Tips on How to Make Outdoor Gear & Clothing More Sustainable

Rent an SUP for a few hours or a day from places like Wilderness Equipment Rentals in Banff

I know my outdoor adventures have an impact on the earth’s health. Ditto all my outdoor gear and clothing. But I love to camp, hike, bike, paddle, snowshoe and more – as these are the activities that bring me great joy and give meaning to my life. But going forward, I need to do what I can to make the outdoor gear and clothing I use more environmentally sustainable.

Fortunately, I hate any kind of waste – and always have. I’ve composted forever. Our food wastage is a fraction of the average Canadian household. We’ve only had one car, even with all the kid’s activities. I do my errands on my bike, or walk whenever I can.

I throw things on Facebook Marketplace regularly, and I don’t buy unnecessary stuff. And when it comes to our outdoor gear and clothing, I’m all in favour of buying quality over quantity from trusted outdoor brands with a dedication to sustainability.

So, what can you and I both do to make our outdoor gear and clothing more sustainable? How can we lengthen its lifetime? And if we can’t, what are the reputable companies making outdoor gear with a smaller environmental footprint?

That’s a question I’ve thought about for some time. Fortunately, where there’s a will, there’s a way. We can rent, repair, and recycle used outdoor gear and clothing and going forward – purchase new outdoor gear made by companies who value the planet.

Here’s a look at options to make your outdoor gear and clothing more sustainable.

This post includes some affiliate links. If you make a qualifying purchase through one of these links, I will receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you. Thank you very much for your support.

Our tent had one small hole in the netting that we patched with Gear-Aid tape years ago now
Our tent had one small hole in the netting that we patched with Gear-Aid tape years ago now

1. Rent, borrow, swap, or consign outdoor gear – one of the most sustainable options

If you only need a canoe once a year for a week, you’re better off renting or borrowing from a friend, perhaps in return for a couple of bottles of wine. The same goes for campers, bikes, tents and anything else you only use once or twice a year.

One organization that can help you with that is Quupe. Their tagline is “rent almost anything from people nearby.” From what I’ve seen, there is lots of photography and camping equipment for rent on their website.

In Canmore check out Wilderness Equipment Rentals. They rent everything from SUP’s to camping and trekking equipment as well as satellite communication devices. They also offer a gear repair and cleaning service and sell-off some of their old rental equipment.

Of course there are many companies that rent gear in every city and national park in North America, so do some research before making a big purchase. Life is easier with less, not more.

Buying used rental gear is a great way to get the gear you want inexpensively. We have snowshoes that are now 25 years old that we bought at a huge discount. I don’t think they’ll ever wear out.

Universities are another great place to rent gear. A case in point is the Calgary Outdoor Centre at the University of Calgary. You’ll find everything including camp stoves, tarps, sleeping bags, and kayaks to list but a small fraction of what they offer.

Gear swaps

Be sure to check out gear swaps. There is a Calgary area outdoor gear swap page on Facebook – and I’m sure loads of cities across North America offer the same thing.

Consign your old outdoor gear and clothes

Most cities have outdoor consignment shops. It’s a great way to get rid of your outdoor clothing and outdoor gear in return for cash or a store credit. Switching Gear YYC consigns everything from sunglasses to backpacks, and Thermarests to microspikes.

The ultimate sustainable outdoor gear and clothing is the stuff you rent
The ultimate sustainable outdoor gear and clothing is the stuff you rent – this set-up from Wilderness Equipment Rentals in Canmore. Photo credit: Mandy Johnson

2. Repair Outdoor Gear

My biggest pet peeve with outdoor clothing is the basic zipper. I don’t want to throw out a piece of clothing just because of a bum zipper. In my experience, it’s the number one thing that breaks on everything – raincoats, winter coats, fleeces, shorts, pants, tents – you name it.

Fortunately, it and most other outdoor gear and clothing failures can be fixed.

Outdoor gear and clothing repair options in Canada and the US

MEC – MEC stores are equipped to handle small repairs like zipper pulls and often stock replacement poles and parts. Many MEC stores work with third party gear repairers. Contact your local store and they can point you in the right direction.

Gear re-Store – With locations in Calgary, Denver, and Philadelphia, you can get premium gear repair with above average turnaround time – another important factor as we all know. They are also a 1% For the Planet member.

Arc’teryx – Send in clothing (but get a return authorization number first) and they will repair it or replace it, if the problem is a manufacturing defect.

Fjällräven – Some stores offer onsite repairs though it can take a few weeks. Call ahead to book your Fjällräven only clothing drop-off.

Spirit West – A Calgary-based company that saved me one time and fixed the shock card on my tent poles while I waited. They will also repair technical fabrics, do zipper replacements and add water repellency back to your favourite outdoor gear.

ReFasten – An Ottawa-based company that sells a wide range of repair pieces including zippers, zipper pulls, gatekeepers, shock cord, cord locks, D-rings, buckles, patterns for gear and much more.

Atelier Hors-piste – A Gatineau, Quebec-based company that specializes in the repair of outdoor equipment, shoes, leather, and fabric accessories including sleeping bags and tents.

Yanagi Repair Store – A Merrickville, Ontario company that will fix your well-loved items whether it be outdoor clothing or gear. He also fixes outdoor covers and leather items.

Renewt Technical Apparel Specialist – A Vancouver, BC company with a team of industry veterans from companies like Mustang and Arc’teryx. They can do technical repairs, alterations and technical washing and reactivating of waterproof (DWR) qualities.

At select Fjallraven stores around the country you'll find an onsite tailor and repair shop
At select Fjallraven stores around the country you’ll find an onsite tailor and repair shop

Repair outdoor gear with these products

3. Recycle outdoor gear and clothing

It can be hard to find good used outdoor clothing, but it’s worth doing as it reduces water, waste, and transportation emissions.


If you have old Arc’teryx gear – head to the nearest store and exchange eligible pieces for a gift certificate worth 20% of the original price. It can be used as a credit at one of the brand stores, online or at Note that in April 2024 only, you can get 30% back as a credit on your old outdoor clothing.

Facebook marketplace

Throw your used gear and clothing on Facebook marketplace. Name brands usually sell quickly and easily.


In the US, REI members can trade in gear for an e-gift card. Check the trade-in eligibility and credit value online. You can even mail in your clothing/gear for just $6.


Trade in the Patagonia clothing you don’t want any more in return for a credit of up to 50% of the resale price. Check before you visit a store. You can also send in eligible gear and clothing. Clothing like swimsuits, base layers and t-shirts are not accepted.

The North Face

The North Face offers a limited lifetime warranty on most products in an attempt to reduce the massive amount of textile products that end up in landfills! In the US there is something called the North Face Renewed Take Back where North Face members can bring in used gear to North Face retail or outlet stores and get a $10 credit. (I’m assuming per piece of gear.)

After the gear is dropped off it gets cleaned and repaired – and resold on North Face Circularity or donated.

Get a 20% credit online or instore when you return your used Arc'teryx clothing and gear
Get a 20% credit online or in store when you return your used Arc’teryx clothing and gear (there are some restrictions on types of returns)

4. Purchase sustainable outdoor gear and clothing brands

Every purchase you make from a sustainable outdoor brand supports environmentally-friendly policies like fair-trade, plastic-free packaging where possible, and using either recycled or upcycled materials. The first brand that comes to mind for me is Patagonia – founder of 1% For The Planet, an organization that now boasts 5,200 business members and 6,700+ environmental partners.

Other well-known brands with a good track record include Tentree, Cotopaxi, Icebreaker, Kuhl, Smartwool, Arc’teryx, prAna, Fjallraven, MEC, The North Face, La Sportiva, Rab, Vaude and REI.

5. Final thoughts on how to make the world a better place

We can all do our bit to make outdoor gear and clothing more sustainable. I hope for those of you who are keen to make a difference that this post has inspired you to buy less and recycle more of your old clothing and gear.

Every positive action you take – however small – can make a difference. And I think we’d all appreciate a healthier planet going forward.

What are the outdoor brands you love with a big commitment to the environment?

Outdoor adventures to fuel your soul

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

Tips on how to make outdoor gear and clothing more sustainable

My Cart Close (×)

Your cart is empty
Browse Shop