More and more brands are creating apparel and gear from recycled materials, check out this full winter kit made from stuff that used to be other stuff. Eric Parker/TGR photo.
We’ll start this story off with the following sentiment: It’s no secret that consumerism has the outdoor sports world firmly in its grip, yet we continue to produce and buy more and more stuff to help fulfill our fantasies of chasing endless pow days. Sure, there are probably plenty of diehards out there that still ride the same skis they got in college, or rock the same outerwear they bought a decade ago, but the unfortunate fact is the majority of us keep on buying more stuff each and every year. It’s a phenomenon that does nothing more than create waste for a planet that really can’t handle much more of it. So, short of putting a halt to our insatiable consumption of high-quality gear, here’s a potential solution to the problem and eliminating waste: make sure your next piece of gear is made from recycled materials.
With that in mind, we took a look at some of the best winter gear this season that is made with sustainability in mind. It’s more than just marketing buzzwords – these products are made either entirely or in large part from recycled and sustainable materials. We’ve selected a few that stood out in the crowd (more and more brands are jumping on this particular bandwagon – and in our book, that’s the best thing that could happen in our industry), and created a head-to-toe ski or snowboard kit that we wouldn’t mind rocking all winter long.
Patagonia Pow Slayer Jacket
The team at Patagonia have long been on the forefront of sustainability in the outdoor gear industry. Their efforts hail all the way back to 1993, when the brand created its first fleece jacket made from recycled soda bottles. However, converting 100 percent of their waterproof shell line to recycled materials was no easy task. Even better, Patagonia claims that 97 percent of their carbon emissions from their supply chain, and 86 percent of those emissions come from creating virgin plastic fibers. By using these recycled materials, they are not only eliminating waste, they are also reducing their carbon footprint.
The jacket we were most stoked on was the Pow Slayer, which admittedly has been in their line-up for several seasons now. It’s still one of the absolute best hard-shell Gore-Tex jackets for backcountry riding and resort shredding ever made – and the fact that it’s now made with 100 percent recycled face fabric is a huge win. We’ve put this jacket through the paces in all kinds of conditions, and it has yet to let us down.
Rab Xenon Puffy
If you live in North America, we’ll forgive you for not knowing much about RAB. The brand hails from the UK, and has decades of expertise creating high-end climbing and mountaineering apparel and equipment. Like much of the rest of the industry, Rab has identified the need to move towards more sustainable production practices and has focused on using recycled materials across their apparel lines. Along the way, they developed a new form of synthetic insulation for puffy jackets called Stratus, made entirely from 100 percent recycled PET bottles, that has garnered GRS certification.
Stratus is used in their Xenon Puffy, an extremely warm layer that we see best used as an emergency jacket to keep in your pack on long backcountry missions. It’s designed as an alpine climbing belay parka and fills the role of extra insulation on ski or snowboard missions perfectly, packing down to the size of a small water bottle. Unlike down, the synthetic insulation won’t be useless if it gets wet, adding to its value as versatile jacket for the backcountry.
Mountain Hardwear Boundary Ridge Gore-Tex Bibs
Mountain Hardwear’s focus on sustainability has been one of innovation and goes beyond the new norm of just using recycled material. Whether it’s eliminating harmful chemicals from tent fabric, choosing sustainable supply lines, or offering one of the best repair and warranty programs in the industry, Mountain Hardwear has chosen to be a leader in the good fight. The brand might have stepped away from manufacturing dedicated ski and board apparel for a few years, but they are back with a new selection of winter gear that should pique your attention.
If you’re in the market for a new set of snow pants, look no further than the Boundary Ridge Gore-Tex 3L Bibs. Why get pants if you can wear bibs? They’re warmer, more waterproof, and more versatile in the backcountry, and MHW’s bibs are no exception to that rule. Using 100 percent recycled Gore-Tex material, they feature a single kangaroo-style chest pocket, zippered hip and side pockets, a drop seat for when nature calls while you’re out in nature, reinforced instep kick patches, and plenty of ventilation for when it gets a little swampy. It’s a burly set of bibs that will last many season’s worth of big days in the mountains. Mountain Hardware also makes the awesome Boundary Ridge Jacket to complete the kit, if you're into being all matchy-matchy.
Mountain Flow Eco-Wax
Admittedly, this one isn’t entirely made of recycled materials, but Mountain Flow’s Eco-Wax is the North America’s only plant-based ski wax on the market. Nearly all ski wax is made from petroleum, with over 2.5 million pounds created in 2018 alone. Most of the wax ends up rubbing off the bases of our skis and boards and into the snowpack, ending up in rivers and streams. An EPA study identified toxic materials in several major brand’s products, so Mountain Flow decided to approach the issue by creating plant-based waxes for use on ski bases, skins, and topsheets.
Their quick wax is a quick rub-on solution for those sticky days where you simply cannot find enough speed on the mountain. The warm temp wax works best in temperatures above 15 degrees F and should be applied indoors to dry bases. Mountain Flow also offers skin wax and an anti-stick top sheet spray.
WNDR Alpine Intention 110 Skis
So full disclosure, WNDR Alpine’s brand-new Intention 110 skis aren’t exactly made from recycled materials, but their unique approach to building skis certainly falls into the same category. Instead of using traditional core materials, WNDR Alpine (the new venture of 4FRNT founder Matt Sterbenz and the materials company Checkerspot) uses a forward-thinking method to creating skis: they harness algae to create the ski’s core material. For a full run-down on how it works, check out our deep dive into the backcountry-focused brand here.
On top of the revolutionary core material, WNDR claims to have technology to re-use old ski material. WNDR Alpine will offer a three-year buyback program to recycle and ultimately re-use old ski material. Sterbenz won’t divulge details on exactly how the process works but says Checkerspot has a method to undo the manufacturing process on skis to access the usable materials inside of them.
The Intention 110 is WNDR Alpine’s new mid-fat backcountry ski, offered in either a traditionally cambered or a fully-rockered profile. They are light, stiff, and should hold up to anything the mountain throws at them, including laps on Teton Pass, venturing out the gates of your favorite ski resort, or springtime tours into the far reaches of the mountains.
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