For many, the practice of veganism extends beyond food to other aspects of everyday life, like personal care products and clothing. When it comes to outdoor gear, there’s a limited number of vegan-friendly brands, and many brands that do offer vegan products don't always promote it as such, leaving shoppers to do the research themselves. Sometimes shopping for vegan outdoor gear seems impossible, but there are now some innovative alternatives.
What to Look For
iStockOutdoor gear has historically incorporated many animal byproducts because textiles like wool, leather and down are favoured for their exceptional abilities to trap warmth and wick away moisture while remaining breathable during high-output activities.
Though down and wool are especially common textiles in gear like base and mid layers, jackets and sleeping bags, there are now synthetic alternatives that don’t sacrifice performance, like SpiraFil and PrimaLoft. SpiraFil is a blend of hollow spiral fibres and small polyester fibres. It is warm, soft and durable. PrimaLoft is made with post-consumer recycled content to mimic the trapping capabilities of down, further minimizing its impact on the environment. Because this eco-friendly synthetic material is also hydrophobic, it keeps you warm even when wet.
Hiking boots generally incorporate leather, especially on the tongue, to protect against abrasion and keep water out. When shopping for boots, look for materials like polyurethane, GORE-TEX or recycled plastics. Plant-based glues usually contain gum arabic.
Though outdoor gear can be crafted from vegan or plant-based materials, animal byproducts can often be hidden in the dyes or adhesives. Check the product description or the label inside a garment or boot for key phrases like “100 per cent synthetic." You might want to contact the brand directly to confirm that it's vegan. Below are some gear options ranging from plant-based water bottles to sturdy hiking boots that are free of animal derivatives.
Patagonia TorrentShell 3L Rain Jacket
This extremely popular three-layer breathable shell boasts a clean and simple design. Its adjustable hood and drawcord hem keep precipitation out and its venting pit zips allow for breathability as needed. For those always on the go, this shell stuffs into the left pocket.
The North Face ThermoBall Eco Vest
The North Face
The North Face's ThermoBall Eco line uses 100 per cent post-consumer recycled polyester for insulation without compromising warmth. The vest works well as a midweight layering piece. It’s lightweight, packable and can be stowed in the chest pocket. Plus, the brand doesn’t use any animal products in their dyes.
Reprise Aspen Leggings
Made from the plant-based fabric Tencel, these Aspen Leggings are the sustainable activewear brand’s most popular product. They’re stretchy, breathable and super soft, ideal for hikes and workouts as they’re moisture-wicking and temperature regulating.
Oboz Arete Low
These fast and light hiking shoes, in both mid and low-height versions, come with waterproof options. The Arete Low is nimble on the trails and provides exceptional stability despite being lightweight. Mesh uppers make it a breathable option. Plus, the generous cushioning on these will keep your feet happy while trekking the trails.
Oboz Whakata Puffy
These eco-conscious puffy slippers are a treat for the feet in chilly conditions. Crafted with PrimaLoft insulation, these pull-on shoes keep your feet warm and comfortable even when wet, and are designed for camping, casual strolls, hut trips and post hikes.
The North Face Cat’s Meow Sleeping Bag
The North Face
This synthetic bag is a North Face classic, having had some version of it in circulation since 1977. Rated for -7 C temperatures and sporting an insulated hood and water-repellent finish, the Cat’s Meow is a top choice for general-purpose backpacking and car camping. It offers a spacious interior and comes with its own compression sack for easy stowing.
Vessi Waterproof Knit Gloves 3.0
VessiThe Vancouver-based brand best known for trendy vegan sneakers also makes these 100 per cent waterproof knit gloves to keep your hands warm on the trails. Its four-way stretch and breathability will keep your hands feeling cozy, and the finger pads conveniently let you access your phone without having to take the gloves off every time.
Adventurist Classic Backpack
This 16-litre backpack sports a minimalist design for the stylish outdoor adventurer, and doubles as an all-arounder for those looking to go from trail to office. Its water-resistant 1000D polyester body and two side water bottle pockets set you up for outdoor adventures while its laptop compartment also makes it appropriate for travel.
S’wheat Reusable Water Bottle
Crafted from bamboo and wheat straw, this plant-based water bottle keeps hot drinks insulated and cold drinks refreshing. Its slide-to-lock mouthpiece ensures that it’s leakproof, making it ideal for outdoor adventures. Plus, the oat-coloured water bottle contains no dyes at all, as it’s naturally coloured from the sustainably sourced materials.