These fashionable jackets are both enviro- and human-friendlyWe think it's great that gear makers are much more environmentally aware. But if you really want to change the world, the products have to work too. Here are four new offerings that sport equal parts green cred and serious function.
1. Patagonia Nano Puff Pullover ($200)
We've used this 255-gram (nine-ounce) puffball for everything: to throw on at lunch while ski touring, for cool nights while backpacking, for belaying while on a climb. The 60-gram insulation has excellent warmth-to-weight ratio and is highly compressible (it stores in the chest pocket). The shell is water- and wind-resistant, even beading sleet.
Green cred: Patagonia is always leading the charge with a serious commitment to making sustainable products and looking after the environment. The company was a founding member of 1% for the Planet (see sidebar). As for the Nano itself, the shell and liner are made from 100 per cent recycled polyester, both post- and pre-consumer sourced. It would be nice if the insulation were recycled too, but at least the whole jacket can be recycled-if you ever wear it out.
2. Merrell NADA ($280)
Fashionable and functional, the NADA has a rare crossover appeal. Its fashion-forward cut and style would be at home on Toronto's Bay Street or Blackcomb's Spanky's Ladder. The all-white jacket won't suit every style, but with a waterproof and breathable shell backed by enough insulation for a Canadian winter, you could wear it in almost any weather, doing most non-aerobic activities from November on.
Green cred: NADA stands for Not Any Dye Applied, thus the all-white look. By skipping the intensive dying stage, Merrell says 86 per cent less water, 59 per cent less energy and 63 per cent fewer chemicals were consumed, and 59 per cent fewer greenhouse gases were produced. The proof is in the sleeve, where an impact statement is embroidered (in dye-free thread of course).
3. Ibex Shak Full Zip Hoody ($195)
This is one of those jackets that everyone wants to wear. It looks cozy-a tightly woven, loose-fitting, full-zip wool sweater with the added benefit of a hood and cotton-like feel. Plus, there's merino wool's performance features: warm when wet, no odour retention, good insulation and moisture wicking.
Green cred: Not only is wool a natural, renewable fibre, but all of the wool used in the Shak is Zque accredited-a third-party certification process. To qualify, wool stations must meet best-management practices for everything from how they treat their sheep dogs to social and environmental factors. All the wool is traceable back to the farm it came from. And no mulesing-a painful process that some farmers use to protect sheep from blowflies-is allowed.
4. Sierra Designs Cyclone Eco Jacket ($195)
This is not the lightest nor the toughest waterproof and breathable shell jacket, but it's perfect for most of us. The 2.5-layer fabric feels burly enough for year-round use. A helmet-compatible hood, multiple pockets and pit zips give it multi-sport ability. Layer with the Shak or Nano and you're set for winter. The conversion chart inside the jacket is a nice touch.
Green cred: The Cyclone is the best example of SD's Green Effect program, an effort to create a "harmonious relationship between our business world and the outdoor world." To that end, the company looks for sustainable ways to make its products, reduces waste, uses renewable power and recycles. There are dozens of products in its Green Effect program. The Cyclone shell is made from recycled polyester and seams are sealed using PVC-free tape.