If you’re into sustainable living, you’re probably into the great outdoors. After all, what’s more sustainable than camping in nature? While there are several things we can do to ensure we’re camping sustainably, what we bring with us also matters. Choosing sustainable camping gear helps protect the natural surroundings you’re visiting — and beyond.
We’ve put together a handy list of sustainable camping gear essentials to ensure that what you pack doesn’t harm the environment.
What is Sustainable Camping Gear?
Sustainable camping gear is essentially gear made in an eco-friendly way. This means your camping gear was most likely produced by a conscious brand using environmentally friendly and socially responsible production methods.
Sustainable camping gear will be virgin synthetic-free whenever possible and made from natural and/or recycled materials. It won’t contain any materials or chemicals that would be harmful to the natural environment.
This can look like tents made from recycled materials or non-toxic and biodegradable dish soap.
Where You Should Look For Sustainable Camping Gear
The most sustainable camping gear is the gear you already own. While it may be tempting to go out and buy all the latest, eco-friendly gadgets, try to resist. If you already own usable camping gear, that’s your most sustainable option.
If you’re missing camping essentials, however, consider renting items before purchasing. Many sporting goods stores, even campgrounds, rent essential items like tents, stoves, sleeping bags, or clothes. Renting is a wonderful sustainable option if you’re not a regular camper and won’t be using these items regularly.
Lastly, you can purchase eco-friendly camping gear from sustainable brands if you’re planning on camping often or you’ll continuously use these items.
To support you on your sustainable camping journey, we’ve put together a list of the top sustainable camping gear items, and where to find them, below.
Note that this guide may contain affiliate links, meaning we’ll earn a small commission should you choose to purchase through one of these links. As always all featured products meet strict standards for sustainability and are from brands we love!
Eco Friendly Tents
The number one item for a successful camping trip is a tent. Unfortunately, tents are typically made from PVC and coated with flame retardants. Choosing a sustainable tent will help limit your impact on the environment.
A great place to find a large selection of eco-friendly tents is Vaude. All of their sustainable tents are made from PVC-free, waterproof fabric and coated with silicone. They use DAC aluminum poles and their ground sheets are made from recycled materials.
Vaude has a range of tent sizes to choose from to fit all your needs from backpacking to group camping. Plus, they are a carbon neutral company.
Eco Friendly Sleeping Bag
Another sustainable camping gear necessity is a sleeping bag. Many traditional sleeping bags are made with synthetic materials or Down feathers that aren’t responsibly sourced. Not to mention, they are most likely not ethically manufactured.
A great company that makes eco friendly sleeping bags is Cotopaxi. They are a certified B Corp, Carbon Neutral, and give back to various social organizations.
Their Noches sleeping bag is made from repurposed fabric and filled with recycled polyester.
Sustainable Camping Chairs
There’s nothing better than sitting in front of the fire, roasting some marshmallows, and relaxing in your camping chair. While camping chairs are usually durable and comfortable, they also tend to be made from synthetic materials (i.e. plastic) and coated in toxic chemicals.
A great sustainable camping chair alternative is the Renewed Bamboo Chair from Snow Peak. Plastic-free, their camping chairs are made from cotton canvas with a bamboo and aluminum frame.
Snow Peaks products are meant to last a lifetime. They have begun implementing sustainability measures such as carbon offsetting and using recycled materials.
It’s worth noting that most camping chairs on the market are not fully sustainable. Many companies have made efforts to design more eco-friendly camping chairs, but they still have a long way to go.
Having light while camping is essential, so choosing a headlamp that will power you through your trip is crucial. Unfortunately, many headlamps don’t take sustainability into account and are made from plastic and/or still require batteries (leading to e-waste).
When choosing a sustainable headlamp, look for plastic-free ones with a rechargeable battery. Origin 2 by Eukarya is a great place to start. Their rechargeable, water-resistant head lamps are made from cherry wood and aluminum.
Coolers are essential for keeping our food fresh and edible throughout our trip. Most coolers however are made from new plastic (sourced from fossil fuels).
One fantastic option is the Hielo 12L Cooler Bag by Cotopaxi. Each one of a kind cooler is made from repurposed leftover fabric. They are handmade and ethically manufactured. Cotopaxi coolers are insulated with repurposed foam, waterproof lining, and an easy to carry side strap.
Eco Friendly Camping Stove
Camping stoves often generate waste with hard to dispose gas canisters. Plus, they use toxic fossil fuels like gas and petroleum. Making the swap to a wood burning camping stove is a great solution to this.
One fantastic option for a sustainable camping stove is the CampStove 2+ from BioLite. This portable wood burning stove uses fire to provide electricity. Each stove includes a USB charger for your gadgets. You can light it with debris from around the camp, like twigs, and cook while charging your phone.
BioLite is passionate about providing solar power to those without, globally. So far they’ve given power to 3.5 million people.
Disposable dishes generate unnecessary waste and most of our packaged food options come in plastic. It may seem tricky to pack and eat your food in a low waste way when camping, but it’s easier than you think.
How? Pack reusable items made from sturdy materials. United by Blue is a one stop shop for finding eco friendly camping dinnerware, cups, and water bottles. They have a variety of bamboo tupperware, silicone sandwich bags, and stainless steel cooking ware and dinner sets. (Remember to use what you already have at home first, though, before buying new dinnerware!)
Biodegradable Dish Soap
A camping essential that often gets overlooked is dish soap. Many of us may think we can bring our daily dish soap camping, but unfortunately, that’s not the case. Traditional dish soap contains chemicals that shouldn’t be dumped in the woods, rivers, or oceans. It’s best to choose a non-toxic, biodegradable soap.
Tangie has a wonderful line of waste free products including their zero waste dish soap bars. Their bars come in compostable packaging and are plastic-free.
Each bar is made from four natural, biodegradable ingredients, so you can use Tangie’s dish soap outside without hurting the environment.
Zero Waste Toiletries
Last but not least for sustainable camping necessities is zero waste toiletries. Just like dish soap, it’s important to prioritize packing non-toxic, biodegradable toiletries when you’re camping.
Avoid bringing single-use toiletries packaged in plastic that you have to toss out and opt for zero waste options instead when possible.
Here are recommendations for the most common toiletries:
- Shampoo and Conditioner Bars by Corvus Botanicals: Palm-oil free, with sustainably sourced ingredients.
- Tewín’xw Cranberry Facial Bar by Skwalwen Botanicals: Indigenous owned, this sustainable cleanser doubles as a make-up remover.
- Alkalizing Mineral Toothpaste by Uncle Harry’s: Family-run, zero waste toothpaste from chemical-free, plant-based ingredients.
- Essential Soap Bars by Yukon Soaps: Indigenous owned, handcrafted soaps made from wild-harvested ingredients.
- Moisturizing Botanical Bar by Nopalera: Handmade, vegan, plant based lotion with no added chemicals.
- Face & Body Tin SPF 30 Sunscreen by Raw Elements: Plastic-free, reef-safe biodegradable sunscreen.
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About The Author:
Alicia Briggs is a writer & editor specializing in slow travel & sustainable living. She’s worked in journalism since 2016 and currently writes for a variety of publications such as Sustainably Chic and Hidden Lemur. She has been a full-time traveler since 2018 and runs her own blog, Learning the Local Way, where she covers responsible travel & living tips.