing store, but that’s not always an option. 

Think about how you can repurpose clothes. Try your hand at making mittens out of an old woolen sweater or turning your old fleece jacket into a vest for your dog. Reuse what you have rather than pitch it the moment you deem it no longer useful. 

Not only are we creating waste, but we're also forgetting about the waste that could be used. For example, Coalatree uses recycled coffee grounds from local coffee shops rather than raw materials shipped from halfway across the world. This outdoor brand is one example of how a circular economy can improve sustainable fashion.


Unfortunately, in today’s age, we need to be on the lookout for claims that are too good to be true. Greenwashing is one form of how a company reaches to push their product to the top of the game by claiming they are “greener than the rest”. It’s important to watch out for these brands to not get sucked into the wrong market. 

Transparency: Be on the lookout for brands that make it hard to learn more about their environmental ethics. Chances are if it’s just barely mentioned, there’s not much to the claim.

Facts and figures: Do your best to find the statistics that prove they are a sustainable outdoor clothing brand. If they claim all of their cotton are sourced organically, but only make polyester clothing, there’s something fishy happening. There are a few key things to look for here, especially in the composition and sourcing of raw materials.

Track record: Maybe the company is well-known for supporting non-profits that push for environmental health, or maybe the company has taken part in a multitude of environmental scandals in the past. This isn’t the kind of information they will offer free on their website, and you need to dig a little deeper to find out. 

Be discerning: Overall, just question what you’re being told. Even here, question if what I am writing is true. Reach out and ask for more information and do your own research. Maybe other brands are saying they fight to stop climate change, but don't provide fair wages inside of those eco-friendly factories they claim to have. Then you're just getting eco-friendly fabrics at the price of the workers. Ethical outdoor brands use eco-friendly fabrics, renewable energy, and a fair manufacturing process for all involved.

The 15 Best Eco-Friendly Outdoor Clothing Companies

1) Patagonia

Patagonia tops the list of most eco-friendly outdoor brands regularly and it’s a well-deserved spot. Patagonia doesn’t just create sustainable and eco-friendly gear, sell their products second-hand, and repair their gear for cheap. Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia, has purchased and saved thousands upon thousands of acres of forest in Patagonia alongside the late Douglas Tompkins, founder of The North Face. 

Patagonia encourages its customers to buy less and rather to reduce, repair, and reuse their clothing. They feature the statement, “Reduce what you buy.” While this doesn’t often push fraternity brothers away from buying Patagonia vests, it’s a major statement that proves their devotion to the environment. 

2) Toad&Co

Toad & Co is another brand that is well-known for being ethical, ever since its start. They use a huge number of recycled materials, send their gear out in reusable packaging, and often upcycle their old products that would normally get tossed. This eco-friendly outdoor clothing does a great job of holding up to the elements and helping you stay protected. 

This business is strongly aligned with environmental ethics, and it shows. If you’re looking to support a brand while getting some functional and fashionable clothes, Toad & Co should be near the top of your list. 

3) Cotopaxi

A Certified B Corporation is one that balances purpose and profit. They put themselves at legal risk if they fail to consider their impact on the environment, their workers, and all aspects of a business. Along with Patagonia, Cotopaxi subscribes to this model of business. 

Cotopaxi used a mix of recycled and eco-friendly materials to bring high-quality products to the shelves. They also set aside a huge portion of their profits to fund sustainable poverty relief organizations. 

4) prAna

PrAna makes some of the most eco-friendly and sustainable outdoor clothing you can find. Their website features that they are “clothing for positive change”, including it immediately under their banner name. They were, after all, the first North American company to bring Fair Trade Certified apparel to the market. 

This is a business that takes its environmental and social justice seriously. They fight for fair trade, circulation, sustainable materials, climate action, and so much more. From the fibers they weave their incredibly comfortable and versatile (to throw in my own weighted bias) clothing to the packaging they deliver it in, everything is done for the betterment of the whole.  

5) Kathmandu

Another Certified B Corporation is Kathmandu. Named after the capital of Nepal, home base to some of the most serious mountaineering in the entire world, this brand upholds high environmental standards and fair trade action in every step they take. 

Their clothes are made entirely of organic cotton and recycled polyester, and they power all of their warehouses with solar. If there’s more that they can do, give them a call and let them know your ideas. 

6) Fjallraven

“For us, nature is everything.” Fjallraven is a brand that speaks highly about its connection with nature and everyone’s love for it. Their Head of Sustainability has repeatedly won awards for being the best at her job. She ensures that Fjallraven falls at the top of the 1,400-competitor-long list of most sustainable clothing and fashion brands. 

Fjallraven puts a huge emphasis on making products that last forever. Durability and timelessness are their top priority, so you don’t need to keep coming back and buying more and more. 

7) Wild Rye

Wild Rye specializes in making women’s outdoor apparel, specifically for mountain biking. They use Bluesign certified fabrics and recycles materials in much of their apparel design. They also boast a high commitment to environmental and animal welfare, earning them another much-deserved spot on our list. 

8) Tentree

For this brand, it’s in the name. As of today, they have planted 67,039,886 trees across six different forest types in the world. This is the biggest draw of the company. They plant ten trees for every purchase that’s made. Their mission says, “Everything we do stems from how to do better by our planet”. It's amazing that selling outdoor clothing has turned into forests being planted globally.

Everything this company does is focused on trying to make less of an impact. They use 75% less water to create a sweatshirt than any other brand, so their production and supply chain is incredibly well-developed and impressive. Tentree hopes to get to one billion trees by 2030, so go on and put your impact down, and receive some incredibly comfortable clothes. 

9) Picture Organic

Picture Organic started with the idea of becoming a wholly sustainable outdoor clothing brand. That’s been their goal since day one. They put a huge amount of focus on reducing impact by increasing the recycling and durability of their outdoor clothing products.

They pay close attention to the source materials that use a low level of fossil fuels, mainly shooting for a complete wipeout of fossil fuel use. They use sugarcane waste, rather than polyester in 60% of their outerwear. It might not taste like a cake, but it’s a real sweet treat for the environment. 

10) Team Timbuktu

Here’s an Aussie brand that doesn’t often make its way to North American shelves, but it should. Team Timbuktu makes some impressive waterproof layers by using recycled plastic bottles. Yes, your old coke bottle that made its way to the recycling bin, or the dump, can turn into a waterproof jacket. It only takes about 31 bottles to make a single jacket.

11) Coalatree

Coalatree boasts its eco-friendly products and loves to talk about how sustainable they are. It’s much more rooted in pride than ego, and everything they do comes back to how they can be more sustainable. They use recycled materials, waterless dye, and are working towards zero-emission factories. 

When I talk about recycled materials, people often think about plastics or other fabrics. While this is true, Coalatree uses a combination of plastic bottles and coffee grounds. Yes, coffee. The grounds that a lot of coffee shops typically toss out are now becoming the main ingredient in the clothing and other products that this brand offers. It's a really cool idea to think you can forego organic cotton and choose the most eco-friendly of all eco-friendly materials in your outdoor clothing. Does it get better than recycled bottles and coffee?

12) REI

REI, the leader of OptOutside on Black Friday, is another company well-known for its sustainability practices. Their garage sale promotes a huge interest in second-hand gear and their products are made with sustainable and ethical practices. Their goal is to help people connect to nature and provide both the education and gear needed to do that. 

13) Save the Duck

Save the Duck is an Italian-based company that puts a large focus on animal welfare. They use 100% animal-free products alongside other sustainable development practices. They’ve joined the list of other Certified B Corporations and won awards from popular groups like PETA for their high-performance gear that is made without the use of animals. 

14) Icebreaker

Icebreaker makes some of the most comfortable, and semi-affordable, merino wool clothes on the market. They’ve made it their organizational goal to be completely plastic-free by 2023. That’s coming up fast, so we’ll see soon how it goes. They are moving towards using zero elastane and have removed a load of polyester lines that were once making their company a huge profit. That’s some serious commitment. 

15) Outerknown

Outerknown was created by lovers of the outdoors in order to give more of that love back. They moved over to making sustainable outdoor clothing because it was so hard to find.

90% of the fibers sourced are organic, recycled, or regenerated. 100% of their swim trunks are made from recycled or renewable fibers. By partnering with Fair Trade USA they can help improve the livelihoods of over 5,000 workers. Lastly, but certainly not least, Outerknown guarantees their products for life. They’ll repair anything in order to keep the clothes out of the landfill. 

Terms to Know

Sustainable Fabrics

Sustainable fabrics are those that are either recycled, organic, reusable, or simply ethical. We’re talking about using products like organic cotton, recycled polyester, hemp, or even coffee grounds and plastic bottles. Many kinds of cotton and polyester fabrics come from highly toxic factories that are pumping exhaust into the atmosphere, as well as forgetting to care for their employees. 

Materials like merino wool that come from a self-sustaining organic farm are about as sustainable as you can get. These eco-friendly fabrics are incredible when you're looking for performance and comfort. Sustainable outdoor clothing brands use eco-friendly materials like this. Merino wool and organic cotton are used so often in sustainable outdoor clothing because it is often produced with fair labor practices and a supply chain that doesn't create any environmental, human, or animal harm.

When you’re shopping around, make sure that sustainable fabric makes up the majority of the fabric. Some fabrics you see will be 10% recycled polyester and 90% elastane or silk, or something that wasn’t produced sustainably. This is the greenwashing practice that we covered earlier on. Unfortunately, it happens, and companies are out there to just try and make money. 

Recycled Fabrics

Recycled fabrics are a really cool concept, especially as you look into recycling or repurposing things that you never thought could be fabric. If you had asked me to make a shirt out of sugar, I would have assumed it would melt and I would be a sticky bear-attractant walking around the woods. 

On the same note, wearing a shirt made from plastic water bottles doesn’t actually feel like a water bottle at all. They’re shockingly comfortable, and it’s pretty cool to say that you’re wearing a water bottle. 

They've found ways to recycle just about anything these days. The used gear turns into recycled synthetics, recycled nylon, recycled cashmere, or other casual wear can be brought into the process. You get the feeling of organic linen, all while fighting climate change.


Bluesign provides a framework for producing textiles (fancy word for fabric) that are sustainably and ethically produced. They track the production and sourcing of the materials all the way back and check every single step for errors. The companies that are Bluesign certified or Bluesign affiliated have been thoroughly checked by this company to ensure that they are providing sustainable materials in their clothing. 

Outdoor companies partner with Bluesign to get the certification. This is a good way to check on the truth of the company’s claim. If they are back by someone like this, it’s likely they’re speaking the truth. It’s why companies like this exist. 

Fair Trade Certified Factories

Fair Trade Certification is given to companies that put thought into every aspect of their business model. The Fair Trade group works to protect waterways and give money back to the farmers of all the materials that are being produced. The idea is that these farmers can sell their products for what they are worth. That money goes back and is invested in the community, preventing poverty, and helping the families. 

This is another stamp that shows that you are supporting a company that cares about their product’s impact rather than saving a few extra bucks in the process. The fair labor association is getting bigger and bigger, so it's even easier to find a clothing company you like that practices it.

Certified B Corporations

Balancing profit and purpose is the main goal of Certified B Corporations. This is achieved through holding these companies to high environmental and social performance. There are over 4,200 Certified B Corporations worldwide, and not a lot of them are involved in the fashion industry. 

Sustainable outdoor clothing brands that make it to this level are to be taken seriously when you’re considering buying a new piece of clothing or gear. 

1% for the planet 

1% for the Planet is another brainchild of Patagonia’s founder, Yvon Chouinard. He states that its purpose is to help fund diverse environmental organizations so they can perform better as a group, rather than individually. It’s all under the idea that companies profit from the natural resources they take from the earth, so they should work to protect those resources. 

Members of this group are connected to high-level non-profit organizations that are doing phenomenal environmental work. This adds to the brand story and keeps them accountable for what they are using. 

Wear it Right, and Save the World

Choosing the best sustainable outdoor clothing to fill your closet is one of the better moves you can make towards creating your own impact on the world. This is a great way to lower your footprint and show the world your love. There are a lot of different brands out there that are doing fantastic work to save the planet, but they need people like us to continue supporting them.

Do your research before you buy. Save the world without even making a huge shift in how you act or dress. Wear some old coffee beans or organic cotton, and know that you're making the right move.

Sustainable Outdoor Clothing FAQs

Here are our answers to your most commonly asked questions about sustainable outdoor clothing brands:

What Is Similar to Patagonia?

Patagonia is a brand that stands out amongst the rest. If you are looking for any brands that are similar to Patagonia, there aren’t many that live up to the task. Cotopaxi and prAna are two of the most eco-friendly brands out there that still make gear that is top of the line. They can be found right next to Patagonia in most stores, and may be a better choice for certain products.

Is Cotopaxi Ethical?

Cotopaxi subscribes to an incredibly ethical business model. They are a Certified B Corporation, meaning they are legally bound to making ethical decisions. They use a high mix of recycled and eco-friendly materials without sacrificing quality. Not only do they make great products, they support many poverty relief organizations. So, yes, Cotopaxi is incredibly ethical.

Ian Standard is an outdoor educator and wilderness guide based in Anchorage, Alaska. Most recently, he worked part-time at Alaska Crossings, a wilderness program for at-risk youth, and is currently studying for a Master of Science in Outdoor & Environmental Education at Alaska Pacific University.
About Outdoors Generations
We are a family-run site with a team of outdoor experts who strives to inspire and motivate people of all ages to venture outside with confidence.
A little more about us.
Logo Outdoors Generations
We want to make Hiking, Camping, and Backpacking more enjoyable for people of all ages, inspiring and motivating others to venture outside with confidence.
As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.
© 2024 Outdoors Generations
Privacy Policy