The gear made by outdoor brands helps us get safely out into nature, where we can explore the mountains, rivers, and crags that inspire, excite, and rejuvenate us. It’s only fitting that those companies would also be taking steps to protect those beautiful spaces, too. Here, we found eight gear producers with Colorado ties that are taking steps to be eco-conscious—and spotlight some of their best products.

Zeal Optics

The Calistoga frames from Zeal Optics. Photo courtesy of Zeal Optics

See a brighter future for yourself and your planet with the latest additions to Zeal’s See Grass Collection. The cat-eyed Calistoga and more angular Northwind (both $169) models include a plant-based Ellume polarized lens, as well as frames made from 70 percent recycled plastics and 30 percent grass fibers in a closed-loop biorefinery powered by decomposing organic matter. (Kind of eww, but also awesome.) Even better: These sunnies are also part of Zeal’s Shades for Seas program, an April-only initiative, during which the Boulder-based brand plans to clean 1,000 square feet of coastline for each pair of sunglasses, goggles, and lenses sold as part of a partnership with Plastic Oceans International.

Pearl Izumi

Can you ride your gear’s climate impact out of existence? That’s the basis of Pearl Izumi’s new Pedal to Zero initiative. Each garment in their spring “bikestyle” collection (apparel designed to work well on the bike and look good off of it) highlights the distance the consumer would need to ride, rather than drive, to zero out the item’s carbon footprint. To arrive at the mileage, the Louisville-based brand calculates the total emissions from creating, shipping, and after care (e.g., washing), and then divides by the Environmental Protection Agency’s estimate that a typical passenger car produces per mile (404 grams of carbon dioxide). Using that equation, their new Rove Short ($90) requires a two-wheeled commute of just 20 or 24 miles—the women’s version has a slightly lighter footprint—to offset the environmental impact of production. Ride on!


Climate neutrality, the idea of reducing greenhouse gas emissions until they’re close to zero and then compensating for what’s left through an offset process, is a lofty goal. That hasn’t stopped the Swiss wool experts at Ortovox, which has its U.S. headquarters in Longmont, from tackling the challenge—and by 2024 no less. They’ve already eliminated perfluorocarbons (chemicals that are nasty for us and the Earth) from all insulation products. And many other items, including the Valbon Pant ($150 for both men’s and women’s styles), are made using a natural mix of organic cotton and soil-replenishing hemp.


Photo courtesy of Icebreaker

Colorado outdoor aficionados have likely noticed that their wool base layers are highly breathable, effectively wicking sweat away from their bodies while also providing top-notch temperature regulation. Another wonderful attribute of wool: It’s uber sustainable, especially when made without polyester (read: plastic) elements. And that’s the quest Icebreaker has undertaken with its Plastic Free by 2023 initiative. Housed under the Denver-based VF Corporation, Icebreaker lays out its numerous climate-friendly goals in a 75-page Transparency Report. Read it while lounging in their 100 percent merino Tech Lite II Short Sleeve T-Shirt ($85), available for both ladies and gents.


Each year, Norrøna writes a check for a greener future. Donations are all part of their 1% for Nature initiative, which sets aside one percent of their total sales to help organizations like the Basecamp Explorer Foundation working to promote sustainability and conserve global ecosystems. Many of their products tell an Earth-loving story, too. Check out their duffels ($189 for the 70-liter option), all of which are made from 100 percent regenerated nylon yarn derived from pre- and post-consumer waste, like discarded fishing nets, in-person at their Boulder storefront (also the site of their U.S. headquarters).


Last year, Scarpa debuted its Green Manifesto, a promise that includes a commitment to update products with the most eco-friendly materials on the market–and to partner with brands to create them when a sustainable solution isn’t on hand. This year, the outdoor footwear brand hopes to make that pledge even more tangible through certification as a Benefit Corporation, a company legally bound to generate social and public good. Scarpa, whose U.S. arm runs out of Boulder, includes environmental responsibility under that do-good umbrella, and it’s apparent in their Spirit Evo ($179 for both men’s and women’s versions), a trail- and town-ready shoe boasting a recycled suede upper, rubber toe rand, and foam midsole, as well as an eco-friendly rubber outsole.

Sierra Designs

Photo courtesy of Sierra Designs

With a commitment to using post-consumer and factory remnants, recycled materials, and responsibly sourced down (where the material comes from animals that haven’t been subjected to unnecessary harm), Broomfield-based Sierra Designs helps us feel good about its apparel, tents, packs, and sleep systems. Exhibit A: The Night Cap 35-degree sleeping bag ($160 for the regular length) features 100 percent recycled synthetic insulation from plastic water bottles and a recycled, post-industrial fabric shell. Rest easy, indeed.


Soap isn’t exactly an outdoor gear essential, but we can all agree it’s the unspoken hero of the après après–namely, that blissful moment when we shrug off our dust-covered, sweat-riddled apparel and step into a shower. That’s where Carbondale-based Osmia enters. Their bar soaps come in recyclable packaging and have far fewer ingredients (and no chemicals!) compared to commercially produced soaps. Pair a bar of their Oh So Body Soap ($18) with a Soap Stand ($24) made using methane from a retired coal mine for a particularly Earth-friendly experience.

(Read more: How to Live More Sustainably in Colorado