One of the most notable movements in high-end adventure and sportswear is the incorporation of fabric created from recycled ocean plastics. Danish running apparel company Rockay does this, as does backpack maker Got-Bag and trail apparel maker LIVN with its Ecotrek pants – these companies often use ocean waste (bottles, fishing nets or buoys , for example) for their synthetic nylon yarn. Helly Hansen is firmly committed to this sustainable and eco-friendly effort with many new items in its Spring/Summer 2023 Outdoor collection made with Ocean Bound recycled materials.
The Outdoor collection, which featured prominently at the 2022 Outdoor Retailer show in Denver, will feature more than a dozen trail and mountain apparel constructed with Ocean Bound material.
Helly Hansen’s Tara Yant showed ActionHub this new material at the show. The end goal, unsurprisingly, is to reduce waste, reduce carbon dioxide emissions, prevent further pollution of waterways, and avoid negatively impacting wildlife. Microplastics deposited in large bodies of water by weather events, currents or detritus can also have a major effect on flora and fauna.
So what is Ocean Bound material? It is a material made from plastic that is sourced approximately 30 miles from a coastline or major waterway in regions at high risk of plastic pollution. There are two paths for the Ocean Bound material: one that results in a polyamide (from fishing buoys) and another that results in a polyester (from plastic bottles).
It all starts with discarded fishing gear or mismanaged plastic waste, which is then broken down into small granules to be transformed into molten polymers. These polymers are then spun into synthetic yarns and woven or knitted into the final fabric for products like the Blaze 3L Shell Jacket compatible with backpacks and harnesses or the stretchy and comfortable Roam Pants.
It doesn’t matter if the end result is polyamide or polyester, this type of material is pushed forward with the environment in mind. For example, Helly’s Ocean Bound Polyester reuses approximately 25 PET bottles for each fleece jacket created and approximately 20 for each outer jacket.
While a few of Helly’s sailing apparel is currently made with Ocean Bound material, the Norwegian company is looking forward to expanding its offering next year. Most notable among Helly Hansen’s Spring and Summer 2023 releases are items from the Blaze series, which includes the 3L Shell Jacket and 3L Shell Pants.
The “3L” in the name refers to the Helly Tech Performance 3-layer system which advertises itself as being waterproof, windproof and breathable. The company works closely with Snohomish County Volunteer Search and Rescue in Washington state and other SAR teams to get real-world product feedback, Yant said.
The Helly Tech Performance system has a unique membrane designed to keep water molecules out, while letting sweat vapor through, ideally making you more comfortable on your adventure. The 3L jacket and pants are made of a polyamide outer fabric and a polyester backing. They come with a range of pockets and adjustment features.
The jacket also has a backpack and harness compatible design, an adjustable and climbing helmet compatible hood, underarm ventilation, articulated sleeves for optimal mobility and a brushed tricot chin guard.
“It’s a great day hike or if you’re going on an overnight trip,” Yant said.
The Blaze 3L Shell Pant has articulated knees and a crotch gusset for freedom of movement and two-way side zippers to the hips for easy on and off and ventilation.
Other Spring 2023 items featuring Ocean Bound material are the breathable Roam pants and shorts for an active lifestyle and the lightweight and absorbent Tech Trail Print shorts for women.
Yant describes the Roam items as “particularly light and very ‘athleisure'”. “
I’ve worn several garments made from recycled ocean materials, and it’s an industry trend that I hope to see continue to grow as big brands like Helly Hansen help amplify the importance of these fabrics. innovative.
One day, we may even see clothes made from other sustainable materials, like coffee grounds. And maybe “one day” will come sooner than we think:
Ryan Tipps is editor of ActionHub. He lives along the Blue Ridge Mountains, is an avid hiker, hiker and trail runner, and has been part of the wilderness search and rescue community since 2005.