Gear and Safety Essentials

Stocked backpack
Outdoor recreation can lead us to seek the best tools and techniques, but wilderness conservation requires us to be thoughtful consumers.

Exploring wilderness necessitates carrying certain supplies and taking particular precautions. Here’s a guide to greening your gear and some expert tips for staying safe.

Green gear 101

Outdoor recreation companies know their customers and many cater to those looking to shrink their carbon footprint. There are some conscientious products on the market that you may want to consider purchasing when the need arises.

Hiking and backpacking

Turn to companies that use fabric made from recycled plastic bottles. This type of backpack can save an average of 12 two-liter bottles from the landfill.


Look for skis and snowboards made with a renewable wood, such as bamboo or Paulownia.


Purchase tents that are less toxic by making sure they are PVC-free and solvent-free with poles made from recyclable aluminum (also referred to as green anodizing).

Vote with your wallet

If you really want to support thoughtful business practices, ask the sales clerk if the gear you are buying was built by a member of the Outdoor Industry Association. The OIA supports:

  • Conservation funding to protect wild public lands
  • Important industry tools like the Eco Index
  • Common sense solutions for resolving conflicts between different outdoor recreation groups

Common sense essentials

For safe outdoor recreation, clothing and gear should keep you: 

  • Comfortable and dry
  • Nourished and hydrated
  • Well-oriented and aware of your location
  • Prepared in case of injury

Knowledge is your best tool

“Rules are for fools,” said Paul Petzholdt, founder of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). Instead, the “father of outdoor leadership” believed in developing knowledge about your surroundings and the skills to deal with changing circumstances.

Resources for preparedness are available through NOLS courses, the Center for Wilderness Safety and your local parks and recreation department. 


Helpful links

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