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Should Outdoor Gear Cost the Earth?

Posted on March 02 2019

Should Outdoor Gear Cost the Earth?

The environment is high on the agenda at present. Global pollution, led by global warming, are serious issues that effect all our futures. Sustainability is the watch word, but it seems many give it lip service. When it comes to our wallet it tends to be forgotten. However, sustainability is all about the long-term impacts of our actions now. However, things that seem expensive at the time of purchase can turn out in the long term to be the cheaper option all round.

We had a gent in the shop recently who was asking about gaiters. He had gone through two pairs in about six months. Both had zip failures. I asked about the brand, and at the time speculated that the issue was poor quality. I guessed the brand correctly, (but I will not name and shame, I’m sure you can guess). He bought some Trekmates Cairngorm gaiters to replace them. A relatively cheep gaiter for the Gore-tex and construction, but more expensive than his others. I have had a pair now for just over a year, (you can see my review video here). I have used them frequently and they have given me excellent service in both mountain and dale. They are still on the go. So, my customers cheap gaiters turned out to be expensive, as they did not last. They are now in land film, (he asked me to put them in the bin). Energy and chemicals where used in their construction, that has added to the pollution load. So doubly expensive.

In another example, we had a gent that had bought a pair of approach shoes for £30 form a similar brand. They lasted a month. So very expensive. My Scarpa Vortex lasted me 18 months as first choice usage and are still in garden/building use some five years after buying. I can’t kill the uppers, although they do look tatty now. They seemed expensive, but do the maths, the £30 ones where actually very expensive in comparison.

Final example, Paramo. We hear a lot in the shop about Paramo being expensive. Well, I got my first Paramo in 2001. It’s still in front line usage! Below is the video of my using it last year, in the second beast from the east, in the Scottish Highlands. 17 years after purchase. Name me a jacket that can do this?

I can trade it in using the Paramo recycling scheme, (available at our store), for £50 of a new jacket. Paramo will then recycle the materials, (it stands as the only re-cyclable water-proof). Its already been made in an ethical way. In fact, I don’t know of a more environmentally or socially responsible clothing company, (please let me know if you do). People always mention Patagonia as an ethical brand, but they are no in the same league as Paramo for this.

If your accessing the outdoors for leisure and enjoyment, surly you would want to protect it? It sounds like a no-brainer. However, ever increasingly, the outdoors accessing public are buying disposable gear, on the belief that its cost effective. It isn’t, its literally costing the earth, (or the biosphere), and its expensive when you consider its longevity.


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