You’ve undoubtedly been encouraged to recycle at some point in your life, but what do those products turn into after they’ve been picked up and sorted? Sure, it’s easy to spot the paper coffee cups or cardboard boxes with a post consumer recycled label stamped on the bottom, but recycled plastics? Not so obvious. A handful of outdoor and snowboard manufacturers are working to turn soda bottles into comfy clothing or coconuts into breathable technical fabrics, and you may be surprised at where recycled gear is showing up this season.
Layering makes all the difference on cold days, especially if you’re the type to bootpack or skin your way to the white room. Overdress and you’re guaranteed to be swimming in cold sweat. Underdress and it’s downright frigid. Dress in plastic soda bottles and you’ll probably be feeling just right. Patagonia’s Nano Puff Jacket is a solid mid-weight layering puffy with a polyester ripstop shell and lining made from 100 percent plastic bottles, discarded fabrics and worn out garments. The insulated jacket adds warmth and wind resistance without packing on the bulk, which makes the Nano Puff ideal for layering underneath an outer shell. When it’s time to ditch the extra layer, the lightweight puffy adds a mere dozen ounces to your load and compresses into its own built-in stuff sack to save room for the other goods rattling around in your pack. And since 1993, when Patagonia began creating clothing from post consumer recycled plastic bottles, they have saved nearly 90 million soda bottles from the landfill.
You don’t necessarily have to put on your rose-colored lenses to see the world in a better light. A pair of Von Zipper Feenom Shift Into Neutral goggles will do just fine. The Feenoms have been around for years, perhaps because of the wide peripheral view that helps you take in the life-sized beauty of the mountains, but Von Zipper’s new Shift Into Neutral series aims to keep that view looking fresh for years to come. Using the same eco technologies from their line of Shift Into Neutral sunglasses, the Feenom Shift Into Neutral goggles feature a flexible and durable frame built from 50 percent recycled thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) and are lined with sustainable bamboo rayon polar fleece for a plush fit around your face. Even the adjustable strap uses bamboo rayon so you can wrap your head around the concept of comfy and sustainable goggles. The Feenom Shift Into Neutral goggles include two interchangeable lenses for crisp on-snow visuals and come in minimal packaging, because hugging Mother Nature never goes out of style.
With roots in the Pacific Northwest, it’s fitting that Lib Tech is dedicated to greening up the snowboard manufacturing process—or at least making smarter decisions for the love of winter. The Lib Tech Banana Magic BTX uses eco-friendly construction without skimping on the super-fun rocker/camber “banana” technology. By replacing traditional fiberglass with organic volcanic basalt, the Banana Magic BTX takes on stronger, lighter and snappier characteristics for your bag of all-mountain freestyle tricks. And after the sustainably grown wood core is glued together by low VOC resin, the Banana Magic BTX is glossed with a coat of plant-based lacquer that adds non-toxic strength and durability to the top sheet. Plus, by using more sustainable materials, Lib Tech’s employees are exposed to less harsh working conditions when they build the Banana Magic by hand in the US of A.
Snowboard boots leave a big footprint in the world long before they see the ground, but Flow’s new HyLite ZipFit boot takes a stab at reducing its environmental imprint. The HyLite ZipFit absorbs heavy impacts with lightweight, environmentally responsible EVA foam built into the sole, helping to reduce the overall weight of the boot. The entire boot’s upper uses 35 percent post consumer PET, which transforms recycled plastic bottles into repurposed materials. And on the inside, the boot is reinforced with recycled strobe boards for just the right amount of stiffness and ankle support that all-mountain riders need when tearing up bigger lines. Combined with a dual Boa lacing system and the ZipFit liner to dial in the right fit without having to unlace your boots, plus a thermo-moldable insole for better arch support, the HyLite ZipFit is a boot that would make Ullr happy.
The line of tough outerwear over at Homeschool Snowboarding doesn’t come without a soft spot for Mother Nature. The Portland, Ore.-based company launched their Baker series in 2011, including jackets, pants and base layers, to combat the typical soggy conditions at the legendary Northwest mountain. But instead of relying on the ol’ Gore-Tex standby to keep you dry and dank-free on the inside, Homeschool Snowboarding opted for Cocona technology, a highly breathable membrane made from recycled coconut shells. Disposed husks are ground up to activate natural carbon particles that characteristically have all sorts of high tech features to control funky smells and increase moisture-wicking abilities, helping you stay dry no matter where your stomping grounds are. The Skweetis Pant slap a 100 percent recycled polyester shell on the outside for bombproof durability and feature a 15,000 mm waterproof rating to keep the weather from creeping in.
Niche Snowboards has built a name for itself since the company launched in 2011 with a focus on responsible snowboard manufacturing. Although it makes a minimal impact on the environment, it dominates on the mountain. Using organic volcanic basalt on the inside, the Theme holds better strength than fiberglass and helps absorb the shock impact when stomping tricks in the park. The sustainable poplar wood core and recycled base material are sandwiched together with uber-gluey bio resin and held in place with recycled steel edges, resulting in a process that reduces the overall factory waste. Plus, sharp graphics by lowbrow illustrator Michael Sieben are digitally printed onto the top sheet in lieu of toxic, glossy lacquers.
With plenty of pocket space, cozy padded shoulder straps and a low-profile fit, the Dakine Heli Pro 20-liter backpack hauls gear around campus just as well as it does in the backcountry. So, it’s hard to imagine Dakine improving on the best-selling Heli Pro. Sure, all Dakine’s packs are built from PVC-free materials, but the Re-Gen series kicks it into higher gear with the Heli Pro Re-Gen. This sucker is roomy enough to stash a full day’s worth of alpine gear inside the 100 percent recycled PET pack—a material that’s sourced from discarded plastic bottles. Plus, skis and boards are secured to the exterior by means of hardworking buckles that have been reground from scrapped plastic.