One of the biggest concerns I hear from sustainable shoppers is that it’s hard to find ethical outdoor clothing and nearly impossible to find it cheaply. Challenge accepted!
You can trust that the outdoor clothing companies and sustainable brands discussed here are committed to preserving the very outdoors they seek to promote through fair-trade practices, fair-wage practices, plastic-free packaging (as much as possible), and using recycled or upcycled materials.
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Let’s dive in!
This is my favorite tip for finding eco-friendly outdoor gear and it absolutely applies to sustainable outdoor clothing as well. Buy your outdoor gear gently used!
Here are a few sustainable outdoor brands that are selling gently used ethical outdoor clothing:
Geartrade is an awesome eco-friendly, centralized hub for buying and selling outdoor gear and clothing. The clothes are often so gently “used” that the tags are still on them, but your discount is massive.
You can sign up for an account at Geartrade absolutely free to buy your discounted items. Reusing outdoor gear and keeping it out of our landfills is one of the most sustainable ways to shop. And it’s great for your wallet, too!
Have gear to sell? You can sign up for a free Geartrade account to sell your gently used outdoor gear, too! You can list it yourself or send it to Geartrade and they’ll sell it for you and send you the cash when your stuff sells.
The Patagonia Worn Wear program allows you to shop Patagonia brand items at a much-reduced price.
The founder of Patagonia literally created the 1% for the Planet program, which encourages companies to contribute one percent of total annual sales to grassroots environmental groups. So you know these guys are leaders even among other ethical outdoor brands who are looking to keep clothes out of landfills and to use sustainable materials in production.
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If you live in the United States and you love the outdoors, then you are probably familiar with the outdoor company REI and its famous garage sales where the local branches of this ethical outdoor company fills its parking lots, selling returned items at a hugely discounted price.
During the pandemic, the large garage sales are on hold, but you can shop the online REI outlet to enjoy the same discounts. (They are having a member sale as we speak! Use coupon code OUTDOOR20 for 20 percent off through Sept. 29.)
And did you know you can also shop for gently used outdoor gear? Yep!
Why do I call REI an ethical brand? Because REI gives 70 percent of its profits back to co-op members, employee profit-sharing and retirement plans, and non-profits committed to preserving the environment. REI is all about giving its money to the outdoor community.
Also, and I just love this factoid, REI closes all stores on Black Friday so its employees can be with their families, preferably on a good, long hike.
I’ve already carried on about my love for REI and their commitment to giving back to the outdoor community, including dividends for co-op members, but it gets better!
Co-op members, you can trade-in your gently used gear for REI gift cards. That’s doubling down on sustainability, since you’re keeping your old gear out of the landfills, and you can use your gift card to shop REI’s stores that are already stocked with sustainable clothing brands. Win-win!
I am a fan of the North Face for their limited lifetime warranty on most products. You know their outdoor clothes are built to last! But if you want to recycle your gear from the North Face or from any brand you can bring your items to retail stores and receive $10 off on your next purchase of $100 or more.
Patagonia is one of those outdoor clothing brands that I love so much for its commitment to sustainability, but their clothes can be pretty expensive.
Offset the cost dramatically by trading in your used Patagonia gear for store credit. You can bring your gear into retail stores or mail in your items and Patagonia will cover the shipping.
I mentioned Patagonia above because, like REI and Geartrade, this sustainable outdoor outfitter sells used gear and accepts gently used Patagonia brand items for store credit.
But keep an eye on their web specials, featuring past-season ethical outdoor clothing on the cheap!
Also, keep an eye on the REI outlet featuring past-season sustainable outdoor brands and returned gear at huge discounts.
And now the moment you’ve been waiting for! My top sustainable finds for under $100 Let’s go!
Waterproof, breathable, anti-microbial, tear-resistant, stretchy without being tight, big pockets, long but with the ability to cinch into capris, and made from recycled materials. That’s a long list of awesome, but I’m not even done yet. The best part? They roll and stuff into the pocket for packing!
The Trailhead shorts feature all of the same awesomeness but in shorts (obviously)!
Cozy vest made with recycled polyester fleece materials and fair-trade certified.
Cost for the Synchilla Polyester Fleece: $79
Bluesign-certified thermal made with 75 percent recycled materials. Cozy and perfect for a leaf-peeping!
Soft, breathable, durable, and made from 65 percent organic cotton and 33 percent viscose bamboo, these jackets are perfect for autumn at a great price!
These sustainable shoes are made with eucalyptus tree fiber that is responsibly sourced from an FSC-certified forest. The midsoles are made from Brazillian sugarcane, and the insoles from castor bean oil, and moisture-wicking Merino wool. It doesn’t get more ethically outdoorsy than that.
The North Face has a whole online section that you can search for women’s jackets under $100. The men’s jacket sale is a bit more limited at our price range, but there are still some great finds to explore. Below are two of my favorites from the fall sale collection.
Made from organic cotton and recycled polyester these are two of my favorite cozy tops from the sustainable outdoor brand Tentree. With every purchase made at Tentree, they plant ten trees.
I love everything about Coalatree and this ethical outdoor brand’s commitment to sustainability, but it’s their pants that I love the most. So here is our second pair of sustainable pants from this awesome company specializing in eco-minded goods.
We all need a good pair of jeans to tuck into our boots, right?
But these jeans aren’t your average pants. The dye in the denim is made from a waterless method, saving gallons of water with every pair produced. Plus, the jeans are water-resistant, stain-resistant, and made from recycled plastic and coffee. Yep. Coffee.
The best part is that they are so stretcy that they are perfect for a rainy day at the bookstore or a sunny day on the trails! OK, I’ll stop raving now.
The Decalf Denim jeans are unisex: $109
The knit on these loafers is made from plastic water bottles! They look great for the kind of autumn day that calls for a (sockless) road trip adventure!
I really love this sustainable shoe company. They are working to create a recycling program to keep their shoes out of landfills; they are working toward zero-waste production at their factory; they are making the entire fashion industry better by leading the charge in using twice-recycled materials in their products; and they are moving toward carbon neutral status. Amazing.
The North Face has a cozy flannel for just over $100. Made from 100 percent organic cotton and lined with recycled fleece, this flannel has cozy qualities and eco-friendly credentials.
The women’s campfire shirt: $109 The men’s campfire shirt was out of stock at the time of writing. It is still listed at $109 if it is restocked. But you may want to look at other flannel options here.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post on finding cost-effective and ethical outdoor clothing. Do you have more tips on finding sustainable clothes? More ethical outdoor clothing finds for cheap? Let me know in the comments below!
Also, if you hate single-use plastic as much as I do, please check out this post on traveling without using plastic water bottles. And please check out my collection of sustainable travel suggestions and sustainable living tips.
Thank you for reading and remember to wander with love!