Gear test: Green outdoor kit

Gear test: Green outdoor kit

Gruezi sleeping bag

Our selection of outstanding eco-gear for walkers, campers and picnickers, tried and tested

Selkirk Juniper Sock

Tentree, £19.95

Cosy on your feet, and easy on the planet – Tentree socks 

These thick, soft socks are made from 70% Repreve recycled polyester – equivalent to three plastic bottles. Not only that, but Tentree promise to plant ten trees for every product they sell. To date they say they’ve planted more than 40m, in eight countries in Asia, Africa and North America. JP

Mineral sun cream and insect repellent

incognito, £14.99 (75ml)

Unlike many sun creams, incognito’s is plastic-free 

Many sun creams contain microplastics ­­– but not this one. It’s also Soil Association-approved, containing no harmful chemicals. The lemon eucalyptus oil (PMD) insect repellent is free of DEET, and Incognito say it works for four hours, deterring mosquitoes, ticks, horseflies and other biting critters. Citrusy fragrance includes geranium, aloe and edelweiss. JP


Scent-free sun lotion

Green People, £24

Green People sun lotion is kind to ocean life

Made of 84% organic ingredients, this SPF 30 sunscreen omits chemicals that harm coral reefs. The packaging is recyclable. JP

Biopod DownWool Nature sleeping bag

Grüezi, €399.99

Grüezi’s innovative wool-and-down stuffed sleeping bag is a dream to sleep in 

If going plastic-free is your priority, this is perfect for you. It’s made of all-natural materials – the bag is cotton, wooden buttons replace zips, and even the packaging is made of natural textiles or paper.

Unusually, it’s insulated with a 70:30 mixture of down and wool,­ a clever innovation because wool absorbs moisture – helping to keep the down dry and warm. (This smart thinking helped the bag win Product of the Year in the Outdoor Industry Awards 2019.)

It’s on the heavy side for backpackers at 1.65kg, but campers will love it – it’s deliciously warm and comfortable to sleep in. JP

Women’s Miskanti Fleece Jacket

Vaude, £130

Eco-gear pioneer Vaude’s Miskranti fleece is designed to reduce microfibre pollution

As discussed in the main feature, synthetic fabrics shed microplastics. This low-profile fleece cuts plastic pollution thanks to its soft Tencel lining fabric, whose fibres safely biodegrade in the environment; of which more below.

It’s a  versatile, good-looking top that  can be worn out on adventures or in day-to-day life. Although slender, it is wonderfully warm and works well when layering up. It captures heat while providing breathability and without trapping moisture, and it also dries rapidly after washing.

The cut is slim and flattering, and it has a nice length. I opted for a larger size to avoid clinginess and was impressed by the space it offered without being baggy or shapeless.

Two long zip pockets come in handy for carrying key items or protecting chilly fingers from the cold.

Its ethical credentials are the cherry on top; the soft, stretchy fabric lining is produced from wood cellulose is beyond me – another miracle of modern manufacturing. MH

Trail 22 backpack

Deuter, £90

German firm Deuter has pledged to stop using harmful PFC chemicals in its packs this year

This low-volume pack (22 litres) is designed for vigorous days out in the hills but is a good option for less energetic pursuits, too. Ventilated material on the hip belt, shoulder straps and back make the pack breathable, and its close-fitting nature allows loads to be distributed evenly through your body, improving comfort.

The main compartment can be accessed via a draw-string opening at the top of the pack, or more conveniently from a two-way zip on the front. There is extra storage in the hood and room for a map in the zipped side pocket. Another elasticated pocket on the outside of the pack offers an ideal spot for a small water bottle. Additional features – including a detachable rain cover, an SOS label and loops for attaching carabiners, a helmet and hiking poles – increase the adventure value of the Trail 22. The pack is also free of harmful PFC chemicals, part of Deuter’s ambition to become entirely PFC-free by summer 2020.

The women’s version – Trail 20 SL – is two litres smaller than the men’s Trail 22 but includes all of the same features. Both packs weigh just over 1kg. DG

Bellamont III Plus shoes

Aku, £154.95

Aku have responsibly sourced the leather used in their Bellamont shoes 

These stylish Italian walking shoes boast leather uppers made with a chrome-free tanning process; and are lined with Zero Impact leather, tanned without the use of heavy metals, and for which a tree-planting programme is designed to offset the carbon released in production. They are super-comfortable and the Vibram Predator II outsoles are grippy – but cannot be replaced once worn, unless you take them to a specialist shoe repairerJP

Tare It Up Food Canisters

Klean Kanteen, £18.95 (small), £22.95 (large)

Tough and recyclable: Klean Kanteen food canisters

When your plastic food boxes wear out, consider replacing with these stainless-steel containers. They are more expensive to buy, but they should last a lifetime, are easy to wash, and the leak-proof top means you can carrying wet food safely in your bag. JP

Eco rain-jackets

Braemar Organic SV Smock

Hilltrek, £260

Hilltrek’s Braemar smock, like its other clothing, is handmade in Scotland – a handwritten label even gives the name of the maker who sewed it

This classic walker’s jacket is handmade in workshops a few miles east of the Cairngorms National Park, from Ventile fabric, made with organic cotton. (In a single layer like this fabric is windproof, pleasantly breathable, and showerproof. For a fully waterproof jacket, upgrade to double-layer Ventile, from £300.)

Everything about the Braemar is robust and functional, from the Velcro fastenings to the adjustable hood. The basic smock costs £190, but there are loads of optional extras to customise to your needs… including side-zips for ventilation, size adjustments, and additional pockets such as the chest and side pockets on the jacket pictured (an extra £50). And if anything gets damaged, Hilltrek run a repair service.

Like conventional jackets, the Braemar should be reproofed from time to time with a PCF-free wash-in water repellent, which is easy to find in outdoor gear shops or online; Hilltrek recommend Nikwax. JP

Keb Eco-Shell Jacket

Fjӓllrӓven, £450

Stone-cold classic: it’s hard to fid a better jacket than Fjӓllrӓven’s Keb Eco-Shell 

The best walking jacket I’ve tried in five years of reviewing for the magazine, the Keb Eco-Shell was ahead of the game on release in 2015, the year that Fjӓllrӓven went PFC-free.

The recycled-polyester fabric is soft but substantial; the large pockets – both on the chest – are brilliantly functional. Like almost all rain jackets, it needs care, but with regular tech-washing and reproofing, should repay your investment with a long life-span. Mine is five years old now, has taken a lot of wear and washing, and is still going strong – though it does have to be reproofed quite frequently. JP

Velez jacket

Paramo, £300

Possibly the best waterproofing available: Paramo’s Velez jacket

Unlike most outdoor gear companies, Paramo have never used harmful PFCs in their waterproof clothing. And their Nikwax Directional fabric is probably the most reliable waterproof fabric out there. Two massive advantages for a serious hiker with a conscience.

This slim-fitting jacket is soft but durable, and the close-fitting hood is extremely effective. Paramo will make repairs, which should extend the life of the jacket, and a recycling scheme is available once repair is impossible. JP

JWP Shell jacket for women

Jack Wolfskin, £130

Affordable: Jack Wolfskin’s JWP rain jacket is great for summer walks

Proof that PFC-free rain jackets needn’t cost a fortune. This lightweight jacket is perfect for stowing in a pocket of your pack in case of wet weather (although you may need something more substantial if you plan to spend the day in teeming rain). The Texapore Ecosphere fabric is made of recycled polyester. JP

Rainbird Jacket

Finisterre, £110

Basic protection: Finisterre’s Rainbird jacket

Very light, soft and slightly stretchy, this PFC-free waterproof jacket is made from Ecocircle 100% recycled polyester. It’s a pleasingly simple design, although the hood could be improved with a more effective peak to keep rain out of your eyes. At the relatively low price of just over £110, there are a lot of wins here for eco-conscious walkers; though I wouldn’t expect it to keep you dry for hours, and the soft fabric may need regular reproofing. JP

Reviews by:

Daniel Graham (DG), Maria Hodson (MH), Joe Pontin (JP) 

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