The only thing more fun than being outdoors? Shopping for outdoor gear. All the better when that gear helps give back to the places we love so much.
Indeed, consumerism takes a toll on the planet, from energy consumption to landfill waste to unfair labor practices — which has customers and companies alike becoming more conscious of their impact. So how do you shop this season without feeling like you're part of the problem?
Whether you're writing your own wish list or buying for others, here are some cool, ethical gift ideas for outdoor lovers. All help support small local businesses and sustainable brands committed to making the world a better place.
Teren Campfire Puffy, $349
> Where to buy: terendesigns.com
> Why we love it: This cutting-edge winter coat defies every element: It's windproof, waterproof, tearproof and — wait for it — fireproof, which means no more campfire spark or ember holes in that fancy new jacket. Its single-panel design is attractive and durable, while its insulation is made from recycled water bottles. Available colors include "coal black," "marine blue" and "ember orange."
> Why we feel good about it: This Chattanooga-based brand innovates beyond its apparel. Recently, Teren launched a creative new marketing partnership program to help support local nonprofit organizations. Advertising on such channels as Facebook, Google or YouTube costs the company about 20-30% of the product's retail value, explains co-owner Casey Hyde. So why not find a way to spend that money in the community instead? The idea is to partner with local organizations, having them market Teren's products to their audiences or email lists. In exchange, Teren will donate a portion of its sales to that organization — similar to a restaurant "giveback" event, only dishing up high-tech gear rather than dinner. If your organization is interested in applying to the program, email email@example.com.
Burlaep Camp Trucker Hat, $28
>Where to buy: Burlaep, 801 E. 11th St., Chattanooga, or at burlaep.com
>Why we love it: It's lightweight, breathable, foldable and packable. Plus, it looks cool, and it floats. What more could you want? Prepare to take it everywhere — it's the ideal companion for any adventure.
>Why we feel good about it: Chattanooga outdoor apparel company Burlaep is among the only eco-conscious screen-printing businesses, in that it uses only water-based inks and reusable cloths rather than paper towels. The company also has partnered with the Southeastern Climbers Coalition to print its members' T-shirts at a discount of greater than 50%. The coalition then sells the shirts to help support the nonprofit's causes. Burlaep also offers limited edition T-shirts sold to support specific causes, such as one this past fall that Burlaep created in partnership with High Point Climbing and Fitness gym to benefit SCC and WeClimb, a local organization that uses rock climbing as a tool to promote diversity and introduce underserved populations to the outdoors.
Swiftwick VISION Impression National Parks Collection socks, $15.99
> Where to buy: swiftwick.com
> Why we love it: Whether you favor the snow-capped peaks of the Grand Tetons, the majestic river-carved Grand Canyon or the Great Smoky Mountains in our backyard, you'll find a design that suits your park preference among sock company Swiftwick's VISION Impression National Parks Collection. Featuring 360-degree designs of 15 different national parks, the socks are made with high-performance fibers to keep your feet dry and blister-free wherever you choose to explore.
> Why we feel good about it: In addition to showing love for your favorite national park, Swiftwick supports the National Parks Foundation, the official charity of our national parks. The Brentwood, Tennessee, sock company also partners with Nashville organizations that share its mission of "empowering people to be the best versions of themselves through the pursuit of outdoor adventure." Partner organizations include the nonprofit Friends of Warner Parks, a program focused on connecting underserved youth to nature through camps and hands-on activities at Warner Park Nature Center in Nashville, and Oasis Bike Workshop, which offers weekly bike-building workshops for Nashville youth that include bike safety and maintenance training as well as use of its pump track.
Velo campfire coffee kit, featuring an AeroPress ($33) and Natural Ethiopia — Kanyon Mountain coffee blend ($18 for one bag; $16.20 with a subscription)
> Where to buy: Velo Coffee Roasters, 509 E. Main St., Chattanooga, or at velocoffee.com
> Why we love it: The lightweight AeroPress is great for traveling and an ideal way to brew a small, quick cup of coffee around the campfire. The press comes with 350 filters, filter cap, filter holder, funnel, stirrer and scoop. While you can't go wrong with any of Velo's coffee blends, we chose Kanyon Mountain for its unique flavor, blending notes of winey fruit, cranberry, strawberry, floral and chocolate.
>Why we feel good about it: When it comes to coffee, Chattanooga's Velo Coffee Roasters is committed to sustainability and transparency, only purchasing beans from importers who pay their coffee producers living wages. Read about the farmers who produced your bag of coffee on its website.
"Saving America's Amazon" by Ben Raines, $35
>Where to buy: alabamabooksmith.com
>Why we love it: Who knew America's most biodiverse ecosystem is in Alabama? In "Saving America's Amazon," journalist and environmental activist Ben Raines focuses on why the Mobile-Tensaw river delta in Southern Alabama is so special and what we can do to protect it.
>Why we feel good about it: By spreading the word about this special region and its more than 300 species of birds, 126 species of fish, 69 reptiles, 46 mammals and 30 amphibians, the goal of the author is to bring awareness to the significance of the area, the threats it faces and the importance of conserving the most significant of Alabama's waterways. You can feel even better about it by supporting a regional business owner and ordering from an independent bookstore, such as The Alabama Booksmith. You may even score a signed copy.
Fair Flies handmade fishing flies, ranging from $2.25-$9.50
>Where to buy: fairflies.com
>Why we love it: Chattanooga-based Fair Flies' fishing flies are made using quality fly fur, meaning your flies will look better in water. Whether you're searching for dry, nymph, top water or saltwater flies, these colorful, attractive products make the perfect addition to any fisherman's tackle box.
>Why we feel good about it: Fair Flies works with partners in developing nations to employ marginalized and exploited people. By offering a livable wage, they help prevent human trafficking. Plus, the company uses waste-free manufacturing processes, biodegradable packaging and non-toxic metals that are gentle on the planet.
Terra Running Co.'s Tennessee-themed BOCO Gear Technical Trucker Hat, $30
> Where to buy: Terra Running Company, 90 N. Ocoee Street, Cleveland, Tennessee, or at terrarunning.com
> Why we love it: Blending style with function, these hats are made with an internal moisture-wicking band that keeps your head cool while keeping the sun (and sweat!) out of your eyes. They come in a variety of fun prints, including these locally-themed designs found exclusively at Terra Running, making the perfect stocking stuffer for the runner in your life.
> Why we feel good about it: Terra Running Company gives back to the community in a variety of ways, including food donations for the United Way Ocoee Region, collected during its annual Thanksgiving Day 5K on the Cleveland Greenway. Plus, it donates gently used clothing and shoes to local nonprofit The Caring Place, and hosts free wellness programs for the community, including weekly group runs and injury clinics. In addition to BOCO hats, you'll also find shoes and more at the locally-owned specialty store.
Handup "Strong Life" Gloves, $29
> Where to buy: Handup Gloves, 1112 McCallie Ave., Chattanooga, or at handupgloves.com
> Why we love it: Designed by artist and Hopi tribe member, Duane Koyawena, these "Strong Life/ Hongvit Qatsit" cycling gloves blend culture and performance. The design represents Hopi pottery designs using colors associated with traditional pigments. Meanwhile, the bold, minimalist production is perfect for any cyclist, from average joes to pros. In addition to cycling gloves, the Chattanooga company offers a line of golf gloves as well as four separate glove weights to get you through any season.
> Why we feel good about it: Part of Handup's "Gloves that Give" program, which donates a portion of select glove sales to various organizations, these gloves help support The Hopi Education Endowment Fund, dedicated to providing every Hopi with the opportunity to pursue their educational dreams.
Freefly bamboo long sleeve shirt, $54.95 for solid colors, $64.95 for camo
>Where to buy: freeflyapparel.com
>Why we love it: This lightweight bamboo long-sleeve is made for both comfort and performance. The plant-based material is silky soft, moisture wicking, odor resistant and features sun protection, making it an ideal choice for a day on the water or pretty much any other activity under the sun. And — bonus! — bamboo is a more sustainable fabric than cotton. It comes in eight colors and a few unique bamboo prints, and you're going to want them all.
>Why we feel good about it: Headquartered in Charleston, South Carolina, Freefly makes clothing designed for adventures on the water, so it's fitting that the company supports two Charleston-based nonprofit organizations with water-related missions: Charleston Waterkeeper, which cleans waterways in the Charleston area, and Water Mission, which is focused on helping communities worldwide gain access to clean drinking water.
Sierra Madre "Hot Pocket" sleeping bag warmer, $199
>Where to buy: sierramadreresearch.com
> Why we love it: Offering instant heat in the wild, the Hot Pocket helps to store, compress and pre-heat sleeping bags and quilts. Just open the pack up and lay it flat, then slip it into your sleeping bag for warmth. Available in three sizes, this game-changer packs up in a convenient day pack, making it easily portable and ideal for winter hiking or camping.
> Why we feel good about it: Once a Chattanooga startup, Sierra Madre is determined to wipe out the global suffering caused by unclean drinking water by partnering with the ONE campaign. For every one product purchased, Sierra Madre and ONE donate money to ensure clean water to one person for an entire year.