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The Best Sustainable Trail-Running Gear for Every Season

Environmentally friendly picks to lighten your footprint when you take to the trails.

Jessica Bernhard

December 15th, 2023

9 min read


The most sustainable trail-running kit is the one you already own. There—we said it. Clothing brands doubled production between 2000 and 2014 and consumers now keep items for about half as long as they did 15 years ago, according to a 2016 McKinsey & Company study.  All this leads to a lot more waste. Outdoor gear has a sizable impact, too, from the use of plastics that can take 100-plus years to break down to the complex network of suppliers brands rely on to create technical equipment.

What to do? Consider waiting 24 hours before buying something new to figure out if you need it, write Tina Muir and Zoë Rom in their book Becoming a Sustainable Runner. When it’s time to replace your favorite singlet or well-loved trail shoes, seek out brands that are actively working to reduce their carbon footprint, use thoughtfully sourced materials, and treat workers with respect. 

We’ve got a head start on that front. Read on to find the best sustainable trail-running gear currently available from Running Warehouse.

Disclaimer: The product links included on this page are affiliate links, meaning may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. This comes at no extra cost to you and helps support our team in bringing you awesome trail running content and events.

The Best Sustainable Trail-Running Gear and Apparel

A Technical Outer Layer That Breathes Well and Blocks Rain

Patagonia Houdini Jacket

Most technical outer layers get clammy the moment you start to sweat, posing a problem for runners wanting to train on drizzly or stormy days. And many water-resistant coatings contain so-called forever chemicals like perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) that can take years to leave the environment and your body. Enter the Patagonia Houdini Jacket, a lightweight, packable jacket for high-output activities with a PFC-free durable water-repellent (DWR) coating. It features a 100% recycled nylon ripstop fabric and it’s made in a Fair Trade Certified™ factory where employees are paid fairly for their labor. $109–$179

An Insulating Mid Layer That Stands Up to Washing and Wear

Arc’teryx Rho Zip Neck (Women’s; Men’s)

Even the most basic outdoor apparel goes through a complex manufacturing process. That’s why an increasing number of brands now partner with bluesign® technologies to monitor how their gear and apparel gets made, and to help keep harmful chemicals out of the environment. The cozy, wicking Arc’teryx Rho is a mid-layer fleece designed to move with you on chilly days. It features bluesign®-approved materials and, as with all Arc’teryx gear, it’s super durable. If your Rho malfunctions before the end of its anticipated lifespan, the brand will repair or replace it. That’s a win for you and the environment. $130

A Cap for Efficient Heating and Cooling

Patagonia Duckbill Cap (Summer; Winter)
Every serious runner should own a hat that wicks sweat and makes braving the elements a teensy bit easier. Enter the sustainably made Patagonia Duckbill Cap, a flexible, all-gender hat made from partially recycled materials that aids temperature regulation so you can push the pace harder, for longer. Both mesh and insulated versions feature details made entirely from recycled fishing nets and both are produced in a Fair Trade Certified™ factory. $35–$49

Socks That Don’t Quit

Smartwool Run Cold Weather Targeted Cushion Crew Socks

Sometimes living sustainably is as simple as investing in things that last. Enter the Smartwool Targeted Cushion Crew Socks, which feature the brand’s signature Indestructiwool™ technology to help them stand up to years of washing and wear. Targeted cushioning keeps the dogs from barking without adding bulk, plus the socks feature a merino wool / recycled nylon / nylon / elastane construction. They’re also available in a lighter version for summer workouts. $23

A Sports Bra to Offer Essential Support

Saucony Fortify Bra

Even minimalist runners don’t skimp on the essentials, including a hardworking sports bra like the Saucony Fortify. It offers medium support with a soft, elastic bottom band and a crossback shape to see you through long, slow burners, hill repeats, and everything in between. The icing on the cake? It’s made from 80% recycled nylon, meaning fewer raw materials were used to produce it, with fewer materials ending up in a landfill. $45

A Streamlined Singlet That Performs on Race Day

Pressio Men’s Core Elite Singlet

It’s never easy to run up a mountain, but it might be a bit more enjoyable in the Core Elite Singlet from Pressio, which combines a lightweight, wicking construction with abrasion-resistant seams and a perforated back panel that vents heat like a champ. Recycled fibers, including 100% recycled polyester yarns, and environmentally friendly anti-stink properties round out the features on high-performing top. $55

A Lightweight Yet Warm Tight for Winter Runs

Saysky Core Pace+ Warm Tight (Women’s; Men’s)

A pair of running tights can be the difference between you climbing out of bed or hitting snooze on subzero mornings. The warm Saysky Core Pace+ Warm Tights check all the boxes with a high, wide, smooth waistband and plenty of pockets, including a zippered back pocket and two thigh pockets that fit most phones. The lightweight yet insulating fabric features 80% recycled polyester that meets the Global Recycled Standard. $132

Shoes with a Circular Mindset

Quick: Grab the closest pair of running shoes and point to the throat, heel counter, eyelet and eyestay. There are myriad parts that go into making a shoe, which is why it’s tough to produce them in an environmentally friendly way. That doesn’t mean brands aren’t trying. Consider the Allbirds SWT, a trail shoe that uses bio-based materials for its plush sugarcane midsole and Forest Stewardship Council-certified rubber for its grippy lugs.

On the road-running front, Salomon offers the casual Index 02 and On now features the subscription-based Cyclon, both of which use recycled and/or bio-based materials and are designed to be recycled once they reach the end of their lifespan, meaning few running shoes end up in a landfill and fewer precious resources are used to produce the shoes in the first place.  This is the concept of circularity: The idea that it’s friendlier for the Earth if we can manufacture gear that can be recycled and made into something new—instead of discarded—when we’re done with it.

Daily Drivers for Road Runs and Cross-Training

Brooks Ghost 15 Road-Running Shoes (Women’s; Men’s)

When it comes to pounding the pavement in between trail efforts, roadies swear by the Brooks Ghost 15, a neutral, lightly cushioned shoe that eats up vibrations and doubles as a gym trainer. The best part: 24% of the shoe’s weight is made up of recycled materials and, thanks to efforts to reduce environmental impact during manufacturing and offset impacts with carbon credits, it’s a carbon neutral product—part of Brooks’ goal to become fully carbon neutral by 2040. $139.95

A Reusable Cup for More Sustainable Racing

HydraPak SpeedCup 2-Pack

Country Time lemonade tastes that much sweeter when you roll up to the aid station with a reusable cup in hand. The HydraPak SpeedCup 2-Pack is a no-nonsense collapsible option that holds up to 7 ounces of your favorite bevvy and stands on its own when empty or full. A loop ring provides endless storage options and—the best part—it’s dishwasher-safe. $11

A Barely There Vest for Carrying Sustainable Trail Essentials

Salomon ADV Skin 5

BYO is almost always a more sustainable option, especially when it means avoiding gas station runs for bottled water and packaged snacks. The popular Salomon ADV Skin 5 hydration running vest comes with two 500-milliliter soft flasks and offers 5 roomy liters of storage to hold layers, nutrition (stuffed in a Stasher bag or wrapped in Bee’s Wrap, of course), a hydration reservoir (sold separately), and other trail essentials. Those who need more space for bigger efforts should look to the ADV 12. $140 

Want more info about how to shop for sustainable trail-running gear? Find even more tips and info here:

Disclaimer: The product links included on this page are affiliate links, meaning may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. This comes at no extra cost to you and helps support our team in bringing you awesome trail running content and events.

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