Hello and welcome to the brand new AMC Equipped blog! Over the coming months, I look forward to sharing all of the latest and greatest tidbits on outdoor gear, from the coolest products to the silliest, from ground-breaking gizmos to the tried and true stalwarts of the outdoor industry. I also plan on covering the buzz in the outdoor industry as a whole, from the latest trends to dying fads, hot new companies to long-time major players. I’ll be posting a new entry twice a week, complete with links to highlighted products and other online resources. Please let me know what topics are of particular interest to you, or if you have any questions or suggestions for future postings.
To begin, let’s start the first of many topics that will be ongoing throughout this blog: eco-gear. This includes outdoor equipment made from recycled materials or produced in an environmentally responsible manner. It’s a booming trend, with ever more products hitting the market. One gear category in particular stands out lately for its rapid greening: sleeping bags.
In 2009, The North Face, Marmot, and Big Agnes all feature sleeping bags made almost entirely from recycled materials. The North Face has introduced green versions of two of their iconic bags: The Cat’s Meow and The Blue Kazoo. Known as the Re Meow and Green Kazoo, respectively, the two bags both use polyester in their shells produced “using recycled water bottles, garment fabrics, and factory yarn waste.” The Re Meow (2 pounds, 11 ounces for regular length; $199) is stuffed with Climashield HL Green synthetic insulation—also produced entirely from recycled materials—and is rated to 20 degrees. The down-filled Green Kazoo is slightly warmer (15 degrees) but spendier ($279) and surprisingly heavier than its synthetic-fill counterpart (2 pounds, 12 ounces); the Eastern European down is not from a recycled source. You’ll also need to spend more: The Re Meow is $40 more than the virgin-materials—but otherwise identical—Cat’s Meow; the Green Kazoo is $30 more.
Marmot continues with its line of synthetic-fill EcoPro bags, available in 15-, 30-, and 40-degree versions (appropriately named the EcoPro 15, EcoPro 30, and EcoPro 40). They are all part of Marmot’s “UpCycle” program and feature polyester fabric produced entirely from old plastic soda bottles and their synthetic-fill EcoPro insulation made from 80 percent post-consumer waste. The bags are reasonably priced but on the heavy side.
EcoPro 15: 3 pounds, 4 ounces for regular length; $169
EcoPro 30: 2 pounds, 15 ounces; $159
EcoPro 40: 2 pounds, 1 ounce; $149
Marmot offers the EcoPro 15 in a women’s version and the EcoPro 30 in a kid’s version ($139).
Big Agnes features its recycled classic series, which includes the 20-degree-rated Skinny Fish and 35-degree Ripple Creek. Both of these synthetic-fill bags use Climashield Green HL for insulation, and recycled polyester fabrics. Big Agnes one-ups the competition by using recycled cords as well, plus cord locks made from 50 percent corn starch fabric (!). Like all of its other sleeping bags, Bag Agnes produces these two without any insulation in the bottom, replacing it with a sleeve for your ground pad (which provides nearly all your under-insulation no matter what bag you’ve got). This allows them to produce in a wide-body, extra-roomy style with an extra 6-8 inches of room inside. They are on the heavy side:
Skinny Fish: 3 pounds, 14 ounces for regular length; $179
Ripple Creek: 3 pounds, 6 ounces; $159
There’s a lot of other green gear out there, including tents, boots, backpacks, even camp booties, made largely from recycled materials. I’ll keep you posted!