Outdoor Adventure Gear Made from All-Natural Materials

A roundup of the latest and greatest

By Brad Rassler

February 27, 2017

Skip the plastic and neoprene outdoor accoutrements. You'll blend into your surroundings much better with cutting-edge adventure gear crafted from all-natural materials.

Bamboo Adventure Bike frames

Bamboo is plentiful, requires little water, regenerates quickly, and makes for killer bike frames. It's also naturally shock-absorbing, offering a cushy ride. California boutique frame-maker CALFEE sells hemp-and-flax-lugged Bamboo Adventure Bike frames starting at $3,000. However, with Calfee's new DIY kit—which comes with tubes, frame hardware, and tools for road, mountain, cross, and BMX frames—you can build a mostly natural bike for much less. $800, calfeedesign.com

Soul Poles

Trekking/skiing poles were commonly made from bamboo before aluminum and carbon supplanted it. Given bamboo's high strength-to-weight ratio, it's a welcome throwback. Musician and ski-pole maven Bryon Friedman's Soul Poles, handmade in Park City, Utah, offer pleasing heft and ergo grips and feature steel-tipped ferrules to protect the shafts. Come winter, attach baskets (provided) and pair the poles with skis sporting bamboo cores. $135, soulpoles.com 

bamboo paddle

RivrStyx founder Jim Snyder, a member of the International Whitewater Hall of Fame, was the first apprentice of legendary paddle-builder Keith Backlund. Snyder has been shaping bespoke river sticks—reliable tools that double as artwork—since 1975, using hardwoods he harvests himself. The Smithy, his most popular paddle, features a low swing weight and high strength, a sassafras and northern white ash shaft, and blades made from black willow, basswood, curly maple, and tochi. $650, rivrstyx.com


PATAGONIA has partnered with sustainable-rubber manufacturer Yulex to reengineer its wetsuits using the natural milky latex emulsion of hevea trees rather than petroleum-based neoprene. Yulex works with a Guatemalan hevea plantation certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and the Rainforest Alliance. Every Patagonia wetsuit, including the Lite Yulex Long John, now boasts 85 percent natural rubber. $169, patagonia.com

bamboo knife

French knife-maker OPINEL has been stamping blades in the Savoie region since 1890. Its No. 8 folder is slim enough to live inconspicuously in a pocket, and its 3.25-inch Inox stainless steel edge deftly slices everything from saucisson to climbing cordage—making it a trusty companion for any adventurer. Opinel manufactures the No. 8 with a variety of handles, including a fine-grained burled olive wood. $22, opinel-usa.com

This article appeared in the March/April 2017 edition with the headline "Natural Selection."