When it comes to outdoor clothing and equipment, “Made in EU” often stands for advantages such as strict quality standards and shorter delivery routes. Our guide provides an overview of ten brands that manufacture in Europe, and their advantages in terms of sustainability.

“Where does my equipment come from and what were the manufacturing conditions?” These are some elementary questions one needs to ask to begin making environmentally conscious gear decisions. Sometimes it’s not straightforward to research the most sustainable product or brand, but finding out where the manufacturing is located can sometimes provide a quick shorthand to identifying the most and least sustainable products.

Relative to other regions, European manufacturing offers a number of advantages both for the industry and for the environmentally conscious consumer. Products manufactured here often have to meet higher standards in terms of quality and labor conditions. Stricter labor laws, for example, ensure that workers are employed under fair conditions and paid appropriately. For manufacturers, the proximity of production facilities to markets also means greater flexibility and responsiveness. Brands, meanwhile, can react faster to fluctuations in demand and thus avoid overproduction, while at the same time shorten lead times and bring new products to market more quickly. The recent disruptions in the global logistics, where more products have been transported by air freight (with high CO2 emissions) from Asia to Europe, also shows the climate benefits of “nearshoring.”

The following guide provides an introduction and overview of ten outdoor brands that produce in the EU.

 

Credit: Ask the Fox

Ask the Fox

It’s not just big brands that can afford sustainability, small brands often produce locally and reap the sustainability benefits. Like the German brand Ask the Fox, which combines cozy blankets and fire protection in one product. The Hamburg-based start-up produces fireproof blankets, which are also antibacterial, antifungal and skin-friendly in accordance with the Oeko-tex 100 standard. The fireproof pyro-fiber on which the blankets are based is manufactured in Spain, and the blankets are produced in Germany.

Asolo

The family-run company Asolo develops and manufactures shoes and boots for mountain sports. 80 per cent of the Italian footwear brand’s products come from its factory in Romania, which opened in 2020, while the rest are manufactured in Italy not far from Asolo, Italy – the place where the brand was founded and from which it takes its name. Both production facilities are owned by Asolo and are managed and monitored by the brand itself.

AustriAlpin

The Austrian brand AustriAlpin is a specialist team of enthusiastic mountaineers, climbers and paragliders specializing in mountain sports, aviation sports and work safety hardware. The brand is aware of its social responsibility in the region: The company wants to strengthen the Tyrolean economy and secure jobs there. The manufacturing operations have a tradition of metalworking going back generations and use modern production methods. The company sources its materials from Austria, Poland, and Switzerland.

Chemical finishings are also carried out exclusively in Austria, where strict regulations apply. Higher costs in production are gladly accepted for the good of the environment and local community. AustriAlpin also invests in modern energy generation to save costs in production and to counteract the construction of further power stations.

Boreal

The outdoor brand Boreal is one of the shoe brands that produces entirely in Europe. The Spanish company manufactures climbing, trail running, hiking, and trekking shoes as well as mountaineering boots in its factories in Alicante. Although many process steps have been modernized and mechanized, shoe manufacturing is still a craft that is at home in the region and many work steps are carried out by hand.

Devold

Devold of Norway has been an expert in outdoor wool clothing for over 170 years. What began as a knitting mill in the fjords outside Ålesund – with a boat as its first sales vehicle – has now grown into an international high quality brand that places great value on sustainability and proximity to the market. While production no longer takes place in Norway, the company has remained loyal to production in Europe. Devold has its own factory in Lithuania, where underwear, midlayers, outerwear, classic Norwegian jumpers, socks and other woollen accessories are manufactured.

Doghammer

In addition to trekking and hiking shoes, the Bavarian brand Doghammer also manufactures fairly produced and durable leisure shoes. Natural materials such as wool and cork are used, as well as synthetic leather in the production of its vegan and urban models. Doghammer is based in Rosenheim, Germany, where some of the sandals are also produced in a facility for people with disabilities. The majority of shoe production takes place in a family-run facility in Portugal, where short delivery routes for natural cork and traditional local craftsmanship also provide a location-specific advantage.

Credit: Hanwag

Hanwag

Hanwag produces 100 per cent of its shoes in Europe, using materials that are also sourced in Europe. In addition to its headquarters in Bavaria, the company manufactures at its production sites in Hungary, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina – in co-operation with long-standing staff and partners. From the shoemaker’s point of view, the most important factors behind this include better planning and above all quality, reliability, and sustainability. Evidently, this is also viewed positively by the company’s hiking boot and shoe customers.

Löffler

The manufacturer of functional clothing from Ried im Innkreis in Austria focuses entirely on local action to counteract global environmental pollution. Löffler has been pursuing climate action and producing exclusively in Austria and Europe since 2020. Every processed thread and every material is strictly tested by independent bodies and meet high legal standards. The heart of Löffler is its own knitting factory, an impressive array of circular knitting and seamless machines with thousands of needles, where around two thirds of the fabrics that the brand uses are produced.

Credit: Ortlieb

Ortlieb

Travelling, cycling and being outdoors in all weathers – this is where many outdoor adventures begin, as well as the history of the German brand Ortlieb. The founder of the brand wanted to travel with the best equipment to keep his things dry. Thanks to high-frequency welding technology, Ortlieb products are also leak-proof at the seams. Made in Germany, its products range from laptop backpacks for commuters to handlebar bags for bikepacking.

 

Credit: Primus

Primus

Equipment that works even under the most adverse conditions and that you can rely on for a lifetime – that is the claim of the Swedish brand Primus. It all began in a laboratory in Stockholm, where the brand developed the first portable stove (hence the name Primus). Today, Primus produces outdoor and trekking stoves as well as gas lamps. In 1994, production was relocated to Estonia, a neighboring country on the Baltic Sea. Primus claims that the brand’s stoves will last a lifetime or even longer, which also contributes to the sustainability of the products. This is why Primus products are tested several times before they reach the customer.

 

Lead image: Devold of Norway

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Martina Wengenmeir
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