The Sport Conrad Materials Encyclopedia
Sports and outdoor brands are constantly working on technologies that make it even more comfortable to pursue your passion - more or less regardless of the weather. The development of new fibres, innovative constructions and environmentally friendly concepts makes it difficult to keep track. In our materials glossary, we aim to explain the technologies used in many outdoor products.
We look at the differences between hard and soft shells and give an overview of the main membrane technologies. We also list the attributes that go into awarding our WIR DENEKN UM label. The label is designed to help you choose when you are looking for more environmentally friendly alternatives. Enjoy browsing!
Membranes are wafer-thin protective barriers that make outdoor clothing and accessories waterproof, windproof and breathable. This allows sportspeople to pursue their hobby or profession in adverse conditions. Manufacturers of clothing, footwear and equipment use a variety of membrane manufacturers. The best known is GORE-TEX, but Sympatex, Dermizax, HDry and others are proven technologies used by many well-known brands. Some brands, such as Maloja and Vaude, have also developed their own membrane innovations.
To ensure that our natural air conditioning works smoothly and that we do not overheat despite rain protection, membrane manufacturers use different principles. A rough distinction can be made between porous and non-porous constructions. Both have the same aim: to allow body moisture to escape, while preventing moisture from entering.
In addition, membrane specialists use different materials, which can vary greatly in terms of their environmental friendliness and climate balance. For several years, however, many manufacturers have been working on alternatives that do not contain dangerous chemicals such as PFCs and PFOAs.
It is also important for athletes to think about their intended use before buying a membrane product. After all, not everyone is going to climb the next eight-thousand-metre peak in their new rain jacket, and more is not always better. And to make things even more complicated, membranes can be found in both hard shells, such as the classic rain jacket, and in the slightly softer and usually warmer soft shells - although not every soft shell product necessarily has a membrane!
>Here you can find out more about how membranes work, which manufacturers make them and what sportspeople need to look out for.
Image © Sympatex
Major membrane manufacturers and proprietary membranes
GORE-TEX® is an ultra-thin, microporous membrane used in jackets, trousers, shoes and even socks. The main benefits of the Gore-Tex® membrane are waterproof and windproof protection combined with high breathability. You can rely on the GORE-TEX® GUARANTEED TO KEEP YOU DRY™ promise, even in extreme conditions and unexpected weather.
Products with the new GORE-TEX ePE membrane will be available for the 2022/23 winter season. The new waterproof membrane made from expanded polyethylene is PFC-free, unlike the manufacturer's laminates currently on the market, and also has a lower carbon footprint.
Smypatex is the manufacturer of the membrane of the same name and specialises in the water-repellent lamination of textiles. The non-porous polyester-based membrane is used in sports products such as clothing and footwear. The Sympatex membrane is recyclable and the company is actively working towards a more sustainable outdoor industry. By 2030, the brand aims to close the textile cycle for functional clothing and become 100 percent recyclable.
The elastic and waterproof Toray Dermizax® membrane is hydrophilic. This makes it waterproof and ensures that perspiration is wicked away by moisture-absorbing molecules. What makes it special: Toray uses recyclable polyurethane and not polytetrafluoroethylene like many other manufacturers.
The microporous eVent® membrane made of ePTFE works on the same principle as GORE-TEX. Millions of tiny pores allow perspiration to escape in the form of water vapour, but rain in the form of much larger water droplets cannot penetrate.
With eVent® Bio, the manufacturer offers a more environmentally friendly alternative with a castor bean-based membrane. The flexible membrane has a lower carbon footprint, a PFC-free DWR and is recyclable at the end of its life.
The environmentally friendly Xpore membrane from Taiwanese manufacturer BenQ Materials is free of PTFE and PFCs (polytetrafluoroethylene and perfluorocarbons). In addition, no solvents are used in the manufacture of the hydrophobic and nanoporous membrane. The wafer-thin membrane is completely waterproof and windproof.
The waterproof and breathable HDry® membrane is welded directly to the inside of the outer fabric using a patented 3D lamination process. As there are no seams, the breathability is fully utilised. This efficient technology is widely used in footwear and backpacks, as well as jackets and gloves.
The aerobrane™ membrane from Swiss manufacturer Schoeller Textil AG is produced using an electrospinning process. This process creates a fibrous structure of microscopically small fibres, similar to a very tightly spun, fine net. This intertwined but tightly woven structure acts as a barrier against water from the outside, but allows perspiration in the form of water vapour to pass through - wind doesn't stand a chance either.
The proprietary membrane of the Bavarian outdoor brand maloja owes its name to the stone pine: the bark of this frost-resistant tree served the product developers as a model for the weather protection required for outdoor sports. Like bark, the Shell products with the Cembra membrane protect against wind and weather. The laminate is largely made from recycled polyester and is fully recyclable at the end of its life cycle. All Cembra shells have an environmentally friendly waterproofing (DWR). Maloja distinguishes between three different laminates, depending on the purpose of the garment: robustness, lightness or thermal function.
The category of softshell products can best be defined by looking at the differences to hardshell products, such as the completely waterproof rain jacket. Softshell is the name given to a breathable and water-repellent fabric used in clothing and accessories. Compared to hard shells, which don't stretch very well and can sometimes rustle, softshells are much softer, more elastic and warmer, but typically not completely waterproof. Compared to products such as fleece jackets, soft shells still offer better weather protection, as they are normally very windproof and also offer some protection against moisture.
Even within the soft shell category, there are significant differences in the construction and focus of the products. Those that focus more on weather protection have breathable membranes that are also waterproof. Others combine wind protection with water repellency, and still others offer only wind protection. Softshells tend to be more stretchy, so they can be cut closer to the body and, depending on their intended use, can be more or less insulating thanks to the use of fleece on the inside of the fabric.
Softshell products are ideal for activities that require some weather protection, but where comfort and freedom of movement are paramount. Mountaineers, climbers and hikers, among others, benefit from the comfortable wear properties. For other activities, such as ski touring, hybrid constructions of waterproof laminates with breathable and flexible areas are increasingly being used.
In addition to softshell products, there are also very thin layers such as wind jackets or vests made from materials such as Pertex Quantum, where thermal retention is a secondary consideration. These layers are only designed to protect you from cooling down in the wind. They are particularly suitable as lightweight companions for short cycling and walking trips where no major weather changes are expected.
They are indispensable in outdoor and mountain sports: insulating layers ensure that our body temperature remains constant even in extreme cold. Insulation materials are used in a wide range of products, from ski helmets to classic down jackets and shoes. Materials such as wool, synthetic fibres or down are used. Due to their natural properties or the way they are processed, they form small air pockets that store body heat.
Down has the best weight to warmth ratio. This is why products such as down jackets or sleeping bags are so light and extremely warm. The use of down for animal welfare reasons is controversial. This is why many manufacturers are looking to use RDS down (Responsible Down Standard - see Seals & Certificates below). Down recycling is also becoming increasingly important. The disadvantage of down products is that they lose their good thermal properties when they get wet.
An alternative to down is synthetic fibre insulation, for example from manufacturers such as PrimaLoft®, Thermore and Thinsulate. These materials mimic the properties of down by creating a multitude of small air pockets. The wafer-thin synthetic fibres, which are many times finer than human hair, are usually made into a wadding that is sandwiched between the outer material and an inner layer. Synthetic insulation has the advantage of keeping you warm when wet and is less sensitive to handling - but it cannot match the thermal performance of down.
Fleece products are also popular as 'mid-layers', i.e. warming intermediate layers. Fleece is mainly made from synthetic fibres such as polyester and has a roughened surface to keep you warm. The fluffy 'pile' retains heat by trapping air against the body, similar to synthetic wadding.
Wool, a natural product, has been on the rise in recent years, with more and more manufacturers turning the animal fibre into insulation products. Like synthetic fibre insulation, wool is used as a warming layer in jackets, for example in Ortovox's Swisswool insulation. Wool can also be made into fleece, but this is more costly.
In their search for ecological and ethical alternatives, manufacturers such as Vaude have discovered the fibre of the kapok tree. The soft, fluffy fibre is used by the ingredient brand PrimaLoft® to make insulation products that use fewer resources than products made from virgin polyester.
Down is known for its excellent thermal properties. But what makes it so special? Down is usually associated with feathers. But it's not the feathers that give down its outstanding properties. It is the down that nestles under the covered feathers of waterfowl such as ducks and geese. Unlike feathers, down has a core and a three-dimensional shape. Several soft hairs, like snowflakes, emerge from the core and grow together. This creates small spaces where heat can be stored. Few other materials have such good thermal properties.
There are also differences in the quality of down. Goose down feathers are of higher quality than duck down feathers, and the mixing ratio also plays a role. The rule of thumb is: "The higher the proportion of down, the higher the quality of the product. The insulation is called the bulking power or fill power. This means that the greater the fill volume, the better the insulation value, i.e. heat storage. Down can be found in jackets, waistcoats and sleeping bags, for example. This fill power is usually given as a Cuin value and can often be found in the product description of down products. The value stands for cubic inch and indicates the volume to which one ounce of compressed down will expand again after 24 hours. The higher the value, the higher the quality of the down filling used. Good down qualities start at 650 cuin and very high quality products reach values of 800 cuin and above.
Synthetic Fibre Insulation
The Polartec® brand is best known for producing the polyester fleece Polarflecce, laying the foundation for the triumph of fleece products in outdoor and mountain sports. The brand still stands for high quality fleece and insulation products, but now also offers base layer and shell solutions. Polartec® Classic, Polartec® Thermal Pro®, Shearling Fleece and Polartec® High Loft™ are the most popular mid-layer fabrics in the Polartec® range. These are fleeces with different thicknesses, variable structures and varying degrees of loft.
In the field of insulation, Polartec has made a name for itself with Polartec® Alpha®. Originally developed for the US Army, the fabric quickly established itself in outdoor sports. The reason: The structure of the fabric provides optimal warmth at low intensities and actively "breathes" when the body is in motion. Perfect for strenuous exercise in cool temperatures.
With Polartec® Powerfill™, the brand also offers an insulating fleece that mimics the properties of down. The hollow fibres create thousands of tiny air pockets that trap heat.
The PrimaLoft® brand is an American company specialising in fabric technologies. It focuses on the production of functional fabrics and insulation that combine performance, durability and sustainability.
The brand is known for its polyester synthetic fibre insulation, which is known for its high thermal performance with low weight and small pack size. Its thermal properties are comparable to down, but Primaloft® insulation warms even when wet and is not bulky. PrimaLoft® offers the right insulation for a wide range of activities. All products are 100% Oeko-Tex Standard 100 compliant and 90% bluesign® compliant. With the PrimaLoft® Bio™ product platform, the brand has a fibre in its range that, under certain conditions, such as in landfills or in seawater, completely decomposes into its natural components. The fibre can be found, for example, in insulation products from the maloja brand or in gloves from the Roeckl brand. The Americans are also incorporating more and more recycled components into their functional and insulation products. Some insulation and functional materials are already made from 100 percent recycled PET bottles.
The Italian brand Thermore specialises in the production of synthetic fibre insulation. The insulation is available as fleece or as loose tufts of fibres that can be blown into chambers like down. The brand now uses recycled material from collected PET bottles for many of its insulation solutions. As well as providing a high level of comfort, Thermore insulations are distinguished by their durability and ease of care. The products are used in both outdoor sports and fashion.
Like PrimaLoft® and Thermore®, the Thinsulate™ brand specialises in synthetic fibre insulation. Part of the 3M group, Thinsulate is used as a warming insert in clothing, gloves and accessories.
Wool is a natural fibre that people have used to make clothing and accessories since time immemorial. There are several hundred breeds of sheep in the world - the best known in the outdoors is the Merino sheep, which produces very high quality wool. Other animals used for wool production include yaks (a type of cattle) and cashmere goats. Animal welfare organisations have criticised the farming of animals for wool as cruel. Mulesing in particular has been criticised - many manufacturers therefore rely on the use of certified wool, such as the Responsible Wool Standard. See also the point on fair wool in the attributes section below.
Wool can be used in all kinds of layers for mountaineering and outdoor sports, warming or cooling as required. It can be worn very comfortably as a first layer directly on the skin, but is also used by many manufacturers as a mid-layer and insulation material, or even as an outer layer. It can absorb a third of its own weight in water or sweat before it feels damp. Here are some insulation products made from wool.
lavalan® is insulation made from European virgin wool and corn-based PLA fibres. The brand's insulation products are made from 100% renewable resources and are both recyclable and biodegradable. lavalan® nonwovens are used as fillings in clothing, bedding, sleeping bags and accessories and are breathable, temperature regulating, odour neutralising and anti-allergenic.
The natural insulation is used by brands such as Black Diamond, Fjällräven, On, Vaude and Ziener.
Swisswool & Tirolwool
The wool fibre from Switzerland and Tyrol is characterised by excellent thermal properties, high climate comfort and regional origin. Wool has a temperature-regulating effect because the wool fibres are strongly crimped and the spaces between the fibres provide plenty of room for air. This air acts as an insulating layer against heat and cold in both summer and winter. Wool fibres can absorb up to 35% of their own weight in moisture without feeling wet. Regionality is a feature of both Swisswool and Tirolwool. They support local sheep farmers and ensure, for example, a fair price for wool.
DownWool is a high quality filling made from 70% RDS certified down and 30% specially treated wool, combining the benefits of both materials.
Down has a very high insulating capacity at a low weight. This makes down an excellent filling material for clothing and sleeping bags. However, down only insulates when it is dry. This means that as the humidity increases, the insulation decreases.
Wool, on the other hand, has very good insulating properties and absorbs moisture, so unlike down, it retains its insulating properties as the humidity rises. Wool also regulates body temperature and is antibacterial. The downside to wool is that it is slightly heavier than down.
To make DownWool, down and wool are mixed and permanently bonded together in a technically complex process. Compared to pure down, DownWool insulates well in high humidity. The advantage over a pure wool filling is the significantly lower weight of DownWool.
The mountaineers of yesteryear wore woollen jackets and loden trousers. For a long time, women were forced to climb mountains in long, heavy dresses or skirts. Some of them changed their clothes on the way or risked social criticism, exclusion or even fines by wearing gathered trousers, the so-called bloomers.
Today, mountaineers of both sexes are spoilt for choice, with different brands, materials, cuts, colours and more or less sustainable products. Technical advances have made mountaineering more comfortable than ever. Sophisticated fabrics and fibre blends ensure that our personal air conditioners work smoothly and that we stay comfortable even during sweaty activities.
But not all fibres are the same: some fibres differ significantly in terms of their origin, properties, durability and ecological balance. A broad distinction can be made between natural fibres such as cotton, wool or hemp, bio-based cellulose-based fibres such as Lyocell and purely synthetic fibres based on petroleum.
Manufacturers often mix fibres, for example merino wool is often mixed with synthetic fibres to make it more robust. From an environmental point of view, this is problematic, as only monofilament materials can currently be easily recycled. Some brands are therefore returning to single-variety concepts. Swedish brand Houdini uses either pure merino wool or 100% synthetics in its base layers. Other manufacturers, such as Icebreaker, are also trying to phase out the use of synthetic fibres in their products. Some manufacturers are also increasingly using more environmentally friendly materials such as flax instead of carbon and corn-based plastics in hard goods such as skis and snowboards or accessories such as goggles and helmets.
To help you choose your next garment, equipment or accessory, here is a list of various fibres and materials.
Image © Icebreaker
Yarns, Materials & technologies
The cellulosic chemical fibre viscose has a natural basis in the raw material cellulose, but can only be obtained through chemical processes. Various raw materials such as bamboo, eucalyptus or beech are used as the basis for viscose. The cellulose is chemically dissolved and pressed through spinnerets. Compared to modal, viscose fibre is less stable. In the fashion industry, viscose fibre is also known as artificial silk, because viscose fabrics have a very soft drape - but compared to silk, viscose is much cheaper and easier to care for. Because the soft fibre is very absorbent, it is also used in outdoor textiles. Although viscose is biodegradable, the manufacturing process is very energy intensive and often involves the use of hazardous chemicals. Lenzing has developed a closed chemical process for viscose and modal fibres. This reduces waste water and emissions to a minimum.
Lyocell & Tencel®
As unwieldy as the name may sound, the fibre feels silky soft on the skin: we are talking about the industrially produced fibre Lyocell. The cellulose fibre is made from wood and is biodegradable. It is increasingly used in sportswear because of its moisture-regulating properties and comfort. It is also very tear-resistant, even when wet, making products made from it robust and durable companions. What is special about lyocell is that the manufacturing process has little impact on the environment, thanks to the use of environmentally friendly solvents and a closed material cycle. Lyocell is the generic name for fibres and is offered by Lenzing AG under the brand name Tencel™.
Modal is made from beech wood and is a pure cellulose fibre. The raw material is debarked, broken into small chips and processed. The result is a honey-like mass that is pressed through micro-fine nozzles. The fibres are then spun. These processes can only be carried out on an industrial scale, which is why Modal is classified as a man-made fibre, despite its natural origin. Modal fibres can be spun very thin, making them soft and comfortable to wear. It is also elastic and dimensionally stable. Its ability to wick moisture away from the body makes it particularly popular in the outdoor industry.
Natural fibers & materials
Cotton is a natural fibre made from the bolls of the cotton plant. Cotton products are soft and comfortable to wear, durable, breathable and easy to care for. Cotton stores moisture and, unlike synthetic fibres, does not transfer it. Cotton has been made into fabrics and clothing for at least 5000 years.
Unlike conventional cotton, organic cotton is grown without the use of chemical pesticides and fertilisers. Organic cotton requires less water to grow because farmers plant the crop on a thicker layer of humus. Genetically modified cotton plants also use more water than naturally grown cotton.
Bamboo is an extremely fast-growing raw material that is used in many industries, including furniture, bicycles and electronic housings. The grass grows back so quickly that large quantities can be harvested without endangering the crop. The robust plants require little fertiliser or pesticide to grow. The textile industry uses either bamboo bast fibres or regenerated bamboo fibres. Bamboo bast fibres are obtained from the stalks of the bamboo plant and are processed in a similar way to linen fibres. Regenerated bamboo fibres are bamboo-based viscose or modal fibres and are therefore bio-based man-made fibres.
Hemp fibre can be produced in a relatively environmentally friendly way because the hemp plant is very hardy, grows quickly and does not require fertilisers or pesticides to grow. Water consumption is also relatively low. Thousands of years ago, the stalks of the hemp plant were used to make rope and textiles. Over time, the natural fibre was replaced by cotton, and later the cultivation of hemp was banned due to its use as a narcotic. The fibre has been making a comeback in recent years and is being used in clothing by well-known manufacturers. This is because the material has many positive properties such as odour neutralisation, climate regulation, moisture transport, UV protection, is skin-friendly and robust.
plant fibre comes from the fruit capsules of the kapok tree, which grows in
Asia and South America. Because the trees grow wild and are not usually
fertilised or treated with pesticides, the extraction of kapok fibre is
considered sustainable. The hollow kapok fibres are often referred to as plant down
and are used for upholstery. Kapok fibres are water-repellent thanks to their
natural wax coating. This natural product is biodegradable.
Linen & Flax
Linen fibres are obtained from the stalks of the flax plant. The term linen is derived from the Latin "linum" and refers to flax, one of the oldest cultivated plants. Findings show that flax fibre was used thousands of years ago. Flax requires much less water to grow than cotton, for example, and can grow in northern climates. Linen, along with wool, was one of the most important raw materials for textile production until the 19th century, when it was increasingly replaced by cotton. Linen has recently regained popularity in fashion because the fibre is very tear-resistant, breathable, moisture-regulating, dirt-repellent and odour-resistant.
In ski construction, some manufacturers are using flax as a substitute for carbon fibre, which is less environmentally friendly.
Leather is a tanned animal skin that has been used for thousands of years to make clothing, footwear and accessories. It is made from the skins of cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, game and exotic animals. The use of leather has been criticised for environmental, social and animal welfare reasons: the processing of leather in low-wage countries is often dangerous for people and the environment, as many toxic chemicals are usually used in the tanning process. Toxic chromium(III) salts are used in most leather tanning processes, which can form toxic chromium(VI). Chromium(VI) is considered a carcinogen and causes skin damage. The same applies to formaldehyde, which is often used in the tanning process. This is why tanneries are increasingly switching to vegetable tanning. Vegetable tanned leather is better for the environment and for people. That is why shoe manufacturers such as Ricosta, Meindl, Lowa, Hanwag and Vaude rely on socially responsible and environmentally friendly terracare® performance leather.
Wool is a natural fibre derived from the hair of various animal species and has been used by humans for thousands of years. The most common species whose wool is used to make clothing, carpets or blankets are sheep, goats, alpacas and llamas. Because of its natural structure, wool is usually very soft and comfortable against the skin, but at the same time very strong and durable. Wool is also an excellent insulator, retaining body heat and keeping you warm even at low temperatures. Its breathability means that excess moisture is wicked away from the body, creating a more comfortable climate.
There are several processes involved in the production of wool, from the shearing of the animals to the processing of the fibres into yarn and the manufacture of the finished products. The quality of the wool depends on a number of factors, such as the type of animal the wool comes from, the way it is sheared and the way the fibres are treated and processed.
Merino wool is often used for sports and outdoor activities. Merino wool comes from the Merino sheep, one of the oldest and most resilient breeds of sheep in the world. Due to their origin and the nature of their fleece, Merino sheep can withstand extreme temperature changes. Their wool is odour resistant and has UV protection. It regulates temperature, moisture and warmth depending on the thickness of the wool. Merino wool is also a natural, renewable resource and biodegradable. You can find it in jackets, vests, jumpers & shirts, trousers, dresses & skirts, functional underwear, gloves, socks or hats.
yarn is often used in clothing because of its many positive properties,
particularly for outdoor sports. The starting material for so-called
"virgin polyester" is crude oil - but many manufacturers now rely on
recycled polyester yarn (PES) from used PET bottles. The old bottles are
collected, cleaned, ground into small pellets and then processed into yarn. The
benefits are obvious: a lot of energy and emissions are saved on
petroleum-based materials that are already in the cycle. The ecological
footprint of new outdoor products made from recycled polyester yarn is
correspondingly smaller - a sensible alternative to products made from virgin
Elastane is a petroleum-based synthetic fibre used in the textile industry under various (brand) names. The most common names are Lycra, Spandex and Dorlastan. This man-made fibre is often used in fibre blends because of its elastic yet very strong properties. Fibre blends contain different amounts of elastane depending on the intended use. Elastane allows garments and accessories, such as socks, to adapt to the shape of the body, ensuring a good fit. Because of its elasticity and good recovery, elastane is mainly used in swimwear and neoprene suits, i.e. garments that need to be very stretchy. The main component of spandex is polyurethane, which is made from non-renewable oil. For this reason, and because it is difficult to recycle, elastane has a poor environmental record.
The chemical fibre nylon was first produced in the USA in 1935. It is a polyamide that is drawn through spinnerets. Nylon is used in the sports industry because of its many positive properties. Its main characteristics are extreme tear resistance, durability and light weight. Nylon is also easy to clean. The material is used, for example, as the tough outer layer of hard shells or in backpacks. It is also added to fibre blends to make products such as socks more durable. The synthetic fibre is made from petroleum, a non-renewable resource. The production of nylon is also resource intensive and causes high greenhouse gas emissions.
The outdoor and fashion industries are working to increase the use of recycled nylon. The Italian brand Aquafil has been producing the recycled fibre ECONYL® from textile production and post-consumer waste since 20122. ECONYL® has the same positive properties as conventional nylon, but can be recycled several times.
Everyone knows them: the little logos that are supposed to make shopping fairer, greener and less polluting. They usually indicate whether certain environmental standards have been met in the extraction and production of raw materials, animal welfare and fair working conditions. Consumers are also increasingly concerned about toxic chemicals, both in the production process and in the finished product.
Outdoor sports enthusiasts in particular are often concerned about the environmental impact of the products they use. Everyone involved is aware that the production and use of sports textiles, accessories and hard goods is a balancing act between functionality, performance, durability and environmental protection. The market is changing and manufacturers are looking for more sustainable alternatives.
Labels, standards and certifications can act as indicators and provide guidance. That's why we've compiled a list of the most important ones. The list is not exhaustive and not all labels are fully explained. If you want to find out more, there are links to the relevant certificates at the end of the text.
Image © GOTS.
Labels, certificates & standards briefly explained
The Blauer Engel label is awarded to products that have been manufactured in accordance with the highest environmental standards and without harmful chemicals - while at the same time being of high usability and quality. Products are assessed on the basis of their entire life cycle, including disposal and recycling. The certificate is backed by the German Environment Ministry. An independent jury decides on the award criteria.
The bluesign® certificate is one of the most stringent sustainability labels in the textile industry, especially in the field of sportswear. The label excludes environmentally harmful substances in the production process from the outset. Products bearing the label therefore meet the highest consumer protection requirements. Based on a holistic approach, bluesign® follows the path of each individual textile product through its production process and makes improvements at every stage - from production to the final product. The label is awarded to products that are at least 90 % manufactured in certified factories. The owner of the label is Bluesign Technologies AG, based in Switzerland.
Certified B Corp
non-profit organization B Lab awards the B-Corporation certification. The B in
the designation stands for "beneficial" - the certification aims to
highlight companies that meet defined standards in the areas of transparency,
responsibility and sustainability. It is also important for the certification
that the company makes a social contribution. The areas of corporate
management, employees, society, environment, products and services of a company
are evaluated. The certification is renewed every three years. This ensures
that the standards are continuously adhered to. B Corps stand for an inclusive,
just and regenerative economy. Certified B Corporations include brands such as Patagonia, BUFF, MPowerd, Burton,
The Dutch non-profit organization Fair Wear Foundation (FWF) is committed to fair working conditions in textile production. The FWF regularly reviews, evaluates and reports publicly on the progress of its member companies. Audits, i.e. operational controls, are an integral part of the monitoring system. In addition, the FWF also examines the business practices of the companies and their influence on the working conditions in the production facilities.
The Fairtrade label was first awarded to coffee in the Netherlands in 1988. Initially, the seal in the food industry stood for fair payment for farmers in the producing countries. In 2005, the textile raw material cotton was integrated into the Fairtrade program for the first time. In addition to the Fairtrade cotton seal, the Fairtrade textile standard seal and the Fairtrade cotton program stand for fair raw material purchasing and working conditions - child labor is prohibited. The switch to organic farming is also promoted.
FSC® stands for Forest Stewardship Council® and is an international certification system for sustainable and responsible forest management. FSC® certified materials, such as wood or paper, must be traceable at all stages of processing to the finished product.
The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) sets strict requirements for organic textiles made from natural fibres. The label assesses the entire production process, from raw material production through the supply chain to the finished product. Both environmental and social aspects are taken into account.
The Global Recycled Standard (GRS) aims to measure and
increase the amount of recycled material in products and to track the entire
production chain. Companies working with the standard must be able to
demonstrate that the product contains at least 20% recycled material. Once the
GRS logo appears on a product, the recycled content must be at least 50%.
The label Grüner Knopf is a government label for sustainably produced textiles. It is awarded to products from companies that produce in a holistic, ecological and fair way. The seal is based on 46 criteria and is intended to make it easier for consumers in Germany to make informed choices and to help them find their way through the jungle of seals.
The HIGG Index is a sustainability and corporate responsibility assessment tool. The HIGG Index was launched in 2012 by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), a non-profit organisation made up of fashion brands, fashion retailers, manufacturers, universities, NGOs and government organisations. The HIGG Index's five levels of analysis evaluate the entire lifecycle of a product, enabling companies to operate in a more sustainable and socially responsible manner.
Made in Green by OEKO-TEX®
Made in Green by Oeko-Tex® is a traceable product label for all types of textiles (e.g. clothing and home textiles) and leather articles at all stages (e.g. clothing, finished and semi-finished leather), including the materials used for accessories. A "Made in Green" product label certifies that the product has been tested for harmful substances and is therefore harmless.
OEKO-TEX Standard 100
The OEKO-TEX Standard 100 label is one of the oldest and best known eco-labels in Germany. The focus is not on the manufacture of products, but on testing for harmful substances in the finished product. Individual components such as threads, buttons and other ingredients are also tested. The test procedure excludes many regulated and non-regulated substances that could be harmful to health and often goes beyond national and international requirements.
The Responsible Down Standard sets standards to ensure that ducks and geese are kept in accordance with certain animal welfare criteria. The RDS was initiated by The North Face brand in collaboration with the non-governmental organisation Textile Exchange and the certification body Control Union Certifications. Launched in 2013, the down standard is the most widely used in the apparel industry to date. It bans live plucking and force-feeding, and requires cruelty-free conditions. The label only addresses animal welfare aspects and does not allow any statements about possible environmental or social problems.
The NGO Textile Exchange's Responsible Wool Standard aims to improve animal welfare and land management. This includes criteria such as a ban on animal cruelty and mulesing. It also regulates the provision of feed, clean drinking water and treatment in the event of illness. In addition, the standard ensures greater biodiversity on the animals' pastures and restricts the use of fertilisers and pesticides. The RWS wool label is only awarded to products whose entire supply chain is certified by Textile Exchange.https://textileexchange.org/responsible-wool-standard/
WIR DENKEN UM
Sport Conrad also wants to be environmentally and socially responsible and reduce the impact of the products we sell on the environment and people.
To give our customers a better overview, we have developed our WIRDENKEN UM label, which identifies both particularly sustainable and environmentally friendly products and responsible brands. The WDU label is designed to help you make better purchasing decisions.
WIR DENKEN UM – that is not only our sustainability strategy, but also our 'green' label. The WDU label is awarded to products that have been produced in a responsible manner. The evaluation process includes several criteria in the areas of responsibility and fairness, environment and climate, and transparency and reporting. These criteria assess how responsibly the company operates. In addition, there are product-related attributes that show how sustainable and fair the products are.
To qualify as a WDU brand in our range, manufacturers must meet a number of criteria in both areas. In total, approximately 120 of the 350 brands in our range meet our WDU criteria and have been awarded the WDU label. See above for an explanation of each product-related WDU attribute. You can read more about our requirements for brands and products in this blog post.
Why WDU? In 2018, we set out to fulfil our corporate responsibility. With the WDU sustainability initiative, we have set ourselves the goal of becoming the most sustainable retailer of alpine products in the Alps. We are starting at every possible point in the company: paper consumption in offices and stores, energy consumption through office and shop window lighting, employee mobility and, of course, the products we sell.
By 2025, we aim to have 70 per cent of our textile range and 40 per cent of our hardware range made from sustainable products. By 2023, 90% of textiles and 70% of hardware should be sustainable. The WDU label is designed to make it easier to choose environmentally and socially responsible products.
At Sport Conrad you will find products made from cotton that has been grown sustainably, i.e. without the use of artificial fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides or fungicides, and in compliance with social standards. Seals such as the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) or CmiA Cotton made in Africa are proof of compliance with these standards.
Bio-based fibres (also called regenerated fibres) are made from renewable raw materials such as wood. The best known are the "synthetic natural fibres" viscose, lyocell, modal and cupro. These are liquefied using solvents, pressed through spinnerets and then regenerated into cellulose fibres. Most regenerated fibres are not only bio-based but also biodegradable. Bio-based fibres such as Lyocell and Modal are very suitable for functional textiles such as base layers due to their quick drying and temperature regulating properties, but are also used in other outdoor products such as sleeping bags.
Corn, wood, sugar beet, dandelion or spider silk - the raw materials for biomaterials are as diverse as their uses. Manufacturers use bio-based components, for example, in the resins used to make skis and snowboards, or in helmets and goggles.
At Sport Conrad, we place great emphasis on regional or EU manufacturing - partly because social standards are more likely to be met, and partly because shorter transport routes mean fewer emissions. Some of our partners have their own production facilities in Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic or Bulgaria.
At Sport Conrad, "fair leather" is used as a synonym for "leather from animal welfare". Leather products are labelled if they have been produced in accordance with animal welfare criteria and are demonstrably environmentally friendly. Vegetable-tanned leather is also covered by this label. A manufacturer's own seal (such as Meindl Identity) or an independent seal (such as terracare®) certifies compliance with the standards.
"Fair down" is used at Sport Conrad as a synonym for "down from animal welfare". Animal welfare criteria are met in the production of the down, i.e. fair down is produced ethically and without animal suffering - live plucking or force-feeding, for example, are ethically unacceptable. Independent seals (e.g. Responsible Down Standard RDS) confirm compliance with the standards.
"Sport Conrad uses the term "Fair Wool" to refer to wool which is produced in a humane way. The wool is sourced according to animal welfare criteria, i.e. Fair Wool is sourced ethically, without mulesing and without animal suffering. Producer labels (e.g. Alpine Wool, Ortovox Wool Promise, Icebreaker Merino) or independent labels (e.g. Responsible Wool Standard RWS) prove compliance.
More and more companies are offsetting their corporate or product carbon footprint, i.e. after calculating the carbon footprint, the unavoidable CO2 emissions are offset by purchasing climate protection certificates. Although the term "carbon neutral" is used, this does not mean that these products do not cause CO2 emissions, but that the emissions are neutralised by offsetting. Offsetting is offered by providers such as ClimatePartner, MyClimate, Focus Future, etc.
Sport Conrad uses this term to identify products that can be broken down into their component parts after use and thus remain in the material cycle. A circular economy is a consumption or production model in which products are shared, leased, reused, repaired and recycled. Circular products therefore follow a circular model that extends their life cycle and allows them to be reused or recycled at the end of their life.
Renewable raw materials
By definition, renewable resources are agricultural and forestry products that are not used as food or feed, but are used as a material or to generate heat, electricity or fuel. Sport Conrad uses the term "renewable raw materials" to include products made from animal and vegetable fibres (such as wool, cotton, hemp, flax, wood, etc.) and bio-based plastics such as Lyocell/Tencel.
At Sport Conrad, we consider recycled components to be those that make up less than 50% of the product. We only use this label for hard goods such as skis or snowboards.
Recycling is playing an increasingly important role in the manufacture of outdoor clothing and hardware. To keep track of this, Sport Conrad labels products that are mainly made from recycled materials. Many outdoor manufacturers use fully or partially recycled materials - for example, recycled down from old bedding or clothing. Recycled nylon, polyester from recycled plastic bottles or recycled wool are also used.
Service & repair
Worn parts and minor damage can usually be easily repaired. Manufacturers of products marked "Service & Repair" offer to repair gloves and equipment or replace individual poles. Please contact our customer service or the manufacturer directly.
Vegan products are completely free of animal ingredients. Products labelled 100% vegan are made without the use of animal ingredients (such as leather, down, wool or beeswax).
Soles are consumables that tend to wear out faster than the rest of the shoe. High-quality hiking, trekking and climbing shoes can usually be fitted with a new sole - and thus be worn for much longer. If a shoe is declared resoleable, it can be resoled by a specialist shoemaker or directly by the brand.