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Eco-Friendly, Organic Hiking Boots

Updated on February 27, 2013
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

Earthkeepers eco friendly hiking boots. image:via amazon
Earthkeepers eco friendly hiking boots. image:via amazon

If you love hiking and are concerned about the environment then eco friendly hiking boots may be just what you are looking for. This footwear is made of sustainable materials. Many manufacturers plan for the eventual demise of the boots and make them in such a way that they do not negatively impact the environment when they can no longer be used and must be thrown away.

You may find that the hiking boots cost a bit more than some other types but you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you are not creating a heavy carbon footprint with your new footwear.

What to Look For in Quality Hiking Boots

Some of the most important things to look for in sustainable, eco-friendly hiking boots are natural materials. This reduces the impact of production and reduces the amounts of harmful materials that are used.

Choose hiking boots that list the following materials:

  • Low impact leather (uses enzymes in production rather than chemicals)
  • Imitation leather
  • Recycled rubber
  • Organic cotton and other fabrics
  • Hemp
  • Water based adhesives and finishes
  • Organic dyes
  • Bees wax
  • Hand sewn

Leather or Imitation Leather?

Leather is generally treated with many chemicals during the tanning process. It also is the skin of animals, which bothers some people. In addition, raising livestock is hard on the environment. It would seem that faux or imitation leather would be the preferred option, but is it?

Natural Leather

Many companies are now tanning with natural enzymes rather than the toxic chemicals that leather used to be treated with. This reduces the impact to the environment quite a bit. As long as people eat meat leather will be easily available. Animals are not raised specifically for their leather, it is a by product of the meat industry. By using leather in their hiking boots, manufacturers are creating less waste.

Imitation Leather

On the other hand, imitation leather is a polyurethane. It is related to PVC, vinyl, and other petroleum-based materials. These materials create large amounts of pollution from the factories that make them. While they do not utilize animal products, and therefore are acceptable to most vegans, faux leather items are as, or even more, harmful to the environment as real leather.

Timberland Creates a Boot Destined to Be Recycled

Timberland, one of the largest hiking and camping equipment companies ever, has announced it will be releasing a boot in 2009 that is meant to be recycled when it is no longer useful. The boot, called Earthkeepers 2.0 is designed to be disassembled and ultimately recycled. The boot is made with 80 percent recyclable materials, making it one of the most eco friendly hiking boots on the market.

The company plans that Earthkeepers 2.0 customers will return their boots to Timberland when they are worn out. The company will take the boot apart and recycle the soles and lining. They will then have the leather cleaned and polished, ready to become a new pair of boots.

More Eco Friendly Hiking Boots

Timberland is not the only company creating boots for a cleaner environment. Other companies that offer environmentally friendly hiking boots and other footwear are:

  • Green Home
  • Pachira Hemp
  • Veggie Trekker
  • Patagonia Nomad
  • Garmont
  • Vasque

Whether you are hiking, or running trails, you will feel better about it when you are wearing eco friendly hiking boots and trail shoes. The initial cost may be a bit more but ultimately the quality and low impact of environmentally friendly shoes and boots is worth it.

Remember that these shoes will not be being made in Asian sweatshops but are generally hand crafted by someone who is passionate about his work. You are not just paying for shoes, you are supporting an economy.


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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Recycling the soles of the boots isn't a problem if they last a long time. I have a pair of Vasque hiking boots I purchased 30 years ago. I have kept the leather well sealed and still wear them during inclement weather or while gardening. The soles are in great condition. Wilderness hiking doesn't wear the soles. They are still comfy too though I did add an insole so time ago.

    • profile image

      Best Hiking Boots 

      8 years ago

      If only they could come up with a way for the soles to break down naturally after a few years. Unfortunately, I doubt many people would return their hiking boots to a manufacturer for recycling.

    • Camping Dan profile image

      Camping Dan 

      9 years ago

      I had not thought about eco-friendly with my boots before. I did stop wearing hiking boots years ago though when trail shoes started coming out. Many of these are more nimble and lighter on the feet than boots.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      thank you for every thing

    • profile image

      ForestWander Nature Photography 

      9 years ago

      These are great looking boots.

      I like the idea of these being eco friendly.


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