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13 products from Outdoor Retailer's Snow Show that reveal how companies are upping their sustainability methods

Published by Business Insider on Thu, 06 Feb 2020

Sustainability is a major theme at Denver, Colorado's Outdoor Retailer conference, the biggest tradeshow for the outdoor industry.From durable recycled polyester to crushed oyster shells, outdoor companies are implementing unique materials and methods in making their products sustainable.We looked at 13 products that show how outdoor companies are elevating their sustainability game.Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.You can't walk past more than two or three booths at Outdoor Retailer without seeing the words sustainable or eco-friendlyit's something the outdoor industry (led by those who attend OR) have championed for yearslong before it became de rigueur in mainstream fashion. Though it's not surprising to see so many brands embrace eco-friendly clothing or sustainable manufacturing practices at the show, it is a breath of fresh air (pun intended).But sustainability methods are questionable, particularly in clothing. A manufacturer can claim its products are environmentally friendly even when the use of recycled materials constitutes a small percentage of the overall construction. It's why in recent years, the outdoor industry has been working toward being even more transparent in how it makes sustainable products, including the type of materials usedfrom man-made fabrics like Polartec Power Air, Cordura Eco, and Repreve, to novel reuse of materials like sailcloth and wool.Nearly every company that exhibited at the 2020 Outdoor Retailer Snow Show has a sustainability story. Here are 13 companies that delivered an eco-friendly message at OR in interesting ways. Most will go on sale in fall 2020, but some are available now or soon. Knitwear: Sherpa Adventure Gear Lumbini PulloverSnowshoes: Crescent Moon Biodegradable SnowshoesTravel bag: Tentree Mobius DuffelSunglasses: Zeal Optics AspenHigh-tech fabric: Helly Hansen LIFA Infinity ProEveryday backpack: JanSport Recycled SuperBreakFleece jacket: Houdini Mono Air Half-Zip and HoudiLunch containers: Light My Fire MealKit BIOColor water bottle: Klean Kanteen Insulated TK WideSki jacket: Obermeyer Tuscany IIWool backpack: Fjallraven Kanken Re-WoolMoisture-wicking, breathable shirt: Headsweats Short Sleeve Performance Tee ShirtTote bags: Sea BagsResponsibly-sourced knitwearSherpa Adventure Gear Lumbini Pulloveravailable in fall 2020Sherpa's recent rebrand saw the brand focus on both fashion and sustainability, while also continuing its social-conscious work in giving back to the people of Nepalincluding a new education program that aims to provide 10 million days of schooling for children by 2030.On the sustainability front, Sherpa's upcoming Lumbini Pullover caught our attention. Handmade in Nepal, it's made from a fabric that was created from crushed, leftover oyster shells that have been discarded after having the meat removed. The knitwear also creates jobs for women in Nepal, helping them provide additional income for their families.SnowshoesCrescent Moon Biodegradable Snowshoesestimated availability in fall 2020Crescent Moon joined the wave of sustainability at this winter's Outdoor Retailer Snow Show by unveiling a new biodegradable material it plans to use on its snowshoes. Called Eco Plastic, the new foam will be manufactured out of potato and corn starch, as well as other food waste. The brand says that Eco Plastic will also fully biodegrade in just one year (and can even be 50% degraded after just four months).The foam not only provides better cushioning but it also gives you more boost to propel you forward. You're even able to run in them, Crescent Moon told Business Insider. Optional removable lugs give you greater traction on ice, too.And don't worry about durability concerns, either. Crescent Moon says that with proper care and storage, any snowshoe featuring Eco Plastic foam holds up just as well as its non-biodegradable kin.Travel bagTentree Mobius Duffel, $108available in fall 2020The Vancouver, Canada-based brand, Tentree debuted a new travel duffel that's made of 95% recycled materials, including recycled polyester fabric (Repreve) and an algae-based foam padding. Everything down to the buckles, padding, and zippers is made of recycled or renewable materials, like algae. The duffel is said to use 45% less energy, 20% less water, and 30% less carbon dioxide than similar bags. We love that it has ample room, too, including a separate compartment for dirties or shoes.The company already has a backpack in the Mobius collection, which is available now. It uses the same materials as the upcoming duffel.Tentree also unveiled the very first hooded sweatshirt to be certified cradle-to-cradle (C2C) Gold, giving it the highest sustainability rating for any hoodie on the market. Not only is the French Terry hoodie ($68, also available in fall 2020) manufactured using Fair Trade Certified Organic cotton but its fully compostable, toothe threads, prints, and trims are all compostable and non-toxic for the soil. The C2C Gold rating also shows that the apparel (and brand) support fair wages for the farmers who originally grew the cotton used.SunglassesZeal Optics Aspen, $169available in April 2020Zeal Optics's "See Grass" sunglasses are made out of 50% recycled plastic bottles and 50% grass fibers. They're a durable pair of shades that cut down on the brand's carbon footprint. Designed in Colorado, the glasses feature frames made in Italy and lenses from Japan. Style-wise, the Aspen skews feminine while a companion pair, the Divide, is more masculine, but both are technically gender-neutral.High-tech fabricHelly Hansen LIFA Infinity Pro Technologyavailable in fall 2020Helly Hansen has created a new fabric that is waterproof, water-repelling, breathable, and lightweight, yet it uses no chemicals, coatings, or solvents to achieve those attributes. According to Helly Hansen, the products require 75% less water in the solution dyeing process, in lieu of DWR (Durable Water Repellent) coating. Called LIFA Pro, this three-layer material will be introduced in two new jackets, the Elevation Infinity Shell ($750) and Odin Infinity Shell ($700). Both jackets are designed for skiing, however the Elevation is geared toward long freerides. Helly Hansen said the breathability and waterproofing are guaranteed for life of the jacket, without the need for recoating.Everyday backpackJanSport Recycled SuperBreak Backpackavailable in June 2020The SuperBreak is JanSport's iconic backpack style and this year, the company's launching a version made from 100% recycled material like Cordura's Eco polyester yarn. The fabric is durable and waterproof, yet requires less energy to produce. The webbing and cording are also made from 100% recycled nylon.Fleece jacketHoudini Mono Air, $200available in April 2020The Mono Air (men's and women's) from Houdini are not only made from 100% recycled polyester but it's also recyclable itself, giving it circular sustainability. This hooded fleece jacket uses a new version of Polartec's Power Air fabric that's 25% lighter than the previous iteration, while the microfiber sheds less than typical fleeceby up to 80%, according to Polartec. The stretchy jacket can be worn as a mid-layer or outer layer, depending on the activity.The jacket is designed to insulate for body heat regulation while staying thin and lightweight. It's the first fabric constructed to encase air with one continuous yarn, Polartec said. The Mono Air Half-Zip and Houdi is the launch product, and it represents Houdini's goal of being completely circular.During OR, we wore the Houdini Power Air Houdi around Denverwhich uses the first version of Polartec Power Air that launched in 2019to get a feel of how the newer Mono Air would perform. The Power Air Houdi is similar to the Mono Air but is slightly thicker and retains more heat. We wore it as an outer layer and found it kept us warm outdoors and comfortable indoors, but it's definitely on the heavier side. While the Mono Air retains slightly less heat, it is $50 cheaper than the Power Air Houdi ($250); it's not meant to replace the Power Air Houdi, however, as that will remain in the lineup.Lunch containersLight My Fire MealKit BIO, $30available nowSweden's Light My Fire makes easy-to-use fire starters but it also manufactures a line of sustainable food containers called the MealKit BIO. Made mostly from BPA-free bioplastics (GMO-free corn and sugarcane) and wood fiber, the MealKit BIO has all you need to prepare and eat your food, whether it's on the trail outdoors or in an office cafeteria. Designed to all nest inside the bowl (Insider Picks Managing Editor Malarie Gokey uses this product and finds the containers to nest nicely within each other), the kit also includes lids, two smaller containers, a collapsible cup, cutting board, spork, a rubber harness to hold it all together (this part isn't bio-friendly), and a bag. The containers, lids, and cup are microwave and dishwasher safe, too.Wool backpackFjallraven Kanken Re-Wool, $259available fall 2020The Kanken is Fjallraven's most iconic bag and it's getting a sustainable makeover with a version made with recycled wool. When sheep are sheared for their wool, the coarser hair is discarded because it's not soft enough to wear against our skin. Instead of wasting this wool, Fjallraven is repurposing it into a higher-quality material for a variety of products, from jacket battings to bags, like the Kanken Re-Wool. If you can't wait for this Kanken to arrive, Fjallraven is already using recycled wool in its Norrvage collection.Ski jacketObermeyer Tuscany II Jacket, $259available in fall 2020The Tuscany II is one of Obermeyer's best-selling women's ski jackets and for fall 2020, it's being introduced in new styles and sustainable materials. Obermeyer is using a recycled polyester called Repreve (which is also used by many other outdoors companies), that's made out of recycled materials that include plastic bottles reclaimed from oceans. The waterproof jacket even includes a hood made from faux fur. Obermeyer also plans on using Repreve in its Malta ski pants ($149), out later this year.Color water bottleKlean Kanteen Insulated TK Wide (16 ounces), $29.95available now. TK Twist cap, $11.95available in July 2020To create the colors for its insulated water bottles, Klean Kanteen uses a powder coating that is safer for both users and the environment. The company controls the ingredients that go into the coating formula, ensuring they're both eco-friendly and resistant to chipping. The insulated water bottles are already available but Klean Kanteen is introducing a new cap with a built-in straw called the TK Twist. The new cap launches in July.Moisture-wicking, breathable shirtHeadsweats Short Sleeve Performance Tee Shirt - Bigfoot & Baxter, $24available nowKnown for its sweat-absorbing headwear, Headsweats also makes apparel that uses Repreve recycled polyester fabric. The brand wears its sustainability on its sleeve, too. Or, on the back of each shirt, at least where the number of recycled water bottles that went into the fabric (in theory) is listed. This shirt features Bigfoot and Baxter, two characters you'll often see on Headsweats products.Tote bagsSea Bags Totes, $24available nowSea Bags are highly durable because they're made from recycled sailcloth that's used on boats. Made in Maine, Sea Bags come in a variety of tote sizes and prints, as well as bags for traveling, shopping, bottles of wine, etc.
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