Whether you’re a lifetime skier or hitting the slopes for the first time, there are planet-friendly options from eco skis to sustainable skiwear so you can leave tracks only, without leaving a trace.
Skiing is more than just a winter Olympic sport or vacation pastime, it’s a bona fide way to connect with nature. Those hours outdoors surrounded by snow-covered trees and mountains are exhilarating and can make you come off the slope feeling refreshed and renewed and more committed to protecting the planet than ever.
Your ski gear and skiwear can play a big part in that commitment. Leading ski industry companies have been greening up their skis, boots, and more with novel materials and technology to help skiers enhance their performance on the slopes while doing better for the planet.
Sustainable ski brands
An investment that’s designed to last years, skis are now fast becoming some of the most sustainable sports equipment categories around. From sustainable bamboo to microalgae cores, the innovations are inspiring.
French ski brand Salomon has been making skis for more than 70 years. And with a great legacy comes great responsibility and great commitment.
Salomon has replaced fiberglass and resin in its skis with bamboo for a ski that is now recyclable. It joined the Bluesign system in 2013 which means it has removed perfluorinated chemicals beyond legal requirements.
The company’s Environmental Management Policy helps Salomon to expand internal recycling, reduce energy and water consumption, increase the percentage of organic food in the canteen, and take other steps toward greater sustainability.
By 2025, the brand will make its environmental performance visible on all products as part of its circular economy principles, which guide development and initiatives including its participation in the Sustainable Apparel Coalition since 2016. It will reduce CO2 emissions by 30 percent by 2030, and it’s also working toward 70 percent of all waste recycled or reused across its operations. Its headquarters have been certified for energy and water efficiency, and the brand is a signatory of the U.N. Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action.
Salomon’s commitments include 100 percent of suppliers meeting or exceeding its social compliance standards with all material suppliers adhering to the Materials Compliance Programs and Restricted Substances Lists.
In 2009, Salomon became a founding member of France’s Outdoor Sports Valley, which promotes environmental initiatives including aftercare for apparel and gear.
It’s also a champion of social justice causes with a Gender Equality Index of 78/100. The Salomon Foundation, established in 1999, supports athletes and mountain professionals living with disabilities as well as supporting the families of deceased athletes.
2. Grown Skis
Germany’s Grown Skis, founded in 2007, started out as an eco-label. It is now a non-profit fully committed to sustainable skis as well as other outdoor gear.
When it comes to skis, Grown uses sustainably harvested wood cores, non-toxic eco glues, recycled materials including hemp fiber and volcanic rock fibers. It incorporates circular and sustainable elements into every aspect of design.
In 2013 Grown Skis was the first company to publish a peer-reviewed life cycle analysis of skis, drawing attention to areas with the greatest opportunity for improvement. It highlighted an achievement of a minimum 32 percent reduction in CO2 emissions related to materials based on comparable skis.
Grown donates ten percent of all ski sales to the World Wildlife Fund Arctic Program.
3. Mervin Manufacturing
Washington-based Mervin Manufacturing has been building sports gear since the 1970s. It makes sustainable skis and snowboards, as well as skateboards, and surfboards.
Mervin’s sustainable skis are sold under the Lib Tech brand and are made with sustainable materials including FSC-certified wood cores, basalt, and other natural materials as well as organic and non-toxic glues and resins. It sends sawdust to a local composter to turn it into soil.
To achieve its eco-friendly skis and snowboards, Mervin uses a low-impact dyeing process and foregoes toxic lacquers and epoxy resins.
Mervin’s factory uses renewable biodiesel and power comes from wind and hydro sources. Over at its corporate offices, there’s a living roof that allows for rainwater collection that’s used in heating and cooling, toilets, and for watering office plants.
4. WNDR Alpine
Salt Lake City’s WNDR Alpine is at the forefront of ski technology by using microalgae instead of petroleum throughout the designs, including the core.
A more sustainable material, algae also makes for better skis, according to the company. WNDR Alpine says the use of algae makes the skis more durable and reduces “chatter” at high speeds.
WNDR Alpine is a certified B Corp, a distinction it says holds the company to the highest standards across social, environmental, and corporate governance. It aims to improve its environmental footprint year on year, including the percentage of bio-based materials in its skis.
As a company that says it’s “built for the backcountry”, WNDR Alpine supports a number of local organizations in Utah that support the safety of backcountry skiers and the land where they ski.
WNDR’s facilities are all powered exclusively by renewable energy, including renewable natural gas that’s sourced from waste methane outputs from farms, organic matter, and landfills. WNDR says that’s better than being carbon-zero and is actually “carbon beneficial.”
5. Liberty Skis
Avon, Colorado’s Liberty Skis has been making ski gear for nearly two decades. Its award-winning skis are made with the company’s exclusive VMT cores that include bamboo, carbon, and vertical metal that’s lighter than traditional metal skis.
A commitment to sustainable materials and design, the company also offers one of the longest warranties in the industry—three years.
For more than a decade, Liberty has been the market leader for bamboo ski innovation, a title it doesn’t take lightly. It’s constantly working to refine and improve on its hand-crafted products.
Sustainable ski wear
Like ski gear, ski wear is getting more sustainable, too. From recycled shell materials to high-tech down alternatives, there are more eco options than ever before.
And if you don’t ski enough to warrant purchasing all new gear, check out the EcoSki rental platform that makes renting gear the more affordable choice. It’s also a great option if you’re looking to test out products before you buy them.
When you are ready to buy, the sustainable options are plentiful. Give these a try.
1. Picture Organic
Made in France, the award-winning outerwear brand Picture has been committed to sustainability from its start in 2008. A responsible ethos has driven the brand to materials innovations including organic and bio-based alternatives to down feathers, to leading the way in recycling deadstock and plastic for its jackets, pants, suits, and bibs.
In 2012, Picture partnered with AIR (Agence Innovation Responsable), a move it says allow it to better manage its sustainability efforts.
Its Hubber helmet was the first-ever ski/snowboard helmet made from 100 percent recycled and organically sourced components. The shells are a renewable corn-based polylactide, and the lining is polystyrene made from recycled car dashboards. Chin pads and ear pads are made from recycled polyester.
2. Prada x ASPENX
Last December, Prada and ASPENX partnered on a sustainable limited-edition line of ski gear using Prada’s favorite eco-material, Re-Nylon.
Red stripes popular in the late 1990s make a statement across the Extreme-Tex products. Some items contain down feathers—a fill a growing number of environmentalists and sustainable fashion labels say isn’t eco-friendly. But much of the line is feather-free.
ASPENX says the high-performance line blends its technical excellence with Prada’s world-class craftsmanship for a “statement-making ensemble built for ultimate movement and mobility.”
Prada is a leader in the sustainable fashion movement, even inking loans recently linked to its sustainability commitments and efforts. Read more about Prada’s efforts here.
3. Oros Apparel
Made with technology it says is 99.8 percent air—a NASA-loved technique that provides warmth without bulk. All of Oros’ jackets are PFC-free, feather-free, and made with recycled polyester.
Since the company was founded in 2014, it’s been on a mission to redefine outwear and insulation. Last summer, it raised more than $14 million in a Series A funding round to achieve its goal.
The company says its mission is to offer meticulously crafted gear that delivers the most elevated, versatile, and performance-driven insulated tech wear in the world. “Minimal, stylish, and hard-working layers enable distraction-free exploration, and a deeper connection with people, places, and experiences.”
The leader in performance-driven sustainable outerwear, Patagonia does everything with the planet in mind. The certified B Corp company’s north star is being a steward of the planet and working to combat climate change. It’s been a leader in supporting non-profit conservation efforts, but the company’s biggest tool for change is its gear itself—designed to get you outdoors while keeping you warm.
Much of Patagonia’s materials are recycled polyester, but it also claims to use recycled or ethical down feathers as well as some wool despite investigations showing animal cruelty at one of its suppliers.
But with such a strong environmental commitment and a range of ethical products, Patagonia is hard to beat on price and comfort.
5. P.E. Nation
Female-founded and mission-driven, Australia’s P.E. Nation is committed to ethical and sustainable gear from sports bras to ski jackets, using recycled nylon, and organic materials including hemp, cotton, and linen. Quick-drying recycled materials feature in its ski wear, which is as gorgeous as it is functional.
The brand supports various charities, giving consumers choices at the point of purchase as to where they want their donation to go; each purchase includes a $1 donation.
P.E. Nation has also switched to biodegradable packaging and renovated its headquarters to be more sustainable.
Sustainable Ski Boots
When it comes to eco options for ski boots, the resale market is your best bet over new models. But there are some options out there using innovative materials and technology.
Scarpa’s vegan T2 Eco is a traditional boot with modern features for responsive performance on the up and the down. It’s made with plant-based materials, including the Pebax Rnew shell. It’s made with bio-based renewable materials to create a tough outer shell.
Italian ski boot manufacturer Dalbello says it’s committed to locally sourced materials. It says it uses residual and surplus materials in at least 20 percent of new boot construction, including the plastic shell and cuff materials, all of which it says can generally be reused. The boot manufacturer partnered with the University of Bologna in 2011 to research materials and performance in a bit to make its manufacturing process cleaner and lower in emissions.
Dalbello has been making ski boots since the mid-1970s when it started out as a small family operation. It has grown considerably since then but that has only emphasized the need to be more responsible, the company says, as it now makes 2,000 pairs of ski boots a day.
“With production of this magnitude, we are keenly aware of our responsibilities with regard to the conservation of resources and sustainability. We continually develop new methods and processes to make the company even more eco-friendly and to promote and improve sustainability.”