Many hikers are nature lovers who want to minimize their environmental impact to preserve the places they love exploring, like the rich landscapes of Hells Canyon. Though traditional hiking gear can sometimes harm the environment due to the materials used in its production and the waste it generates, there are eco-friendly alternatives. Whether you’re getting ready to be dropped off by River Adventures for a hiking trip in Hells Canyon or exploring somewhere else, keep reading to learn about seven eco-friendly alternatives for common hiking supplies that enable adventurers to enjoy the great outdoors while respecting and preserving it.

Backpacks from Sustainable Materials

Backpacks are a fundamental item for any hiking trip. Unfortunately, many conventional backpacks are made from synthetic materials such as nylon and polyester, which are derived from petroleum and contribute to pollution.

Luckily, many eco-friendly alternatives are available. Backpacks constructed from sustainable materials like recycled polyester, organic cotton, or hemp are not just eco-conscious but also high-quality and functional. For instance, recycled polyester reduces waste by repurposing plastic bottles into durable fabric. Even well-known backpacking companies like Patagonia and Osprey have introduced lines of sustainable backpacks, ensuring that hikers can make an eco-friendly choice without compromising on performance.

When looking for your next backpack, choose one with minimal packaging that is built to last. The longer a backpack lasts, the fewer resources will be required to make replacements, reducing your overall environmental footprint.

Hiking Clothing

Like backpacks, traditional hiking apparel often contains synthetic fibers and chemicals that can harm the environment. However, there are many alternatives. Clothing items made from natural fibers, such as organic cotton, bamboo, or merino wool, are often biodegradable and produced with fewer chemicals. Merino wool is an excellent choice due to its moisture-wicking and odor-resistant properties, making it perfect for long hikes. Similarly, bamboo fabric is not only soft and breathable but also naturally anti-bacterial, providing an added layer of comfort and hygiene during your outdoor adventures.

Many clothing items, even those made from sustainable materials, are produced using unethical and unsustainable manufacturing methods. While you shop, look for certifications like Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) or OEKO-TEX Standard 100 to ensure the clothing you purchase meets high environmental and social criteria.


Hiking boots and shoes are crucial for comfort and safety on the trail. Many conventional hiking boots are made from leather and synthetic materials that have significant environmental impacts. Eco-friendly alternatives use sustainable materials like recycled rubber, organic cotton, and even vegan leather.

Proper care and maintenance of footwear can also extend its lifespan, reducing the need for replacements. Even if your current hiking boots aren’t made from sustainable materials, extending their lifespan will help keep them out of landfill and prevent you from needing to purchase new boots. To keep your boots in good condition, regularly clean them, reapply waterproofing treatments, and store them in a dry, well-ventilated space.

Water Bottles

Staying hydrated on a hike is essential, but single-use plastic water bottles are a major source of pollution. Eco-friendly alternatives include reusable water bottles made from stainless steel, glass, or BPA-free plastic. Stainless steel bottles are durable, non-toxic, and can keep beverages cold or hot for hours. Glass bottles are another great option and often come with protective silicone sleeves to prevent breakage. Invest in a high-quality reusable water bottle and consider a portable water filter to refill from natural water sources. Not only will this help the environment, but you will save money as a reusable water bottle is a one-time purchase that can be refilled time and time again at no expense to you.

Food Storage

Carrying snacks and meals is necessary on long hikes, but plastic bags and single-use packaging generate significant waste. Consider making your own hiking snacks at home and packaging them in eco-friendly storage solutions instead of purchasing snacks wrapped in single-use plastic. Eco-friendly food storage solutions include reusable silicone bags, beeswax wraps, and stainless steel containers.

Silicone bags are versatile and durable and can be used for both food storage and cooking. Beeswax wraps are a sustainable alternative to plastic wrap or aluminum foil that can be reused to wrap sandwiches and snacks. Stainless steel containers are durable, easy to clean, and come in various sizes to accommodate different types of food. As an added benefit, metal containers will keep your food warm or cool for longer periods of time, allowing you to bring and enjoy a picnic on your next hike. Using reusable food storage solutions can significantly reduce the waste you generate on your hikes.

Cooking Gear

Traditional camping stoves and cookware often use materials that are not environmentally friendly. Look for stoves and cookware made from sustainable materials like titanium or recycled aluminum. Titanium cookware is particularly popular for its strength, corrosion resistance, and lightweight properties.

Consider using biodegradable soap for cleaning your cooking gear. Though it may be tempting to bring whatever soap you have at home, some dish soaps contain harsh chemicals that can negatively impact plants and wildlife.


Maintaining personal hygiene on the trail is important, but conventional toiletries can be harmful to the environment. To minimize your impact, opt for biodegradable soaps, shampoos, and toothpaste that are safe for natural water sources. Additionally, solid toiletries, such as shampoo bars and toothpaste tablets, eliminate the need for plastic packaging and are easy to pack. As you hike, remember to pack out all waste, including used toilet paper and hygiene products. Use a portable trowel to bury human waste at least 200 feet away from water sources, trails, and campsites.

Embracing eco-friendly alternatives for common hiking supplies allows you to enjoy the great outdoors while minimizing your environmental impact. By investing in eco-friendly gear, you can reduce waste, conserve resources, and promote a more sustainable approach to outdoor adventures. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just starting out, consider these seven eco-friendly alternatives for common hiking supplies to enhance your hiking experience and protect the environment.

If you’re looking for a new outdoor adventure, check out our Hells Canyon boat tours. Our certified jet boats will take you to amazing spots for hiking to see the beautiful landscapes and diverse wildlife the area has to offer before picking you up and leading you back out of the canyon.

7 Eco-Friendly Alternatives for Common Hiking Supplies