A Complete Guide to Eco-Friendly Hiking Gear

Hiking is a great way to get outdoors and enjoy the beauty of nature. However, hiking can also have a negative impact on the environment if hikers don't take care to choose eco-friendly hiking gear. Traditional hiking gear is often made from synthetic materials that take a long time to break down, and can release harmful chemicals into the soil and water. Additionally, much of this gear is mass-produced, meaning that a lot of resources are used up in its production. Luckily, there are now many options for eco-friendly hiking gear that are just as good as traditional gear, but without the negative environmental impact.

This gear is made from sustainable materials like bamboo and wool, and is often sourced from small businesses that use ethical manufacturing practices. Next time you're in the market for hiking gear, make sure to choose something that's good for the planet—ideally, made from recycled materials. Your hiking adventures will be all the better for it! In this article, you’ll find some of the best sustainable hiking gear you can buy, whether you’re an enthusiast hiker or a weekend warrior trying to add a fun hike to your camping trip.

Best Hiking Shoes for Full-Day Hikes

If you’re a serious hiking enthusiast who enjoys full-day hikes, it’s a good idea to invest in shoes and boots that will stand up to the rigors of those long trail adventures. If you are trying to combine high-quality hiking shoes with an eco-friendly mindset when considering the right footwear for your next hiking trip, we can confidently and proudly recommend KEEN Footwear. Keen has similar values to us when it comes to protecting the environment. Every boot, sandal, or sneaker they sell helps them support programs that benefit the community and the environment. They have been collaborating with The Conservation Alliance since 2005, working hard to make a difference. They’ve donated more than 100,000 shoes, 200,000 masks, and $5M in cash and product to those in need. On top of that, their products are completely PFC/PFAS-free, with no non-biodegradable chemicals, and 90 percent of their leather is sourced from LWG gold-rated tanneries. And, like us, their focus is on quality: They make truly high-performance, durable hiking sneakers and boots.

Their best-selling Targhee boots feature incredible traction and stability combined with KEEN.DRY waterproof, breathable membrane and Eco Anti-Odor construction that naturally controls odors. Plus, they are made of environmentally preferred premium leather and are PFC-free, durable, and water-repellent with a quick-dry lining that’s perfect for keeping your feet dry on those day-long hikes. With a proprietary metatomical footbed design, Keen’s boots are anatomically engineered to support your arches and contour to your foot naturally. For a lighter, faster fit, Keen also makes the NXIS Evo Waterproof Boot, which sports a more athletic look but not at the cost of terrific heel and toe protection, comfort, and durability.

Whether it’s because of the combination of great looks and high performance or simply because you know you will be supporting a company with their hearts truly in the right place, KEEN shoes will be a decision we know you’ll be comfortable with.

What is the Most Helpful Hiking Gear to Have?

Considering the need to carry ample hydration, some snacks, sunscreen, and perhaps even shelter if you are combining your day hike with a camping trip, we’d say one of the most helpful pieces of hiking equipment one can have is a high-quality pack. When we start making recommendations for packs, we always start with Gregory Packs.

Another member of The Conservation Alliance, Gregory has always operated by being mindful of its environmental footprint. We can’t think of a backpack more fitting to toss a Klean Kanteen in than theirs! From overhauling their boxing and shipping processes to be 21 percent less wasteful in terms of packaging and fuel, to designing products that last a lifetime and recycling and repurposing components, they are doing the right things when it comes to watching their environmental impact. Even with all of these excellent eco-friendly commitments, the best thing about Gregory is that they make some seriously high-quality backpacks, no matter if you need a bag for a day hike or a hydration pack for longer treks. Gregory not only helps you find the right product, but also will help educate you about how to achieve the perfect fit to your body and your needs.

Gregory’s Juno 24, for example, is an excellent option for a day hiker’s pack, designed for days where all you’re bringing with you are the essentials. It features ventilated Vaporspan suspension, large zippered hipbelt pockets, and an ActiveFlex Perforated shoulder harness with sternum strap that includes an integrated safety whistle. The pack’s lining is made of 40-percent post-consumer recycled 135D polyester, too. Gregory has tons of great options depending on your hiking needs. Your hike definitely needs a solid backpack, and this is the first place we would start.

Other Essential Gear for Hiking and Trailing

ENO Hammocks

You’ve hiked long and hard, and you deserve a reset. And what feels better than having a snooze in a hammock after a long, rewarding hike? Knowing that your purchase of that hammock is contributing to planting even more trees to hang hammocks between. Eagles Nest Outfitters (ENO) contributes one percent of its annual sales to supporting non profit organizations that help the environment, and they partner with Trees for the Future to plant two trees for each hammock they sell. If your hike takes you out into the woods and you want to elevate and relax with a clear conscience, check out ENO’s TechNest Hammock–it’s their top-tier hammock and supports up to 350 pounds, made from 100-percent recycled nylon and treated with PFC-free water repellent. Plus, the whole 9.5-foot package, folded up, fits into a handy bag the size of a football, making it a perfect, easily transportable addition to your small-impact visit to nature. Their SingleNest hammock is a great selection for the solo hiker, made of compact and lightweight FreeWave fabric and spacious, at 9.5 feet long. It also comes with an integrated stuff sack and specially designed carabiners.

Photo: ENO

Photo: Mammut

Outdoor Clothes and Activewear

When you simply love the Great Outdoors, it becomes obvious every day why we should work to preserve them. Mammut is one of the world’s premier outdoor clothing brands, focused on outfitting mountain sport enthusiasts. But even though their excellent line of jackets, vests, shirts, and more are all made with climbers in mind, the high level of quality hiking clothes belongs in your wardrobe, too. From clothing and footwear to backpacks and bags, Mammut makes terrific products, such as their Lithium 50 backpack. Spacious and designed with long hikes in mind, the Lithium 50 is made of recycled materials—you know we love that—and PFC-free water-repellent. It’s a super comfortable bag with an integrated rain cover and tons of storage compartments for easy access, as well as handy compression straps. If your hikes get to be more on the long, intense side, Mammut’s products will stand up to whatever challenges you can throw at them because they were created to brave the highest mountains—literally.


A day spent hiking in the sun can be rough on your eyes without the proper protection, but Zeal Optics makes sunglasses that will protect your eyeballs in style–while also being part of a planet-friendly corporate campaign that we are proud to partner with. Zeal contributes one percent of its gross sales to environmental causes as part of the 1% for the Planet initiative, and also donates to environmental preservation nonprofits. Their frames are made of a combination of recycled plastics and plant-based materials, offering a rare combination of quality polarized eye protection and environmental friendliness.

Plus, Zeal has a huge selection of different frames in multiple colors and styles at reasonable prices–truly, designer looks without designer prices. With 52 frames to choose from, you’re sure to be able to find the right pick that matches you style, no matter what that is–whether it’s a thicker, hefty frame that will give off a sportier vibe or something a little more retro chic better befitting a more casual hike with friends, Zeal almost assuredly has something for you.

Best Camping Gear to Take on a Three-Day Hike

Sleeping Bags & Tents

If you are gearing up for a much longer hiking excursion—one that spans multiple days, even—it goes without saying that you’ll need to plan and prepare with a little more intensity. Above all else, arguably, you want to be able to rest adequately, and to do that, a premium quality sleeping bag is paramount. Even better is a sleeping bag that helps you minimize your footprint, and that’s why we love Big Agnes bags.

Comfort and quality are at the core of Big Agnes’ sleeping bags, but still not at the cost of sustainability. Big Agnes is a member of the Outdoor Industry Association's Climate Action Corps and has made product innovations to help reduce energy, wastwater and chemical use in their manufacturing processes, like tents with solution-dyed fabrics and a sleeping pad made with materials harvested in a carbon-negative process. All of their sleeping bags feature insulation ranging from 50 to 100-percent recycled materials.

Plus, all three of their US facilities run 100-percent on renewable energy. With comfy, cocoon-like bags designed to work with insulating sleeping pads and their commitment to sustainability, Big Agnes is our natural recommendation for your multi-day hiking trips. They also make a large selection of sleeping pads, tents, camping furniture, clothing, and accessories to fully outfit your hike. If you’re going to be on the trail for days at a time, you’re not going to be reveling in utmost comfort around the clock, of course—but the downtime you do have should be as restorative as possible.

Big Agnes tents are designed to be ultra-portable and lightweight, too, making them a perfect companion for longer hikes without giving up an inch when it comes to features. The materials they use in their tents are light and strong, and the tents are designed to create maximum space and comfort when unpacked while condensing to a handy, portable size when you pick up camp. If the trail is going to be your home away from home for a couple of days, a Big Agnes tent is an awesome piece of equipment to own.

Food Storage

Elevate your dining game on your next long hiking trip, and do it while leaving zero waste. Not only will our 18/8 stainless steel canisters keep your food sanitary and fresh for hours, but with their stackable design, leak-proof lids, and various sizes, you can shift the entire notion of how to keep your trail sustenance fresh. Our TKCanisters feature the trademarked TK Closure internal thread design for increased thermal performance and Climate Lock double-wall vacuum insulation. Available in 8, 16, and 32-oz. sizes and dishwasher-safe as well, our canisters are just one step closer to our goal of eliminating single-use containers for everything–including food.

Quality, convenience, and environment-friendliness are all combined in our complete set of Food Boxes, making them a must-have for any hiker planning on turning their excursion into a multi-day experience involving a camp session. Light but incredibly sturdy, they are perfect to toss in a backpack on a hike, and with durable

BPA-free stainless steel and a food-grade silicone lid, Klean Food Boxes are plastic-free and easy to clean. All three sizes come with leakproof, press-fit lids with flexible corners for easy venting. No matter where you’re headed, get the complete set and take to-go food anywhere. Nearly as light as plastic containers but far more durable, these reusable lunch boxes and bento boxes were designed for adventure–just as handy and reliable as hiking gear as they are for winter camping. And, with three different sizes–7, 20, and 34 ounces–you can build a set completely customized to your meal needs. All three boxes stack together in a perfect rectangle, further making them a cinch to bundle up and take on the go.

What is the Best Water Bottle for Hiking?

Klean Kanteen Insulated Bottles

No matter where your hike takes you, the key to an eco-friendly hiking adventure is versatility: If you want to pack the most functionality into the fewest number of items, it doesn’t get much more versatile than our Insulated water bottles, which feature a number of interchangeable caps to match any activity. From a day-long hike with the twist cap to rock climbing with the chug cap, all Klean Kanteen insulated bottles have a streamlined profile optimized for easy grip, packing, carrying and drinking, and they fit in most backpack pockets–sure to please the hikers out there who prepared with a high-quality pack. The mouth opening fits ice cubes and fills and pours easily. Depending on the size of the bottle you choose, you can keep cold drinks cold for 33-145 hours, and hot drinks hot from 11-47 hours.

Klean Kanteen TKPro

Beautiful aesthetics, plastic-free drinking, and outstanding performance: the TKPro has it all, and is one of our favorite products to bring along for hiking and backpacking. With an integrated double-wall stainless steel cup and 360-degree pour-through functionality, the TKPro line features our TK Closure™ internal thread design, which provides cutting-edge thermal performance for both hot and cold beverages. When it comes to being staying hydrated and prepared with cold, clean water on your hiking trips, the TKPro is your built-to-last solution and is available in 16, 25, and 32 oz. bottles. Like most Klean Kanteen products, the TKPro offers two different insulation ranges. You can expect your beverage to stay cold for 75 to 100 hours, meaning you can stay hydrated well into your multi-day hiking adventure.

Best Hiking Equipment For New Hikers

All of the eco-friendly hiking equipment we’ve listed above will probably already be on veteran hikers’ radars. But if you are new to hiking, you’re probably wondering what basics you’ll absolutely need for your first “real” hike before you decide to go all-in on some high-quality equipment. Here is a list of basics that are always good to bring on more intense hikes:

Photo: Big Agnes

Hiking backpack

As mentioned before, Gregory makes excellent, environmentally conscious choices backpacks that are great for hikers of all experience levels. Mammut and Big Agnes, on top of being outstanding camping gear suppliers and outfitters, manufacture high-quality backpacks and bags, too. With recycled polyester and other sustainable materials, these three brands are ones we can confidently recommend, whether you’re looking to try out hiking as a new hobby or ready to invest in a long-lasting backpack for more frequent, intense hikes.

Quality shoes or boots

Many first-time hikers are underprepared for arguably the most important part of their hike: protecting their feet. Keeping out moisture while providing ample traction and grip are key, and Keen makes boots that not only handle those demands, but do so with high-quality construction made from recycled materials. Keen has a wide variety of styles to meet the needs of all levels of hiking expertise, from beginners to veteran hikers.

Photo: Mammut

Weather-appropriate clothing

Think moisture-wicking materials and multiple layers. Day-long hikes, and obviously multi-day hikes, will feature dramatic temperature and possibly moisture changes, and you don’t want to be ill-equipped when that happens.

Ample food and water

This one almost goes without saying. You want to make sure you keep your energy and hydration levels up on your hike, so keep your body fueled by bringing quick snacks and plenty of water. Our food storage options and many insulated bottles are perfect choices to bring fresh, healthy sustenance on your hike.

Other accessories

It’s a good idea to keep navigation tools, like a map and compass, on hand if you’re venturing to areas with poor reception where your smartphone won’t function as your nav system. Additionally, it’s wise to carry a compact first-aid kit, as well as a high-quality knife and potentially even a multi-tool, to make quick fixes to your gear if needed. Lastly, don’t forget sunscreen! If you are planning on taking a dip in a natural water source somewhere along your hike, opt for an environmentally safe mineral sunscreen.

There are many more great companies out there producing excellent, eco-friendly items that will help you take your hikes to the next level, while leaving nature just as you found it. When shopping for quality sustainable products, we suggest starting your search by reviewing brands that are registered as B-Corporations and/or Certified Climate Neutral.

Gear up for your hikes by focusing on buying reusable, quality products made by companies who care about the environment. This is a surefire way to give back to nature so we all can keep enjoying it for generations to come.