Outdoor gear brands that give back

As a gear reviewer and travel writer, I am familiar with many travel brands and outdoor gear companies. As we head into this year’s ‘giving season’, I’d like to highlight just a few that donate significantly to a charitable cause or program…not just during the holidays but all year long!

Outdoor gear brands that give back:

Icefields parkway hiking


Lifestraw makes filtered straws that make contaminated water safe to drink. You can buy them solo, or as part of a full water bottle in the Lifestraw GO. They’re great for travel to countries where the water is not potable, or for backcountry hiking and camping trips.

How Lifestraw gives back: For every LifeStraw sold, one school child in a developing community also receives safe drinking water for an entire school year. More information of the Follow the Liters program can be found here.


Utah-based Cotopaxi makes one of our favorite backpacking packs, the Taboche. I love the bright colors and flare they bring to all their backpacks, totes, and outdoor clothing. This season, their new day pack, the Luzen, is perfect for every type of traveler…and perfect for under the tree.

How Cotopaxi gives back: Cotopaxi and the Utah Refugee Services Office have come together to launch a skills-based volunteer program in Utah called the Refugee Coding Project. Started in partnership with the Bhutanese refugee community, the coding program has been so successful, community leaders and youth from five other key refugee communities in Salt Lake City requested the program and Cotopaxi met that demand.


The men’s line of Aventura Clothing, Ecoths makes organic cotton and lifestyle pieces ideal for men who are active and busy…both at home and while traveling. The Pit Stops men in my life love the Xavier Shirt for warm-weather travel destinations, and they now also offer travel-ready pants and hoodies.

How Ecoths gives back: When you purchase clothing from Ecōths, you feed the hungry.  As part of their Good Sam program, Ecōths feeds one person for one day with each garment sold. In just over two years, they have donated over 200,000 meals across the US.


You may have heard or seen the name DownTek in regard to your outdoor gear: this sustainable, water-repellant down company is the supplier of choice for big names in the gear industry, including L.L. Bean, Big Agnes, and more. One of my favorite travel products with DownTek is the Big Agnes Shovelhead Hooded jacket, which is extremely lightweight but warm enough for deep winter adventures.

How DownTek gives back: Sustainable Down Source, creator of DownTek, participates in three programs that give back to children including, Ronald McDonald House Quilts for Kids, Parks4Kids and K.I.D.S. / Fashion Delivers. Down pillows created by SDS have been provided to K.I.D.S. / Fashion Delivers, and SDS has also donated to outdoors programs through Parks4Kids, encouraging exploration, appreciation and understanding of natural environments and resources.

Mountain Khakis:

Mountain Khakis is one of our favorite travel wear brands for outdoorsy men and women. Their khakis are their signature pant, but we find we love their sweaters and pullovers most. This year, MK is debuting a new line of luggage, which will compliment their canvas totes and bags.

How MK gives back: Each year, Mountain Khakis offers a limited-edition design which supports the mission of Protect Our Winters (POW), the leading climate advocacy group for the winter sports community founded by professional athlete/artist/environmentalist, Jeremy Jones. This year’s offering is the Men’s POW XVI Sweater.

Parks Project:

Parks Project is an outdoor lifestyle brand that funds various national park projects through their apparel and accessories. Parks Project is an official partner to the National Park Service, serves as a supporting business partner to the National Parks Foundation and is carried in over 100 retailers around the nation. We especially love their tees that serve as reminders of our trips to favorite national parks.

How Parks Project gives back: As a for-profit business, Parks Project supports 22 individual park groups around the nation. Every product sold carries a story and contributes to habitat restoration, animal conservation, educational initiatives and visitor services across America’s parks, promoting Parks Project’s ethos, Leave It Better Than You Found It.


About the author

Amy Whitley AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly as a family travel expert at Go Green Travel Green and Practical Travel Gear, and contributes to Outdoors NW as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.



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