Sustainability is quite a hard thing to measure when it comes to outdoor gear manufacture. OK, a jacket might be made out of recycled materials, but then there are other factors to consider, like the process of recycling, or the shipping of the product. There are also cases when a product might come with recycled materials but then have a membrane containing virgin plastics. In other words, there’s a lot to consider when looking for the best sustainable waterproof jacket.
And that’s why we’re going to say this up front: not all of the products on this page are totally impact free. What we’ve done here is select the brands and their products that display admirable, progressive efforts towards sustainability. Granted, some of them are carbon-neutral, and we’ll make sure to highlight those ones, but others will just be low-impact, and again, we’ll highlight those ones too. Rest assured, all of the brands included here are ones that, from what we’ve seen, are genuinely committed to lowering their impact on the environment.
Eco-Friendly Waterproof Jackets: What To Look For
Here are some of the aspects worth inspecting when you’re in search of a sustainably made waterproof jacket. The most sustainable waterproof shell will tick all of the following boxes.
Many brands are now using recycled materials in their products – in fact, it’s not far from becoming the norm. What you need to look out for, however, is the extent of these recycled materials, because some jackets might use a recycled face fabric but then virgin plastic will make up the rest of it, including the membrane, lining, zips etc.
By and large, recycled nylon tends to be stronger and more durable than recycled polyester, so that’s the material to look for. It’s less commonly seen, however, as the process of recycling is trickier and subsequently more expensive.
When buying a hardshell jacket, check whether it’s recyclable. If it is, brands will often state this on the product listing. Check out our advice on what to do with old outdoor gear for details on how you can go about recycling a jacket that’s no longer usable.
Far too many jackets get wasted simply because of something small like a zip malfunction. Thankfully, more and more brands are now making their jackets with repairability in mind. So, before making a purchase, just check what the brand (and reviewers) have said about the product’s repairability. It’s worth looking at whether the brand has its own repair policy.
Not so long ago, just about every waterproof jacket came with a durable water repellent treatment containing potentially eco-hazardous chemicals called PFCs. Fortunately, many brands are now shunning these and turning to alternatives but there are still cases where the chemicals are being used. Bear in mind that Gore-tex jackets will contain PFCs, though Gore states that these are a variant of no environmental concern.
The 10 Best Sustainable Waterproof Jackets Reviewed
Here’s our round up of what we consider to be the most eco-friendly waterproof jackets currently on the market. Follow the links with each one to read a full review from our gear test team.
- Páramo Velez – Best Sustainable Waterproof Jacket Tested
- Ortovox 3L Deep Shell
- Fjällräven High Coast Hydratic
- Helly Hansen Odin Mountain Infinity Pro
- Patagonia Dual Aspect
- Craghoppers Dynamic 12000
- Halti Next Generation Jacket
- Klättermusen Allgron 2.0
- Montane Pac Plus XT
- Columbia OutDry Ex Eco Tech II
Best Buy: Páramo Velez
Eco rating: 9/10
This jacket is very different to all the other jackets on this page and that’s because it doesn’t use a waterproof membrane. Instead, it uses something called Nikwax Analogy which is basically a combination of quick drying synthetic fabrics that are treated with a special Nikwax hydrophobic solution. You know that clammy feeling you get in a jacket with a membrane like Gore-tex? You don’t get that with this system from Páramo and that’s why it’s perfect for any wet weather hikes in mild temperatures and/or during strenuous activity. And what’s particularly good about Nikwax is that it’s water based and contains no hazardous chemicals – so no PFCs then. What’s more, the materials used for the Velez are all fair trade certified and the jacket can be recycled at the end of its life.
OK Páramo isn’t 100% waterproof, but from our experience, it’ll keep you dry in all but the most prolonged and vicious of downpours, and even then, the fabric dries extremely quickly, so you won’t end up staying wet for long when the rain eases.
Read our full Páramo Velez review
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Patagonia Dual Aspect
Eco rating: 9/10
This is the first ever H2No waterproof jacket from Patagonia that doesn’t contain any PFCs. The brand certainly took its time to make this move, their excuse being that they weren’t happy with the durability and performance of any of the PFC-free alternatives available. After extensive tests throughout a Cairngorm winter, they’re apparently satisfied with what they’ve developed.
As well as being PFC-free, this 3-layer alpine shell is made with a 100% recycled ripstop nylon face fabric and it’s Fair Trade Certified sewn.
Useful details include two-way pit zips for ventilation, a built in RECCO reflector and harness/hipbelt friendly pockets.
Read our full Patagonia Dual Aspect review
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Ortovox 3L Deep Shell
Eco rating: 9/10
This hardy shell jacket for backcountry skiers and mountaineers is climate neutral according to German brand Ortovox. That means it was produced in the most environmentally friendly way possible, whilst any unavoidable CO2 emissions have been offset.
It uses a waterproof system, called Demizax EV, that contains no PFCs and that doesn’t require reproofing. From our experience of this membrane, it’s got an impressively long performance lifespan, meaning you should get a good number of years out of this thing.
The merino insulation that lines sections of this, including on the chest and on the chin, is all ethically sourced and produced in line with the brand’s own wool promise and it’s manufactured under fair working conditions in conformity with the Fair Wear Foundation.
Read our full Ortovox 3L Deep Shell review
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