2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on

Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – September 2007

How to Lighten Your (Planetary) Load

We found 17 pioneering products that will cut your carbon cost without sacrificing performance.

by: Kristin Hostetter

PAGE 1 2 3 4 5

[Insulation] Patagonia Micro Puff Hooded Jacket
Instant gratification–that's what you get with this fat cocoon. It's filled with Climashield Green, a continuous-filament insulation with 40 percent recycled content, and covered with a 90 percent recycled polyester shell. On blustery snowshoe treks this winter, testers raved about the roomy cut, well-sculpted and adjustable hood, and effective DWR treatment, which repelled light sleet and snow so that the insulation stayed dry. $215; men's XS–XXL, women's XS–L. 1 lb. 2 oz. (women's M) (800) 638-6464;

2 green packs spark a challenge to other manufacturers.

Our search for trailworthy packs with strong eco-credentials yielded only two real contenders: Lafuma's Eco 40 and Osprey's Circuit. So we decided to launch a contest–BACKPACKER's Zero Impact Challenge–to encourage more activity. The call went out to packmakers this spring: Design a midsize pack whose materials and manufacturing come as close to carbon-neutral as possible. Make it durable, user-friendly, and (ideally) recyclable, then send us a finished sample for testing. As this issue goes to press, at least seven manufacturers are toiling away with designs and production techniques that we hope will spur a greener type of pack fabrication. Here are two cutting-edge entries already in stores. Watch for the results of our contest this winter.

Lafuma Eco 40
When we first heard about this hemp pack, we pictured a woven, scratchy satchel from a '70s Dead concert. But the only groovy note here is how high Lafuma raises the bar in enviro pack design. While the 2,440-cubic-inch Eco 40 isn't quite as tricked-out and comfortable as other packs in its size and price range, it's 65 percent hemp and 35 percent recycled polyester with a waterproof coating of thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), which is less toxic to produce than typical polyurethanes. The streamlined packbag requires minimal fabric and assembly, and the only extra is an integrated raincover that tucks into a hidden pocket. The Eco's padded shoulder straps are best for broad chests (they rubbed into the neck and shoulders of our female tester), and the thin hipbelt provides adequate wrap and support for an overnight load. Whereas most suspensions adjust via plastic Fastex buckles, this one uses metal D-rings, which Lafuma claims are greener to produce. One tester humped 25-plus pounds on multiple hikes in New Hampshire's White Mountains, and reports: "The simple design carries just fine and proves that extra design touches are often frills, not necessities." His main beef: The shoulder straps, which tighten via those metal D-rings, constantly slipped, causing the straps to loosen and the pack to sag. $100; one size (16–20" torso); 3 lbs. 2 oz. (303) 527-1460;

Osprey Circuit  Digging deep into the fabric world, Osprey succeeded in building this 70-percent-recycled, 1,900-cubic-inch daypack–without sacrificing one iota of performance. The Circuit (also pictured on the cover) uses a variety of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) fabrics, which are made from ground-up plastic bottles. The 450-denier body, stretchy shove-it pocket, interior mesh pockets, webbing, and binding tape are all made of PET, and the plastic buckles aand zipper pulls are also recycled. Our testers wore this pack on many extended dayhikes–carrying up to 15 pounds–and found it comfortable and easy to access. The back is well padded against sharp objects like cameras, and the shoulder straps worked well on a variety of body types. We liked the zippered side water-bottle pockets, which shut flat when empty. The long main zipper gives you panellike access to the inside, and there's a padded laptop sleeve that doubles as protection and insulation for a hydration bladder. $99; 2 lbs. 2 oz. (970) 564-5900;

[Bag] Big Agnes Skinny Fish 20
This three-season, semirectangular bag is filled with recycled Climashield Green, and the shell, lining, stuff sack, and storage bag are also recycled polyester. In testing, we felt no performance differences between the Skinny Fish and similarly featured Big Agnes bags. Our broad-chested tester had plenty of roll-around room during an unseasonably warm weekend in Maine, and was able to vent his feet using the smooth-running two-way zipper. The Fish is on the heavy side, but with a compression sack we were able to squash it down to a respectable loaf size. Slip the Pacific Outdoor Eco Thermo into the pad sleeve, and stuff the Patagonia Micro Puff into the pillow pocket, and win on two counts: supreme comfort and the most ecologically-inclined backcountry bed short of a pile of duff. $179 ($189 for long); 3 lbs. 6 oz. (877) 554-8975;

PAGE 1 2 3 4 5

Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Address 1:
Address 2:
Email (req):
Reader Rating: -


ernest rando
May 28, 2009

True, however I am one who is in the purchasing phase and while i did not find this particular article helpful in my purchasing i did find it a little informative so that my next purchasing decision will be hopefully a bit wiser. However i have been finding it difficult in my area Central Indiana to find 2nd hand products or vendors with employees that think of green as anything but another colour. Your comment above has encouraged me to look more on the Reuse side of things since 100+ pants are out of the question. Thats like 20 pair of pants at Goodwill and No extreme sporting here in Indiana so Goodwill gear will work fine for now.

Jul 09, 2008

This isn't a guide for people who already own gear that works well, it is for people who need to get gear in the first place.

Eric Nelson
Apr 23, 2008

Is buying MORE reducing your footprint? How about just be happy with what you have and get along with that 10 year old Terraplane. Yeah you can get one more sleeping bag with Climashield, but that means spending more energy. Reducing CO2 means just that. The phrase is Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. There's a reason for the order of the 3 R's.


Your rating:
Your Name:


My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

Trailhead Register
Hurray for Curry! Ingredient helps to block colon
Posted On: Aug 28, 2014
Submitted By: JimInMD
Hiking on rocks
Posted On: Aug 28, 2014
Submitted By: Walkinman

View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions