Gear Review: GoLite brings Style, Sustainability and a new Spring line. [Men's] ~ via Henry Schliff.

Via on Jan 28, 2009

It’s time to get your gear groove on in style and efficiency with GoLite. The Boulder, Colorado based high-performance clothing company that is making major strides in inventiveness and sustainability.

Recently, I tested out several items for elephantjournal.com from GoLite’s 2009 Spring Line of men’s apparel.

First off, the name doesn’t even begin to describe how light this gear is. After ordering several items, a tiny package arrived at my door. I thought there had been a mix up—rather than four items, they’d just sent one. But I opened it up and out fell two shirts and two windbreaker jackets—each capable of being bunched up to wallet size or smaller. Perfect for all you camping, hiking, climbing and running enthusiasts—the stuff is barely there.

And, best of all, GoLite is taking the initiative to make sure their footprint is barely there.

The Product
According to GoLite’s website, they aim “to design and produce unique, technologically superior products that provide maximum performance for minimum weight.” So they skip the bells and whistles, and waste associated with producing superfluous apparel accessories. Luckily, they haven’t skipped style. This gear is bold and elegant in its simplicity—I feel good wearing it.

I put the DriMove (below) shirt and Wisp jacket (above) immediately to the test on a run up Boulder’s red rocks, Mt. Sanitas. A mild January day in the mid sixties with stiff wind proved a good testing ground—by the time I summitted Sanitas, the temperature had dropped five to ten degrees and I was sweating hard.

Positive Attributes: DriMove, Wisp, Ether Jacket
After being put to the sweat test, the DriMove shirt wicked most of the moisture away and the Wisp jacket did not become the least bit uncomfortable (no stickiness) and kept the chill to a minimum. Both were so light I easily forgot I was wearing anything above the waist (DriMove will serve me well at the climbing gym, where you don’t want clothing to get in the way). The material is light, breathable and flexible, providing a full range of movement and comfort. And unlike many long-sleeves, the fabric is tenacious enough that there’s no chance of it breaking down and going loose in the arms for a long time.

A DriMove line ranges in lightness from 2-7oz. Perfect for any kind of athletic activity I can imagine at mild to cool temperatures or as a base layer in colder weather. I’ve used the short and long sleeve for layering and found them perfectly suited to give just the right amount of core insulation, for our balmy Boulder winter. Even better, DriMove is made with recycled products including Cocona, a fabric that “utilizes activated carbon from the inside of discarded coconut shell” and the Ether Jacket, a wicked light windbreaker, utilizes 88% recycled polyester (hooded version below).

GoLite: Practice & Philosophy
The company recently made public all their current initiatives including: undergoing comprehensive carbon footprint analysis through Five Winds International, fulfilling sustainable packaging processes (everything shipped is 100% recyclable) in accordance with OIA (Outdoor Industry Association’s), and becoming a certified B Corporation (companies certified for their efforts in environmental and social change). GoLite is also working on end-of-life innovations to try and reduce future waste. End-of-life meaning, repair, resale, donation, and recycling. GoLite headquarters has been made 100% carbon neutral through the use of Green-e renewable energy, energy efficient lighting, eco-office products including environmentally sustainable printing and packaging, and carbon offsets. But they haven’t stopped there, GoLite has set the ambitious goal of being 100% carbon neutral  (including their headquarters, factories, product, etc.) and zero-waste by 2010.

But, (and there’s always a ‘but’) look at the tag and like many other companies you will see ‘Made in China’ stenciled in. So I actually called up Kim Coupounas Co-founder and CEO of GoLite (who spoke with elephantjournal.com’s Waylon Lewis at Boulder’s recent Bioneers conference) and asked her: why China?

She explained that when manufacturing high-performance fabrics such as those worn by cyclists, runners, etc., there are few places that can produce these garments at an economical price and one of the primary countries for quality is China. Textile manufacture here in the States for such product is mostly tied up with the military and exorbitantly expensive. So the issue becomes one of the global marketplace and a shift of manufacturing priorities.

So perhaps it’s time to ask a question: do we want a competitive high-tech textile industry in this country, when clearly the demand exists? Amidst commiserating together as consumer and producer about the madness of having to ship product half way round the world (and back), Kim said to me “we are changing China.” That is to say, an ethical business model foreign or domestic directly affects the country it is instituted within. Through GoLite’s fair-labor practices across the board and across borders their company, along with other sister companies (like Patagonia, prAna…) maintain ethical labor regulations that have a positive global impact on the conditions of workers and the welfare of the planet.

Where to GoLite & The Final Word
For fellow Boulder locals, you can find GoLite product at Outdoor Divas, Boulder Running Co., Top Sleeping Bags, and Randall Scott Cycle Co. For everyone else, check them out at GoLite.com, which has a list of retailers like REI where you can find ‘em.

I’d barely heard of this company before writing this review—as an environmentally-conscious consumer, I am rarely one to buy clothes brand new. But when I do, GoLite will be on my list of companies to look to—for their Fair Labor practices, for striving to protect our environment, and for the quality of their product. So for all you gearheads and outdoor junkies, if you got somewhere to go, GoLite!

About Henry Schliff

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17 Responses to “Gear Review: GoLite brings Style, Sustainability and a new Spring line. [Men's] ~ via Henry Schliff.”

  1. rusty says:

    great review henry… thanks for putting the work in for us! i love golite… great products and a great company. i’ve heard patagonia give the same explanation about china… so, glad someone else has the same reasoning, but i’m hopeful some of that business will be moved to the states.

  2. Yah, how is it Green to ship stuff back and forth halfway across the world to a place that censors google search results for “elephant journal,” “independence,” “freedom,” “Dalai Lama”…it’s a (sad) joke.

    That said, the US is horrible on human rights, lately, and this is not an ideal world—we work with the world we have and none of our readers would buy a jacket made in the US for 3x the cost, which is I guess where the economics are at right now, manufacturing-wise. GoLite, Eileen Fisher, Patagonia and others who strictly supervise their manufacturing and the like are farrrrr ahead of the pack.

    So we as conscious consumers support the best option available to us…there are local options, I just bought a Pendleton sweater today, Made in USA.

  3. Matt says:

    I’m impressed with how transparent their efforts to lessen their enviro impact are. A lot of companies environmental responsibility efforts these days seem to be to simply come up with a catchy way to use the word eco in the name.

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  5. Amen, Embrey. It’s all about doing our best, bit by bit…and being honest. Nothing worse than greenwashing…defeats the whole point and lessens credibility of all cos that are trying to do right by the earth.

    Now link to this review, love your site Matt!

  6. [...] Made-in-USA garb, but from the sound of things (confirmed by elephantjournal.com recent reviews of Golite and Patagonia), we’ve long been surpassed in skill and technology by foreign factories. As a [...]

  7. michelle says:

    henry – i enjoyed the review and am always happy to hear of such innovative initiatives, performance clothing and otherwise. finding performance wear that manages to meet and exceed the essential elements of being durable, lightweight, enjoyable & comfortable is worth spreading the word about… bonus for green efforts too. i’ll be passing this tip along… thanks for trying it out and sharing your take!

  8. Tom says:

    Thanks for the review. The made in China may be a down side but a company still needs to be profitable, sometimes you have to take the good with the bad .

  9. Dina DuBois says:

    I love the barely there line.The reflective style of the review made the voice of the author present. MAde me decide if I bought outdoor stuff I'd go to Go Lite. I'll email the review to my brother in law who works at LLBean. He's informed about this kind of gear.

    I'm still into wool. Can you imagine?

  10. tom weathers says:

    Good stuff Henry. Looks equally suited to urban, suburban, exurban and no urban environments.

  11. Bruce Marshall says:

    “how light this gear is”—

    I don’t respect anything that couldn’t bite me.

  12. Margaret Marshall says:

    An excellent review of these garments. Your style of review writing matches the garments: does the job completely, but is still concise and clear (light).

    The idea of recycling polyester delights me, so long as I don’t have to wear it.

    .

  13. Terri Lynn West says:

    Dear Henry, I have enjoyed many of your blogs and this one is very timely. Time being of the essence it is extremely important that the two most important countries that have a profound effect on climate change cooperate in ways to reduce carbon emmisions. Hands off to Golite and your mindful review. Keep up the good work!

  14. [...] wrote a review not long ago for the Elephant Journal on sustainable products. But what is sustainable these days, [...]

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  16. I'll have to come back again when my class load lets up – however I'm taking your RSS feed so I can examine your site offline. Thanks.

  17. A quality article. I posted a plug for your website at mine. So, I think most people forget the point you are making.

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