What intrigued me the most about researching this pack was the timeline of the efforts behind it. If I had researched Osprey’s packs even a year ago today, I would have written an entirely different review. However, I am happy today to be presenting a company that is clearly making steps toward sustainability at a fast pace, and it proves that even those who have been in the industry for a long time have the ability to make significant change. As each opportunity for sustainable production has been taken, from utilization of recycled materials, to incorporation of renewable energy, to the brand’s iconic All-Mighty guarantee, it is clear that Osprey is true in its intentions to become a leader in sustainability for the outdoors industry. Though there are some aspects of the company and products being sold that are still representative of past habits, there are clear efforts to begin to cycle out these less sustainable processes. The Archeon 30 is an embodiment of these efforts, and I highly recommend it and the accompanying items in newest lines of Osprey’s brand if you’re looking for a new pack for your next adventure. I am looking forward to seeing where this company goes within the next couple years and beyond as they continue to take advantage of increased outlets of sustainability.
As one of their pillars of sustainability, Osprey prioritizes its materials when crafting the Archeon pack. Starting with their Spring 2020 collection, the company implements recycled materials that follow the Global Recycled Standard (GRS) to reduce carbon emissions by 40-45%. Additionally, Osprey crafts their packs with Bluesign-approved fabrics, a label that is given to products that meet a strict set of ecological and toxicological requirements. They even consider chemistry when designing their packs, and by 2022 plan to have all products free of long-chain perflourinated chemicals (PFCs), a series of chemicals that accumulate within ecosystems and cause significant harm to their food chains and living organisms. The only suggestion I have for Osprey as far as materials go is transparency regarding how much of the actual material in each pack meets these standards. Currently, the company says that it incorporates these sustainable materials rather than giving percents on how much the packs are actually composed of. “Incorporating” could mean only about 10% of the pack, and the remaining 90% may still be made of non-recyclable, unsustainable materials. Clarification in this sense would boost the company’s moral regarding its material use and its overall sustainability. With this in mind, a customer can freely roam the trails with an Archeon on their back without worrying about where its materials may have come from.
Osprey’s dedication to sustainability is seen through myriad aspects of their production process. Every pack made by Osprey is backed by its All-Mighty guarantee, a concept unique to the brand. The guarantee ensures that customers can get the most out of their packs by providing free repairs throughout the lifetime of their products. Whether it’s a busted zipper from stuffing one too many jackets or a tear after the brush of a tree branch, Osprey ensures that consumers can repair their packs free of charge. By incorporating this method, the brand is able to extend the lifetime of their products and slow down the cycle of production and material use. It encourages customers to keep their Osprey packs for years rather than give in to trends of fast production and consumption that has the biggest impact on our planet.
As far as facilities go, Osprey is headquartered in Cortez, Colorado with a distribution center in Ogden, Utah. Both facilities rely on renewable energy to operate, which significantly decreases their impact on the environment. The connection between the two centers, as well as the close proximity to the national rail network, also allows for distribution to have less of a carbon footprint within the United States. However, with the main manufacturing occurring overseas in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, the company still has a significant footprint through international shipping, which they can continue to work on leading into the future.
As of June 2020, the company also launched its Renewal Workshop, which is dedicated to giving old packs new life. The workshop fixes old products and resells them rather than sending them to a landfill, which significantly decreases their waste. This method is one that resonated with me most significantly, for I see it as a win-win for both consumers and the planet. The website sells the refurbished products at cheaper prices to consumers while still maintaining a high standard of sustainability. This method is one that goes above-and-beyond, and truly demonstrates Osprey’s commitment to both sustainability and its customers.
Osprey is one of the best-selling outdoors brands, with a history dating back to 1974 with founder Mike Pfotenhauer, who has since continued to own and oversee its designs. The Colorado-based company grew prior to the focus on sustainability that took the world by storm in the 21st century, and some of its past habits reflected this time with the use of less-sustainable materials and production. However, starting with their Spring 2020 launch, the company has emphasized its goals to become one of the leading brands in terms of sustainability as more methods have become available for them to do so. Current Senior Product Line Director, Mark Galbraith, first announced his plans to back up the sustainability seen with its All-Mighty Guarantee in 2019. He highlighted the importance of expanding the brands sustainability initiatives beyond just its durability and lifetime guarantee through creating a comprehensive plan with three distinct pillars: materials, chemistry, and social responsibility. Since then, the company has committed to this holistic approach and made changes to meet goals and focus on these pillars.
The pillar of social responsibility is shown through Osprey’s production and how they treat their workers. Their factory is based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and follows strict codes of conduct and treatment based on the Ethical Trade Initiative. This initiative ensures that workers are given an appropriate minimum wage, maximum hours in a work week, health and safety guidelines, and the right to unionize. Though I would have liked to find more specific information on these initiatives, such as these exact hours and minimum wage, in order to gather more of an idea of how ethical they truly are, there are other experts that back their claims of ethical practices. For example, the factories are audited regularly through the Worldwide Ethic Alliance in order to ensure they are meeting ethical guidelines and codes. There is also a headquarters for the company based in Ho Chi Minh City to ensure a direct face-to-face connection between manufacturer and the company’s leaders.