It has been more than a decade since Patagonia gave us fleece jackets made from recycled soda bottles. Since then, the greening of outdoor gear has gone both high tech and haute cuisine.
What's new: Pants, pullovers, and shirts made of bamboo, soy, and hemp ($40 to $60).
Eco-cred: The plants all grow quickly and without chemicals. Plus, bamboo is naturally antibacterial and antimicrobial.
Prospects: A fabric more breathable than cotton—and pesticide free? Bring it on!
What's new: Recycled polyester shirts ($30 and $35) reinforced with odor-absorbing carbon from coconut shells.
Eco-cred: A chemical-free process uses shells that would have been thrown out.
Prospects: A phenomenon in the making. Dozens of other brands are buying the same yarn from TrapTek LLC.
What's new: Hiking and running socks ($10.95 and $13.95) made from Ingeo, a corn-based fiber that stays drier than cotton.
Eco-cred: Corn is a renewable resource, of course. Teko uses nontoxic dyes, recycled boxes, and wind energy.
Prospects: Teko has won distribution at REI, L.L. Bean, and 248 other U.S. retailers.
4. Keen Footwear
What's new: A $60 sneaker, the "Ventura," made with organic cotton canvas and water-based glues.
Eco-cred: Keen's trail-running shoes come in biodegradable boxes, which it suggests using for compost.
Prospects: We prefer our garden cardboard-free. But water-based glues are hot.
“There seems to be a political and corporate 'Who's the greenest?' competition under way. Let's not complain. The more trendy environmental concerns become, the better.” —Andy Polaine