'Green' Gear Roundup

By STEPHEN REGENOLD

Going green is not a new phenomenon in the world of outdoors gear. To be sure, it was almost 15 years ago that Patagonia unveiled a jacket made with fibers derived from recycled soda bottles. But today’s eco-friendly gear — including packs, shoes, socks, gadget cases and camp stoves — reflects an industry-wide push to think broadly about sustainability.

“Consumer demand is there,” said Berne Broudy, a Vermont-based editor with Backpacker magazine who covers the environment. She said sustainable manufacturing processes, new chemical treatments and the availability of materials ranging from organic cotton to PVC-free plastics has changed the industry. “Making a wide range of green gear has now become viable,” Broudy said.

Here are a handful of new products that tout a good eco story as well as performance for use in the field. . .

Carbon Neutral Camp Stove
Wasting little of its flame output, the Primus EtaPower MF stove utilizes up to 80 percent of the heat it generates for cooking — a good eco move to start. But to go another step, the company buys carbon offsets for every EtaPower MultiFuel stove sold, making cooking your hotcakes now a carbon-neutral experience. $190, www.primuscamping.com

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Osprey Circuit
Tote gear in an eco-friendly pack: The Osprey Circuit is made of 70 percent recycled materials, including re-born PET plastic, webbing and mesh. Bonus: With a slim laptop-compatible pocket this pack does double duty in town or on the trail. $99, www.ospreypacks.com

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Keen Newport Hemp
Woven hemp fiber gives this popular Keen hybrid sandal-shoe a new look. The patented toe guard protects from errant roots and rocks on the trail, while the airy — and eco-friendly — upper lets your feet breathe. $95, www.keenfootwear.com

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Solio Hybrid1000
The Solio clips to your backpack while you walk, sucking rays all day and saving the juice in its internal lithium-ion battery. Later, plug in your iPod, or even a laptop computer, to bank off the device’s 5-watt output — enough to power most any mobile device. $79, www.solio.com

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Teko Ingeo Light Hiking socks
Made of a biodegradable corn-based fiber, these socks have extra reinforcement in the heels and toes for durability. The fabric transfers moisture and sweat to keep feet dry and prevent blisters. $13.95, www.tekosocks.com

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Big Agnes Ripple Creek
This eco-cocoon is comprised of 96 percent recycled content, including a rip-stop nylon shell. But you don’t lose comfort for the bag’s green bias: Big Agnes stitches in a pillow pocket and cuts the bag wide for more room at your feet and shoulders. $160, www.bigagnes.com

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Sierra Design Cyclone Eco
This mid-weight shell — which can be used as a rain jacket or a cool-weather top — is touted to be the most sustainable jacket on the market. It is made of a recycled PET face fabric with PVC-free seam tape and a solvent-free waterproof-breathable laminate. $149.95, www.sierradesigns.com (Available starting this summer.)

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Icebreaker Biodegradable T’s
New Zealand-based Icebreaker has a line of biodegradable apparel. The “Plant It” T-shirts and tops for women and the Renew/Recycle T-shirts for men are made of 100-percent merino wool — a sustainable, biodegradable and annually-renewable fiber. Wear one of these shirts for a few years, then as the Plant It’s name implies, dig a hole and throw the shirt in for a ceremonial, ecosystem-sustaining burial. $55 and up, www.icebreaker.com

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REI Organic Cotton Cadet Cap
Touting an eco ethos with a Cuban flair, the Cadet Cap is an organic cotton alternative to the workaday baseball bill. Bonus: The cap comes with a worn look and feel that requires no break-in time. $16, www.rei.com

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Aquapac Hard Lens Camera Case
This plastic waterproof camera case is now 100 percent PVC-free, meaning the case employs no polyvinyl chloride, a chemical cited in some studies as a pollutant and a carcinogen. Made for tiny digital cameras, the case has a polycarbonate hard lens for clear images and a watertight seal to keep moisture out. $45, www.aquapac.net

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Yakima SkyBox
This series of car-top cargo boxes are made with 80 percent recycled ABS plastic, including scraps thrown aside during the manufacturing of other Yakima products. Boxes start at $459, www.yakima.com

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Check out the next article in this series:
http://thegearjunkie.com/green-gear-2008-part-iii

(Stephen Regenold writes The Gear Junkie column for eleven U.S. newspapers; see www.THEGEARJUNKIE.com for video gear reviews, a daily blog, and an archive of Regenold’s work.)

Posted by Mel - 05/20/2008 01:36 PM

This is awesome Stephan! I look forward to the day when Green gear isn’t its own category but commonplace.

Posted by Kelsey - 05/23/2008 12:23 PM

The Solio Hybrid1000 is a great idea. I think I will use this around town as well.
Thanks also for the information on the Primus stove.

Posted by Scott - 06/07/2008 10:21 AM

Interesting tidbit about the Primus Eta MF. I guess every small bit helps, but….carbon offsets for backpacking stoves?

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