Biking is an ever-popular pastime in the Sierra Nevada Mountain region and there are dozens of cycling trails in this picturesque part of California. Cyclists of all skill levels are spoilt for choice, with options like the Meeks Bike Path, Mammoth Rock Trail Loop, and Spooner Lake Loop. There are also numerous organized races in the area, with events like the Mammoth Gran Fondo showcasing the jaw-dropping scenery. But these rides are potentially under threat as climate change worsens and sensitive eco-areas are affected.
With climate change becoming such a major concern, local cyclists are now more aware of their responsibility to do what they can to preserve the delicate environment around them. This awareness has led to a rise in demand for more eco-friendly biking apparel and gear.
Luckily, there are plenty of brands and businesses in the US and beyond working to meet this demand and provide more sustainable cycling gear. From reclaimed and sustainable materials to reusable frame materials and environmentally friendly apparel, here are the best options for savvy cyclists in the Sierra Nevada.
Why Eco-Friendly Gear and Apparel?
Today’s consumers have never been more aware of the impact we’re collectively having on the planet. Cycling gear and apparel brands are also assessing how they design, manufacture, and deliver their products to minimize CO2 emissions and negative impacts.
The global clothing industry contributes massively to worldwide carbon emissions. This is partly due to the vast numbers of garments produced and discarded. Apparel that sheds plastic microfibers during washing is a growing issue too. These fibers enter the water cycle and make their way into the food chain—including the food we eat.
Choosing sustainable apparel brands is one way to ensure that more waste materials get recycled. And that less of these materials pollute our natural environments and water supplies. There’s a growing number of ways to purchase cycling apparel without harming the earth. Plenty of brands have started to use upcycled materials, reduce their plastic packaging, and offer lifetime repairs on their active-wear garments.
Leading Eco-Friendly Cycling Apparel
Modern sustainable cycling apparel uses sustainable and reusable materials and low-carbon manufacturing practices. Plus, it’s designed with comfort and longevity in mind.
There are plenty of certified brands that offer high-quality and eco-friendly biking apparel to keep you safe, cool and comfortable without costing the earth—literally and figuratively.
Howies offers waterproof jackets made without fluorocarbon-based water repellents. These repellents can bio-accumulate in the environment and cause harm to both people and ecosystems.
This active and outerwear brand makes its waterproof cycling jackets from breathable membrane fabrics free of fluorocarbons. This means you can stay dry while preserving native wildlife populations and waterways.
Freitag and Vaude
Swiss brand Freitag reuses truck tarpaulins, discarded bike inner tubes, and vehicle seat belts to create stylish cycling apparel. The brand has created its own in-house material called F-ABRIC to pioneer the eco-friendly apparel movement.
Nearby, German company Vaude uses recycled fishing nets and plastic bottles to create mountain wear and cycling jerseys. They focus on complete supply chain and material usage transparency, assuring cyclists that riding is not just good for them, but for the earth too.
Universal Colors, Adidas and Presca
Universal Colors is another brand offering cycling apparel made from ‘considerately sourced and progressively designed’ materials in a range of exclusive styles and color options.
Global sports brand Adidas has a range of branded and sustainable mountain biking gear to choose from. Presca also uses 100% renewable energy and European manufacturing plants to reduce travel miles and manufacture quality Grand Tour jerseys and other apparel. They also use recycled synthetic fabrics like fishing nets, carpets and plastic bottles in their clothing.
Patagonia and Rapha
Popular sports apparel manufacturer Patagonia joined the sustainability movement by imposing a 1% Earth Tax on its operations. They offer a Worn Wear lifetime repair service on all Patagonia apparel and use a range of recycled materials to create their MTB and gravel gear.
Rapha, a brand that ships to both America and the UK, sells organic cotton and responsible wool vests, jerseys and bib shorts. The company offers free repairs for most of its apparel to extend each item’s life cycle. Plus, the Rapha Foundation invests over $1 million each year to train the next generation of conscious cyclists.
Le Col and Sundried
Another apparel brand to look out for is Le Col, established by Yanto Barker. The brand recently embarked on its recycled clothing journey by launching recycled pro bib shorts and air jerseys made from recycled ocean plastic. The new range boasts the same level of comfort and reduced heat retention as Le Col’s classic range. But the recycled nylon used reduced CO2 emissions by 53% thanks to an innovative patented mechanical process.
Sundried offers an ethical active-wear brand that reduces environmental harm, supports environmental initiatives, and focuses on using recycled and organic materials. The brand’s EcoTech clothing line is made using biodegradable polyamide yarn made from coffee grounds. This reduces food waste and keeps landfills clear while creating durable and robust technical materials.
The EcoTech line is sweat-wicking, odor resistant, and dries up to 200 times faster than classic cotton, making it ideal for longer rides. Sundried has also recently started using a combination of coffee grounds and recycled bottles to maximize positive environmental impact.
Exploring Sustainable Bicycles and Gear
Bicycles and cycling gear are getting an eco-friendly makeover too. Many local and international brands are implementing innovative approaches to design and manufacturing. Local woman-owned brand Georgena Terry offers US-made bicycles fashioned from sustainable steel. These bicycles are designed to the specific preferences of their predominantly female customer base.
Chris King is another American brand using organic and reclaimed materials and environmentally sound practices to create durable cycling gear. The company uses primarily reclaimed aluminum and steel and water-saving methods of production to manufacture its brackets, hubs, and other small bike parts that will extend the lifespan of your bicycle.
Booomers, a Ghanian brand that ships to North America and Europe, is championing the sustainable biking movement with its unique bamboo bikes. Bamboo is lighter than steel, as strong as aluminum, and highly eco-friendly. The brand also employs people in rural Ghana to ensure that they receive living wages and enjoy safe working conditions. A portion of each purchase goes towards funding local upliftment projects. Buyers can purchase bamboo bicycle frames and build the rest themselves, or purchase a fully assembles bike according to their preferences and budget.
Eco-Frinedly Cycling Made Simple
It’s never been easier to find sustainably-produced cycling apparel. Whether you’re riding a commuting bike around the city streets or tackling the trails on a mountain bike, you can do your bit for the environment with every push of your pedals.
Feature image courtesy of Daniel Frank