Environmental & Social Responsibility: How Outdoor Gear Brands Perform
A-Z List of Brands
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All scores are base on a basic letter grade. A is the best. F is the worst.
Brand ratings are based on the best available information on each brand from various sources such as: Official company CSR reports, public information provide by the company, other rating guides (CSRHub, EthicalConsumer, Rank A Brand) and anything else I can get my hands on.
Every company has an environmental and social footprint. Therefore if I was to rate a company based on its total impact, all companies would have very low scores. No companies are anywhere near having a zero impact, so instead the scores are relative so you can see how companies perform compared to others in the same industry. An A score represents a company that is outperforming all other outdoor brands and an F score represents brands that are the worst performers in the outdoor industry.
This guide represents an overall grade and brief summary of each company. For in depth information about each company and a list of resources, head to the dedicated company page by clicking on the learn more link in the company summary.
Outdoor Brands: Sustainability Rankings
Little to no transparency, owned by a parent corporation, and scored low on other ratings.
Compared to other brands in the outdoor industry Arc’teryx performs quite poorly, but isn’t the absolute worst. With the exception of some loosely worded information on their website, Arc’teryx does not provide much information about the sustainability of their company which is a red flag.
They are owned by Amer Corp which scores low on CSRHub (56/100) and while Amer Corp does publish a CSR report, it does not have information specific to Arc’teryx in it. Amer Corp’s CSR report contains loose language about their sustainability initiatives and does not set goals for improvement on key issues like emissions, energy use, or waste.
Big Agnes (F)
Little to no transparency and a lack of data.
Big Agnes received an F because they do not provide any information about the sustainability of their company or products other than the fact that their tentpole producer is in the process of reducing chemical use in their manufacturing process. They do not publish a CSR report or offer anything about their sustainability on their website.
Black Diamond (D)
Very low transparency, information on website consistent with greenwashing, and received low score from other ratings.
Black Diamond does not issue a CSR report and has very little information about their sustainability efforts on their website. The information they do write about includes some information about their efforts to utilize alternative energy sources, but they offer very few tangigle facts or figures that would indicate the overall impact they are having or how they are improving.
Black Diamond is not yet rated by Rank a Brand or Ethical Consumer, but they recieved a 48/100 from CSRHub. My perception of their sustainability efforts and informations is that they are not serious about it and are using the little bit they are doing for marketing.
Makes little to no effort to be environmentally or socially responsible, received low ratings from other raters, and is not transparent.
Coleman does not provide any information about their sustainability efforts, likely because they aren’t making an effort. They are owned by Newell Brands which did publish a CSR report in 2014, but it showed very small improvements in energy use and emissions, while waste discharges increased from 2012 to 2014. Ethical Consumer and CSRHub both scored Coleman low.
Five Ten (F)
Granite Gear (F)
Transparency is 0, company has not yet been assessed by other raters.
The only information available for Gregory right now is the few sentences they provide on their website stating what they stand for: “Gregory Mountain Products expects its suppliers to treat their workers fairly, to provide them with a safe and healthy work environment and to protect environmental quality.”
Transparency is very low and they were ranked poorly by multiple rating systems.
Mammut does not offer much information about their sustainability efforts. In fact, the CSR section of their website was down when I was conducting my research. They were assessed by Ethical Consumer and Rank a Brand, both of which scored them quite low.
Minimal transparency, site info indicative of greenwashing, scored low by other rating systems.
At first glance on the Marmot website one might think Marmot is environmentally and socially responsible but this isn’t the case. Marmot has labels for some of their progressive products such as “upcycle” and “envirofree” but this only accounts for a handful of items out of the hundreds they offer and while they make some claims about their social initiatives they don’t provide much information about how they help the organizations they partner with.
Mountain Hardware (D)
Ranked very low by all other ranking systems, transparency is very low, and they are owned by Columbia Sportswear corp.
Mountain Hardware is just above the bottom of the barrel compared to other companies because their two flagship locations are LEED certified buildings and even though they don’t publish the data, they track the impact of their manufacturing using the HIGG Index. Despite this, the latest sustainability related information on their site is from 2014 (and isn’t impressive), they received low rankings from all other ranking systems, and while their parent company Columbia has a CSR report it makes no specific reference to Mountain Hardware.
Provides no information about environmental responsibility and just a hint for social initiatives.
The only information MSR provides about their environmental or social responsibility is the research they are doing around water purification and its application for bringing clean water to citizens in low resource communities. But they don’t offer any tangible data about their Global Health program so it’s difficult to gauge the impact they are having. Ethical Consumer gave their parent company Cascade Designs a 14/20 ranking which is a C, but there are no assessments specifically for MSR.
Transparency is 0, company offers no information about their sustainability.
The North Face (D)
Ranked very low by all other ranking systems,
The North Face deserves some credit for publishing their emissions data and setting goals for improvements (back in 2013) but they did not meet the improvement goals they set for themselves. They state that they are working toward efficiency and are investing in renewable energy but give no data to back that up. Their website says they purchase offsets for their US energy use. But despite a few feathers in their cap (compared to other outdoor companies) all other rating systems gave them very poor reviews. They are owned by the congolomerate VFC which owns companies such as Smartwool, Timberland, Reef, Vans, and JanSport to name a few.
Transparency is 0, ranked low by other ranking systems.
The only sustainability information provided by Osprey is that they use utilize recycled materials and use recycled cardboard for their shipping. This is a poor attempt at greenwashing and lends them no credibility. They are owned by Cascade designs which has a low rating (14/20) from Ethical Consumer.
Far from perfect but far beyond any other outdoor gear brand (except REI).
Patagonia is far from perfect. Their transparency is medium and they don’t publish an official CSR report. But, they do offer a wealth of information about how they are working to improve their environmental and social impact. They receive an A grade because they are by far the leader in sustainability when it comes to outdoor gear. While most other companies are making little to no effort to reduce their impact, Patagonia is investing a considerable amount of their budget on environmental and social responsibility.
Very transparent, not perfect, but far beyond all outdoor gear companies (except Patagonia) and continually improving.
REI is very transparent about their impact and how they are improving it. In their CSR report they publish specific numbers about their energy use, emissions, waste, employees, etc.. They acknowledge areas that need help and provide their action plan to improve it. REI is a coop rather than a traditional corporation like other outdoor brands, and they advocate for the protection of shared outdoor recreational areas. The scope of their impact on the industry is only second to Patagonia which does more to raise awareness of environmental issues and improve manufacturing technology for outdoor gear.
Sea to Summit (F)
Transparency is 0, company offers no information about their sustainability.
Sustainability information on SmartWool is very limited. Their parent company VF Corporation received low ratings from other ranking systems.