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A Guide to Sustainable Hiking Gear

A Guide to Sustainable Hiking Gear

Hiking provides countless benefits for both physical and mental health. However, as we enjoy nature, it is important to consider the environmental impact of our equipment. This guide will provide an in-depth look at sustainable hiking gear, its importance, and tips for maintenance. We will also discuss key elements to look for when purchasing eco-friendly gear, and answer frequently asked questions.

Importance of Sustainable Hiking Gear

Sustainable hiking gear refers to equipment that is produced with materials designed to have a minimal impact on the environment. It also includes products that are designed to have a long lifespan, reducing the amount of waste produced.

Using sustainable hiking gear can help reduce our impact on the environment while still allowing us to enjoy the benefits of hiking. Not only that, but shopping sustainably also supports ethical manufacturers and promotes responsible consumerism.

Reducing Environmental Impact

One of the key benefits of using sustainable hiking gear is that it helps reduce our impact on the environment. Traditional hiking gear is often made from materials that are not biodegradable and can take hundreds of years to decompose. In addition, the production process for these materials usually involves harmful chemicals and uses a lot of energy.

Sustainable hiking gear, on the other hand, is made from eco-friendly materials like recycled plastic, organic cotton, merino wool and bamboo. These materials are biodegradable and have a minimal impact on the environment.

In addition, sustainable hiking gear often comes with features that help reduce our impact while hiking. For example, some water bottles are designed to filter water from natural sources, reducing the need for disposable plastic bottles.

Supporting Ethical Manufacturers

Choosing sustainable hiking gear also supports ethical manufacturers. These companies often have a commitment to fair labor practices, ensuring that their workers are paid fairly and work in safe conditions.

Many sustainable hiking gear companies also have a focus on giving back to their communities and the environment. For example, they may donate a portion of their profits to environmental causes or participate in cleanup efforts. Supporting these companies helps promote fair business practices and encourages other companies to follow suit.

Ensuring Longevity and Durability

Sustainable hiking gear is designed to last longer than traditional gear. This is because it's made from high-quality materials that are designed to withstand the wear and tear of outdoor activities.

By using durable gear, we can reduce the amount of waste we produce. Traditional hiking gear is often replaced every few years due to wear and tear, which means that more waste is produced. Investing in sustainable hiking gear is a long-term strategy that not only reduces waste but also saves money in the long run.

Promoting Responsible Consumerism

Finally, using sustainable hiking gear promotes responsible consumerism. As consumers, we have the power to make choices that have an impact on the environment and society as a whole.

By choosing sustainable hiking gear, we're sending a message to companies that we care about the environment and expect them to do the same. This encourages companies to improve their sustainability practices and reduce their impact on the environment. It also encourages us to be more mindful consumers. We start to think more carefully about the products we purchase, considering their impact on the environment and society.

Key Elements to Look for in Sustainable Hiking Gear

Hiking is a popular outdoor activity enjoyed by millions of people worldwide. While hiking is a great way to explore nature and stay active, it's important to do so in an environmentally sustainable way. Below are some key elements to look for in sustainable hiking gear.

Eco-friendly Materials

One of the most important things to consider when shopping for sustainable hiking gear is the materials used to make the products. Eco-friendly materials are those that have a minimal impact on the environment. Look for items made from materials such as bamboo, organic cotton, hemp, recycled polyester, or other natural or recycled fibers. These materials are not only sustainable, but they are often more durable and comfortable to wear than traditional synthetic materials.

Recycled or Upcycled Materials

Recycled or upcycled materials are an excellent eco-friendly option. These materials reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills and the production of new materials. Upcycling is the process of taking waste materials and turning them into something new of higher value. This can be seen in products like backpacks or jackets made from recycled plastic bottles or tents made from upcycled materials like sails or billboards.

Natural or Organic Fibers

Natural or organic fibers are a more sustainable option when it comes to clothing and gear for hiking. Organic fibers are grown without the use of harmful pesticides or fertilizers, reducing the environmental impact of the manufacturing process. They are also often more comfortable to wear and provide better temperature regulation than synthetic fibers.

Sustainability Certifications

Another important factor to consider when shopping for sustainable hiking gear is sustainability certifications. These certifications verify that a product is made in an environmentally friendly way and meets specific standards for sustainability. Some popular certifications for hiking gear include Bluesign, Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), and Fair Trade Certified.

Fair Trade Certifications

Fair trade certifications ensure that workers involved in the production of a product are treated fairly and are paid a living wage. Look for items with fair trade certification to support ethical business practices and create a positive impact on workers’ lives. Some companies also offer gear made through community-based projects, allowing artisans to showcase their skills and make a living for their families.

Environmentally Friendly Production Standards

Environmentally friendly production standards refer to the measures taken to reduce the environmental impact of the manufacturing process. Look for products made by companies that use renewable energy, conservation practices, and water conservation methods. Some companies even take steps to offset their carbon footprint with clean energy initiatives or planting trees to reduce atmospheric carbon.

Ethical Business Practices

Supporting products made through ethical business practices is one way to ensure that hiking gear is sustainable. This means selecting products made from companies that respect human rights, including fair labor conditions, and use environmentally responsible production methods.

Fair Labor Conditions

Products made through fair labor conditions ensure that the manufacturing process is free from exploitation and underpayment of workers. Look for companies that support fair labor practices, especially companies with third-party certifications or participate in social audit programs.

Support for Local Communities

Buying sustainable hiking gear also means supporting companies that contribute positively to local communities. Some companies work with artisans or small businesses within hiking regions, thus creating job opportunities that maintain the local economies and traditional craftmanship.

Tips for Maintaining and Caring for Sustainable Hiking Gear

Hiking gear can last a long time if it’s well-maintained and cared for properly. Not only does this save you money in the long run, but it also contributes to sustainability by reducing the amount of waste that ends up in landfills. Here are some tips for taking care of your hiking gear:

  1. Store your gear properly: When not in use, store your gear in a cool, dry place. Keep it away from direct sunlight, which can damage fabrics and materials over time.
  2. Clean your gear after each use: Dirt and debris can build up on your gear after a hike, which can cause damage and wear over time. Gently clean your gear with mild soap and water, and let it air dry completely before storing.
  3. Avoid over-washing: While it’s important to clean your gear, over-washing can actually cause damage by wearing down materials and waterproof coatings. Only wash your gear when necessary, and follow manufacturer instructions for best results.
  4. Check for damage regularly: Check your gear for signs of wear and tear, such as frayed seams or holes in fabrics. Address any damage immediately to prevent it from getting worse and potentially becoming irreparable.
  5. Re-waterproof when needed: Over time, waterproof coatings on jackets and other gear can wear down, causing them to lose their effectiveness. Reapply waterproofing spray or wax as needed to keep your gear functioning properly.

Repairing and Reusing Gear

When your hiking gear does become damaged, it’s important to try and repair it before considering replacement. Not only does this save you money, but it’s also better for the environment. Here are some tips for repairing and reusing gear:

  1. Learn basic repair skills: Being able to sew a button or patch a hole is a valuable skill for any hiker to have. Consider taking a sewing or repair class to learn the basics.
  2. Use gear repair services: Many outdoor gear companies offer repair services for their products. Take advantage of these services before considering buying new gear.
  3. Repurpose old gear: If your old gear is beyond repair, consider repurposing it. An old backpack, for example, can be turned into a camping pillow or a reusable grocery bag.

Proper Cleaning Techniques

Cleaning your hiking gear is important not only for keeping it functioning properly, but also for preventing odors and bacteria build-up. However, using the wrong cleaning techniques can actually cause damage to your gear. Here are some proper cleaning techniques for your hiking gear:

  1. Follow manufacturer instructions: Every piece of gear is different, and manufacturers often have specific instructions for cleaning their products. Be sure to follow these instructions for best results.
  2. Use mild soap: Harsh chemicals can damage fabrics and waterproof coatings, so opt for a gentle soap instead. Look for a product that is biodegradable and environmentally friendly.
  3. Hand wash when possible: Machine washing can be harsh on gear, so try to hand wash when possible. Use a bathtub or large sink to fill with water and soap, then gently wash the items by hand.
  4. Dry carefully: Avoid putting your gear in the dryer, which can damage fabrics and materials. Instead, let your gear air dry completely in a shaded area.

Responsible Disposal and Recycling

When it comes time to say goodbye to your hiking gear, it’s important to dispose of it responsibly. Here are some tips for responsible disposal and recycling of hiking gear:

  1. Donate to thrift stores: If your gear is still in good condition, consider donating it to a thrift store or charity. This gives it a new life with someone who can use it.
  2. Recycle when possible: Many materials used in hiking gear, such as polyester and nylon, are recyclable. Contact your local recycling center to see if they accept these materials.
  3. Look for takeback programs: Some outdoor gear companies have takeback programs, where you can send in your used gear to be recycled or repurposed by the manufacturer.

Making the Switch to Sustainable Hiking Gear

If you’re in the market for new hiking gear, consider making the switch to sustainable options. These are items made from eco-friendly materials and manufacturing techniques, which reduces their environmental impact. Here are some examples of sustainable hiking gear:

  1. Recycled polyester clothing and gear: Many outdoor clothing companies now offer products made from recycled polyester. This material is created from post-consumer waste, such as plastic bottles, and reduces the amount of waste in landfills.
  2. Organic cotton clothing: Organic cotton is grown without the use of harmful pesticides or fertilizers, making it a more sustainable option for outdoor clothing.
  3. Biodegradable camping supplies: Look for camping supplies, such as utensils and plates, made from biodegradable materials such as bamboo. This reduces waste and lessens your impact on the environment.

Other ways you can make your time outside more sustainable

Reducing your impact on the environment doesn’t stop at your gear choices. There are many other ways you can make your time outside more sustainable:

  1. Follow Leave No Trace principles: This means packing out all trash, minimizing campfire impact, and respecting wildlife. Leave the environment the way you found it.
  2. Reduce driving: Carpool with friends, use public transportation, or consider biking or walking to your outdoor destination to reduce emissions.
  3. Choose sustainable foods: Opt for food choices that have a lower impact on the environment, such as plant-based options or locally sourced produce.
  4. Support sustainable companies: Look for outdoor gear and clothing companies that prioritize sustainability in their manufacturing and business practices.

Incorporating these sustainable practices into your outdoor adventures can help reduce your impact on the environment and preserve our natural spaces for future generations to enjoy.

About Stio

Stio connects you with the outdoors through quality products infused with a mountain soul. Proudly operating from Jackson Hole, WY, we take inspiration from our natural surroundings and put it into every piece of apparel we make. From technical performance to aesthetics, Stio outfits you with exceptional products for unforgettable outdoor experiences.

FAQs

What is sustainable hiking gear?

Sustainable hiking gear is gear that is designed and produced in a way that minimizes its negative impact on the environment. This type of gear is made from sustainable materials, produced using sustainable practices, and can be used for a long period of time without needing to be replaced.

What are some examples of sustainable hiking gear?

There are many different types of sustainable hiking gear available, including:

  • Hiking boots made from recycled materials
  • Backpacks made from organic cotton or sustainable synthetic materials
  • Tents made from recycled or sustainably sourced materials
  • Water bottles made from stainless steel or recycled plastic
  • Hiking socks made from organic cotton or bamboo
  • Reusable food containers and utensils

These are just a few examples, and there are many other types of sustainable hiking gear available on the market.

Why is sustainable hiking gear important?

Sustainable hiking gear is important for a few different reasons:

  • Minimizes negative impact on the environment: By using sustainable hiking gear, you can minimize your negative impact on the environment and help preserve the natural spaces that you love to hike in for future generations.
  • Durable and affordable: Investing in high-quality, sustainable hiking gear can be more cost-effective in the long run as you won't need to replace it as often.
  • Social responsibility: Many companies that produce sustainable hiking gear also prioritize fair labour practices and social responsibilities, so buying from them supports ethical businesses.

Overall, investing in sustainable hiking gear is a win-win for both hikers and the environment.

How can I determine if hiking gear is sustainable?

When shopping for hiking gear, it can be challenging to determine whether a product is truly sustainable or not. Here are a few things to look for:

  • Materials: Look for gear made from recycled or sustainably sourced materials, such as organic cotton or bamboo.
  • Certifications: Look for certifications such as the Bluesign® system, which ensures that textile products are manufactured sustainably and responsibly.
  • Reviews: Look for reviews from other hikers who have used the product, with particular attention paid to any comments on durability.
  • Company values: Research the company to see if they prioritize sustainability and social responsibility.

By doing a bit of research and looking for these indicators, you can make more informed decisions when it comes to purchasing sustainable hiking gear.

Is sustainable hiking gear more expensive?

Sustainable hiking gear can be more expensive than traditional hiking gear, but it's important to view it as an investment in both your hiking experiences and the environment. Additionally, purchasing high-quality, sustainable gear can be more cost-effective in the long run as it won't need to be replaced as often.

How can I dispose of old hiking gear sustainably?

If you have old hiking gear that you need to dispose of, it's important to do so in a sustainable way. Here are a few options:

  • Recycle: Many materials used in hiking gear, such as metal and plastic, can be recycled. Look for local recycling programs that accept these materials.
  • Donation: If your old gear is in good condition, consider donating it to a local charity or second-hand store.
  • Upcycling: Get creative and try upcycling your old gear into something new, like turning a worn-out backpack into a reusable shopping bag.

By disposing of old hiking gear sustainably, you can ensure that it doesn't contribute to the growing problem of waste and pollution in the environment.

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