Patagonia and Howie's


It’s been awhile since I’ve hit the trail, but I’ve got a spring break this year, and dammit, I’m going to use it. Since I’m a student again, I have to vacation on the cheap, and so I’m headed to the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee/North Carolina. I’ve never really been to either state (I drove through NC once) so I’m looking forward to checking out the South (where it will hopefully be warmer in a month’s time!)

I’ve learned that any outdoor activity is better when you’re prepared for the varying weather conditions Mother Nature throws at you, and while I don’t need much, a couple new items are in order, especially those undies that wick away moisture (see below). When you’re hiking you need an extra layer, but cotton undies get damp and uncomfortable almost immediately.

After getting some great Christmas gifts at Patagonia this year for my boyfriend, I headed back to their site to check out what they had lined up for Spring, and there’s lots of cute and perfect-for-a-week-on-the-trail stuff. All of Patagonia’s cotton is organic (and super-soft too) and most of their fleeces are recycled (and recyclable). When I was in my local store, they informed me about how one tree only makes a few hundred paper bags (and then stuffed all my purchases into one, instead of using two or three), encouraged me to see An Inconvenient Truth, and convinced me to get a recycled cloth bag to use as gift-wrap (the bags are made from the scraps of material that are left over after huge bolts of cloth are cut up to make their clothes). They also have a great section on their site about the company’s activism, and you can search for clothes that are made with recycled materials or organic cotton separately, if that’s what you’re looking for.

patagonia 5
Figure-flattering coat made with recycled polyester.

patagonia 2
Sweat-wicking undies

patagonia 1
This pretty “Hempdons” dress is made from hemp, recycled polyester, and organic cotton.

patagnia 3
Climbing top of organic cotton with a bit of spandex.

Howie’s is a UK-based outdoor clothing company who also has a strong environmental commitment. As they say on their site, their clothes are for bikers, snowboarders, and skaters (but I’m sure it’s OK if you wear them for other activities). They also have a cute blog and a sweet philosophy they call the “Rocking Chair Test”: when they look back when they are old and grey they want to be proud of their company and products. Howies also donates 10% of pre-tax profits to environmental causes.

howies 3
Too-adorable mushroom hoodie made from leftover cotton fabric (pre-consumer recycling!)

Down-home cowgirl shirt in organic cotton

howies 1
organic cotton canvan “Freerider” jacket.

Starre Vartan is founder and editor-in-chief of Eco-Chick.com and the author of the Eco-Chick Guide to Life. She's also a freelance science and environment writer who has published in National Geographic, CNN, Scientific American, Mental Floss, Pacific Standard, the NRDC, and many more. She lives on an island in Puget Sound with her partner and black cat. She was a geologist in her first career, and still picks up rocks wherever she goes.