I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote

- Herman Melville



Feb 28, 2017

5 Brands at ISPO 2017 NOT Just Jumping on the “Eco-Bandwagon”

ISPO Munich 2017 had no shortage of technically advanced—and neon coloured, outdoor gear and clothing.


Alyssa Fowler

But it was the brands with eco-friendly and sustainability embedded in their DNA that stood-out most.

Each year, over 2,600 international exhibitors in the outdoor, health and fitness, and adventure sports industry make their way to Munich to present their latest and greatest—at an overwhelmingly large event. Knowing the week (or this article) would not be long enough to spend time with every brand and list what they were bringing to the world for 2017, we were instinctively attracted to the brands sharing similar core values as us at The Outdoor Journal.

Experience, enjoy and above all protect the outdoors.

Photo courtesy of Berg Outdoor

While some companies have seemed to hop on the “eco-bandwagon” for marketing purposes (not that it’s necessarily a bad thing, we’ll take their efforts either way), it was those that have these principles embedded everything they do that stuck out most during ISPO Munich 2017.


It comes as no surprise that Patagonia would be on this list. Known for decades as a heavyweight in the the outdoor industry as a company who’s pushed the boundaries on what a company should be and what it should stand for—especially by anyone who’s read Let My People Go Surfing, Patagonia has continued to question how they produce and how that affects the planet.

At this year’s ISPO, the Patagonia stand was not dedicated to their new ‘top of the line’ products and advances in design, but highlighted something that should go entirely against what a brand trying to sell, sell, sell, would do—get people to fix what they already own.

Worn Wear

The idea: take care of the clothes you already have so you don’t have to buy more. They also emphasise the stories behind your favourite clothes and how important it is to keep those memories—along with the jacket that you made them with.

Patagonia If it's broke

Patagonia CEO, Rose Marcario notes that this can be seen as a radical act, “fixing something we might otherwise throw away is almost inconceivable to many in the heyday of fast fashion and rapidly advancing technology, but the impact is enormous.” She said in a press release that “as individual consumers, the single best thing we can do for the planet is to keep our stuff in use longer.”

This year, they’ll be touring around in busses, not only to colleges, to fix your clothes for free and educate people on the benefits as they go. Find out where they’re going and when they’ll be close to you!
USA tour dates
European tour dates starting March 24th and will be announced March 9th (stay tuned!)

Berg Outdoor

Born in Portugal in 2002, Berg Outdoor understands that as an outdoor brand, protecting nature needs to be one of their main interests. They are a member of the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA), raising funds to give directly to conservation projects. Their efforts to find the ideal balance between the high-quality products expected by their consumers and the need to contribute to the planet was clear in their latest ISPO award winning sneaker.

The Jindo
A functional, reinvented version of the original model made 100% from natural and recyclable materials, including artisanal Portuguese Burel wool and cork.

More about who Berg Outdoor is and what they do here.


For many years, this Swedish company has been trying to redefine what consumption should be for people. Not only do they rent shell garments and offer second-hand clothes for sale in their stores, thus enabling more people to use fewer products, but have focused their efforts on promoting a circular economy, where products are produced, used and disposed of in a circular system instead of a linear. They have devoted themselves to using as many recycled materials as possible (often from their worn-out products), and making their products easily repaired or recycled after use—no waste. They have even teamed up with Albaeco and the Stockholm Resilience Centre to initiate a holistic environmental evaluation: the first ever corporate Planetary Boundaries Assessment.

rental_3110 Houdini
Introducing rentals in 2013, it is now possible to rent shell garments from all Houdini stores. Photo courtesy of Houdini

Two of their most recent, highlighted products coming out later this year:

Made to move
“Made to Move” with the Houdini Rollercaoster

A completely circular product. It’s made from recycled polyester and is fully recyclable. The jacket also features a wax-based water repellent that’s completely free of fluorocarbon (a toxic substance often used as a coating or inside the fabrics themselves which causes harm to both people and the environment). The coat is designed to be easily repairable, but is also intended to be a breakthrough in it’s wearer feeling free to move more than any other before it.

“When we created our most advanced hard shell we wanted to change the way it feels to wear a shell. To achieve a feeling of full freedom of movement, we had to rethink the foundations of the design process. Instead of a traditional 2-dimensional pattern construction, we decided to drape the garment from a single piece of fabric on a body replicating the movements of mountaineering and freeride skiing.” says Jesper Danielsson at Houdini Design Team.

The Cloud
This progressive insulation garment is fully recyclable—at the same level as a polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle, and made with recycled polyester. Also using the same fluorocarbon-free water repellant as the Rollercoaster, it is designed to keep you warm and dry whether you’re walking around the city or on a mountaineering expedition. It’s many buttons even enables the wearer to transform it into a blanket, elephant foot for your sleeping bag, a pillow and a baby sleeping bag.

Find out more about all the projects Houdini is involved in to protect our most valuable resource here.

Picture Organic Clothing

Started by three childhood friends from very different backgrounds, the goal was to build their dream outerwear company up from a base of being an environmental action outdoor brand—all product design and principles had to stem from that purpose. They are continuously challenging design practices which has earned them multiple product innovation awards at ISPO, their latest highlight being their most eco-friendly wetsuit.

Picture Organic wetsuits

Picture organic wetsuitPicture Eco Suits
Searching for an alternative to the rarely recyclable and polluting neoprene found in most wetsuits (other companies like Patagonia and Vissla making a big push towards this being set as the norm in wetsuits as well), they cut their carbon footprint in half by inventing NaturalPrene stretch technology—85% natural rubber from a Malaysian plantation and 15% synthetic chlorine-free rubber (made from plants), and adding micro particles to allow it to stretch up to 4 times its size. It boasts maximum comfort and ultra-fast drying. They have the suits available in a wide-range of styles and for both men and women.

For the story behind Picture Organic Clothing and everything else they’re up to, check out their website.


Forests before fabrics. Photo courtesy of PrAna.

As they’ve done for more than 20 years, this Californian brand centres itself around clothing and gear made with intention—carefully designing every detail to both complement people’s active lifestyles while still considering the needs of tomorrow. Their very first products were even labelled with homemade tags made from recycled paper and the orders shipped in leftover fruit boxes from local grocery stores. As of one of the first major apparel companies to offer Fair Trade certified clothing, they have continued with their commitment in offering more bluesign® certified lines, introducing the use of traceable, responsible down (according to the independent Responsible Down Standard – RDS) and PFC-free durable water repellent (DWR) into production. They have also done a lot of work to promote working with hemp in their own clothes and trying to give it a new, up-graded reputation in the industry.

PrAna products are 100% Responsible Down. Photo courtesy of PrAna.

Being called a “kind of wonder crop”, hemp doesn’t require any chemical pesticides, fertilisers or treatments during cultivation, harvest and processing. This makes it safer for the farmers that grow it as well as the land it’s grown on and makes it easier for people to answer the questions consumers are starting to care more about: where did this come from and what is its impact?

To find out more about PrAna’s commitment to sustainability and all the many ways they’re making a difference, head to their website.

Are there any brands we didn’t speak to that you think have always had eco-consciousness and sustainability at the core of what they do? Let us know who they are and why in the comments.


Feature image courtesy of Berg Outdoor.

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Athletes & Explorers

Oct 19, 2018

Outdoor Moms: Hilaree Nelson – Mother of Two, Mountaineering Hero to All

2018 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, ski descent of the Lhotse Couloir, ski descent of Papsura, first woman to summit two 8,000m peaks in 24 hours… mother of two.



Brooke Hess

‘Outdoor Moms’ is a new series, profiling mothers pursuing their sport, all while taking care of family. You can read the first article on world-famous kayaker, Emily Lussin, here.

“You know just when you have that skin crawl on the back of your neck. Like, we are not in a good place. We need to move.”

One week ago, Hilaree Nelson was in Nepal completing one of the biggest expeditions of her 20 year ski mountaineering career. Today, she is sitting at home in Telluride, Colorado, just having finished the hectic morning routine of packing lunches and getting her two kids to school on time.

She is telling me the story of when her crew got stuck in a storm between Camp 1 and Camp 2. Instead of pushing on through the whiteout, they decided to set up an interim camp and wait it out. “We were all huddled in this little single-wall, three-person tent. It was storming out pretty good and we started hearing avalanches coming down… One avalanche was a little too loud and a little too close, so we left the tent standing and we got out and started trying to navigate in the whiteout.” Once the weather cleared, the team safely made their way to Camp 2. Two days later, Nelson and her climbing partner, Jim Morrison, returned to the interim camp to gather the gear they had left behind. What they found was the remains of a massive avalanche that had ripped across the camp, scattering gear everywhere and throwing it into crevasses. “It was a little crazy. We were kinda like, ‘oh wow I am really glad we didn’t stay there’.”

Photo by Nick Kalisz Courtesy of The North Face

Less than two weeks later, Nelson and Morrison found themselves atop the summit of Mt. Lhotse, the fourth highest mountain in the world. Four hours after that, they both arrived back at Camp 2, having just completed the first ever ski descent of the Lhotse Couloir.

Skiing a 50 degree slope for 7,000 feet would be an impossible task for some of the most dedicated skiers out there. Add in the fact that they did it at 8,000 meters elevation after spending the previous 14 hours on a summit push, and the feat becomes unimaginable.

Read about Hilaree’s Lhotse Expedition here.

Photo by Nick Kalisz Courtesy of The North Face

For Nelson, who has previously skied both Cho Oyu in Tibet and Papsura in India, this achievement is one of the highlights of her career.
But her career as a ski mountaineer is only half of her life.

Nelson’s two sons, Graydon and Quinn, are the other half.

Summit of Wilson Peak, Telluride, CO. Graydon and Quinn’s second 14’er.

“I got home (from Nepal) Sunday night, and Monday morning I was freaking out making kids’ lunches and trying to get the kids to school on time”

“I have two boys. They are 9 and 11. Graydon is the younger one and Quinn is the older one. They are crazy little boys… They are really into skiing, they are both alpine racing, they are currently in mountain biking camp after school, they go to climbing club after school, and they are really obsessed with lacrosse. And they both really like math too!” Between expeditions, working as The North Face team captain, and being a mother of two, it is a wonder Hilaree is able to juggle it all. And from what it sounds like, both her kids are on a path towards being just as busy as she is!

Instead of letting the busy schedules stress her out, Nelson embraces it.
“I got home (from Nepal) Sunday night, and Monday morning I was freaking out making kids’ lunches and trying to get the kids to school on time. It just doesn’t miss a beat… It’s fun to be a mother.”

As Nelson talks about motherhood, her face lights up with pride. “I like how unpredictable it is. I’ve always been a bit terrified of every day being the same, and kids are a sure-fire way to make every day different and an unknown adventure.” Nelson describes the unpredictability of her children as one of her favorite parts of being a mom. As she recounts the chaos of motherhood, I can’t help but think how this mirrors the other half of life. Weather forecasts, snowpack predictions, snowpack stability, and even personal mental and physical strength are all factors that can be unpredictable during a ski mountaineering expedition, much like children can be unpredictable during motherhood.

Nelson climbs Skyline Arete with younger son, Graydon.

“It is not that I put being a mother away, but I do have to compartmentalize it a little bit”

Taking on two very different roles as both mother and mountain athlete requires a unique mindset that Nelson has adapted over the past 11 years. “The emotional roller coaster I ride is sometimes very difficult on my kids. I am so stressed to leave them before I go on a trip, and then I turn into that climber person. It is not that I put being a mother away, but I do have to compartmentalize it a little bit so I can focus on what I am climbing. Then when I come home, it is really hard to switch back into mother. You know, I am full mother when I am home. I am in the classroom, I am picking them up from sports, I am taking them to ski races, cooking them dinner, making them lunch. I am just mom, like what moms do. It is almost like I am two different people living in one body.”

Nelson’s somewhat double identity life is what defines her. But it didn’t come easy. She describes her comeback from childbirth as the single most difficult challenge she has had to overcome. “Getting back to being an athlete after having babies was about the hardest thing I have ever done. In fact, it was so difficult that it almost makes climbing and expeditions look easy.” Her first son was born via a relatively “easy” c-section. Her second… not so easy. Hours of surgery for both mother and son, combined with blood loss and blood poisoning resulted in Nelson taking an entire year off from athletics.

By the time she returned to training and to the mountains, her mental strength had taken a huge hit. “I pushed hard to get back in it, but it was really difficult. It was really challenging on my confidence.”

All challenges aside, getting back into it was worth it. Having just completed one of the most iconic ski descents in history, Nelson was eager to show her boys some media from the Lhotse expedition. Nelson’s recount of their response made me giggle. “They looked at some video stuff of it yesterday and some photos… I mean, they are hard to impress, my kids.” With notable ski descents around the world, as well as being the first woman to climb two 8,000 meter peaks in 24 hours (Everest and Lhotse), and being named a 2018 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, I am actually not surprised her sons are so hard to impress. She has set the bar pretty high!

Nelson says the boys are finally at an age where they are starting to become aware of what her career means. One of the most challenging aspects of it – long stretches away from home. Recently having gone through a difficult divorce, the challenge of leaving her kids for long periods of time becomes even more apparent. When she is in Nepal, the kids stay with their father. With the recent addition of 3G internet access to Everest Base Camp, it has been easier for her to stay in touch with her kids. However, a month is still a month, and time spent away isn’t easy. Nelson says she used to feel guilt when she left her kids, but now she has learned to view her career as a positive influence in their lives. “It has taken a long time for me to realize that having my job and being a mother has been beneficial to my kids for them to see me be a person, individually, and trust in that. It was a struggle for me for a long time that I was hurting my kids by continuing my profession. But I see now their joy and their support for what I do, and we can have rational conversations about it. I see that they are proud of me. I see that they appreciate what I do, and see me as a person. So I think it has all been worth it, but it wasn’t without a lot of tears and a lot of difficult times.”

“I don’t think they fully appreciate the dangers of it, but I also think they understand that it is dangerous”

Another challenge of her career – the danger. Ski mountaineering is one of the most risky sports any mountain athlete can partake in. At ages 9 and 11, Nelson’s kids are just beginning to understand the danger associated with it. “Skiing and mountain climbing to them, it has always just been a part of their lives as long as they can remember. I don’t think they fully appreciate the dangers of it, but I also think they understand that it is dangerous. I don’t know if they are okay with it, but it’s just what I do, and they love what I do.”

The first time Graydon and Quinn skied in the rain. “Being from Washington State, I grew up skiing in the rain and it was fun to see my kids reaction to the adverse weather. Of course, they thought we were crazy…”

“Then they want to come to the Himalayas.”

Danger and challenges aside, Graydon and Quinn look up to their mom with the utmost admiration. The boys support her career, and are proud of her accomplishments. Between their mom’s career, as well as their own personal experiences, the boys have started viewing mountain sports less as hobbies, and instead, a way of life. “Both my boys consider skiing not even a sport for them. They learned it as soon as they learned how to walk. It’s just a way of life. It’s how they play.” Nelson says she isn’t going to push the boys into climbing and mountaineering. However, despite her lack of effort, both boys have already made a list of the mountains they hope to summit. “First they are going to climb Mt. Baker, and then Rainier, and then they want to climb Denali. Then they want to come to the Himalayas.”

Both boys have already been to Makalu base camp, as well as summited several 14,000ft peaks in Colorado. When they were ages four and six, they made it most of the way up Kilimanjaro, but in Nelson’s words, they were “a little bit little” to make it to the top.

Family time on Telluride Via Ferrata.

As much as the boys idolize her, Nelson is reminded every day that they are still kids. They go to school, they play tag at recess, they wrestle, fight, cry, laugh, and most of the time are completely unconcerned with Nelson’s career as a world-renowned ski mountaineer.

“The best thing in the world is going on these expeditions that mean so much to me, but then coming home and having kids that in some ways are oblivious to what I do and are just kids… It’s awesome. It’s just a great thing to have in my life.”

Photo by Nick Kalisz Courtesy of The North Face

Cover Photo by Nick Kalisz Courtesy of The North Face


Read about Hilaree Nelson’s ascent and ski descent of Papsura, The Peak of Evil here.

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