If you don’t compromise on your workouts, why should you compromise on your gear? It seems like a contradiction to pursue fitness, whether for health or pleasure, while simultaneously harming workers, animals and the environment. Imagine if, like a comic book villain, you were draining the life-force of factory workers, animals and ecosystems so you could get stronger! That’s sort of what happens with many athletic companies today. It isn’t that they’re sinister so much as they’re negligent in this massive, global, fashion industrial production complex. There is no silver-bullet; no zero-impact workout gear, but many companies are striving towards ideal standards. When it comes to my own Crossfit regimen, I had trouble finding companies whose business ethics matched their products’ performance. Luckily, I found a few great brands I’ll share below.
It’s been difficult to find a high-quality lifting shoe that meets my stringent criteria: fair, sustainable and vegan. Many lifting shoes are either made with inefficient, toxic and cruel leather (a livestock product), while others are made in dangerous or exploitative factory conditions that go unmonitored. Inov8 has many vegan shoe options and an environmental auditing system in place to track their ecological footprint (no pun intended). In addition they clearly state their labor standards.
Base layers and running tights were hard to come by in anything but traditional poly. But Patagonia has a line is called Capilene® made from at least 35% recycled poly, and a line of bluesign®-approved content made in fair labor conditions.
If you’re looking for equipment made in the USA, Rogue has a line made in Ohio including jump ropes, barbells, and lifting straps. The Rogue SR-2 Ballistic Jump Rope and Ohio lifting straps. They are hand made in Ohio. Spud Inc had an insanely strong lifting belt made in the USA from woven nylon, and Massage Blocks offers a recyclable, self-massage solution made in the USA for those crazy knots you get after a few days of working out.