Have a closer look at outdoor fashion

When we go out into nature and go on an adventure, we want to be highly functionally equipped so that we don’t freeze, get wet and can still move sportily and well. Unfortunately, a large part of outdoor fashion consists of materials that are neither good for us nor for nature. Let’s take a closer look.

As already described in our article on plastics, there are some challenges for the environment and humans due to plastic. Most outdoor clothing is made of plastic.

PFCs (per- and polyfluorinating chemicals) are used to make outdoor clothing functional. The higher the water column in our clothing, the more chemicals. These substances are said to have a negative effect on fertility, the immune system and the thyroid gland or can cause cancer.

Greenpeace is campaigning hard against the use of the toxic substances with a Detox campaign. PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid), for example, has been largely banned from being produced or marketed on the European market since 2020. Experts can prove that children’s blood levels of PFOA are too high. We ingest the substances through food and drinking water.

Polyester (plastic) is produced from petroleum and is a relatively inexpensive resource and therefore very common. The disadvantage is that it takes hundreds of years for it to decompose. Worn-out clothes are therefore often burned. In addition, washing clothes releases microplastic particles into wastewater and later groundwater and oceans. Both the production of polyester and the common recycling at the End of the life cycle cause a lot of CO2 emissions, more than cotton.

The good news is, there are very good alternatives nowadays. Jackets made from natural materials that use natural waxes and paraffins that are better for the environment and for us. They are even partially compostable and can be returned to the natural cycle, in line with the cradle-to-cradle principle (circular economy).

Besides plastic, there are alternatives made of natural fibres like merino wool. They are convincing in terms of function. However, since it is of animal origin, it is not for many vegans. Animal-friendly practices often do not exist in sheep farming. Therefore, it is important to make sure that the wool is mulesing-free. It refers to the removal of the skin around the tail of sheep without anaesthesia.

Down jackets are also of natural origin, but non-vegan. When choosing a down jacket, make sure that it complies with the RDS Responsible Down Standard.

These alternatives are usually much more expensive, but they have a higher resale value. The share of recycled materials is growing, which is a good option.

More and more second-hand online shops are also specialising in outdoor fashion and well-known brands offer second-hand, which is much cheaper and has the best ecological balance in comparison. You can also find things at flea markets.

Take-back systems and repairs are also slowly becoming established. The longer we make use of our clothes, the better.

We can make a contribution above all by buying less new clothing.

The outdoor market is really booming. Do we need the perfect functional clothing for every sporting activity? If we choose new clothes carefully and wear them for a long time, we save resources. Most of the time, we don’t even need the high-tech solutions for our adventures.

What to look for in outdoor fashion:

Just look at the label so you know roughly what you are dealing with. Pay attention to keywords and labels/certificates.


PFC free

fluorocarbon free DWR

fair, sustainable

bionic finish

eco waxes

animal friendly

pollutant free

But beware, even if it says fluorocarbon free, jackets can still contain it. That’s why it makes sense to look at the relevant studies at Stiftung Warentest and Ökotest.


e.g. bluedesign

oeko-Tex Standard 100

Fair Wear


Responsible Down Standard



Nachhaltiger Warenkorb.de

Stiftung Warentest


Beobachter Umwelt


Photocophyright:  Boxed Water Is Better auf Unsplash