How We Walk the Walk, Every Day

From our humble beginnings, in Dick and Nena Kelty’s Southern California kitchen, it has been our mission to make the Great Outdoors more accessible for everyone. We *LOVE* nature newbies, because few things are more wonderful than watching somebody experience their first night under the stars, or their first wilderness sunrise. We all remember our first time camping, and we want to make sure yours is memorable, too…for the right reasons. 

Of course, first-time campers have a lot to learn, and it’s a privilege to share our knowledge! But we wouldn’t be doing justice to our role as wilderness ambassadors if we didn’t stress the importance of environmentally responsible camping. We know that getting people into the wilderness will always have an impact; our goal is to make it as small as possible. Here’s a quick round-up of how Kelty is walking the walk—in the office, in the wild and around the world.

In the Office: Responsible Choices

DOWN: As a founding father of the U.S. outdoor industry, Kelty is dedicated to leading by example. That’s why all of our sleeping bags and down blankets are responsibly constructed with PFC-free and 100% ethically sourced down. It’s such a common material in our world that it can be easy to forget that down is an organic material that comes from geese or ducks! Do YOU want to cross a goose? We do not. 

So, in order to support a healthier planet, we happily source all of our natural insulation from Allied Feather + Down, an RDS (Responsible Down Standard) certified supplier. Our down can be tracked via Allied Feather + Down’s Track My Down program. To track your own fluffy stuff, locate the “down lot” number on your product and click the link above.

CHEMICALS: Our down, along with the fabrics we use to construct our products, is also free of harmful coatings. Perfluorinated chemicals, or PFCs, are the chemicals that help outdoor gear repel water. And, even though they’re used throughout the outdoor industry to make tents, packs, sleeping bags and rain jackets water resistant, scientific studies have shown them to have an exceptionally long half-life—which means these nasty little buggers can accumulate in the environment, potentially causing serious harm to MANY living things. 

How? According to reports from the Environmental Protection Agency, PFC groundwater contamination is problematic in 33 states—including some of our favorite places to recreate. It’s been found at the bottom of the ocean, and in the blood of polar bears. In humans, these chemicals have been found to cause a variety of serious health problems, including liver toxicity, hypothyroidism, ulcerative colitis, neurobehavioral issues, cancer and other tumors. In short, PFCs are really bad, and we don’t use them. We avoid them, and you should, too. 

In the Wild: Leave No Trace

As much as we love people, we’ve got to admit that they can be…careless. Very. So, part of Kelty’s mission has always been to educate nature newbies about the basics of the Leave No Trace philosophy. In short, LNT is a set of simple principles to guide your time in the outdoors, ensuring that the wilderness you leave behind is in the same (or better!) shape it was when you arrived. Even if you’re familiar with the general concepts involved, we recommend spending some time on the site linked above. There’s actually a surprising amount you can do to reduce your environmental impact, and the agency is continually updating the content. 

And, speaking of walking the walk, we recently noticed a bit of a gap in our product offering—and wanted to make the most important of the LNT principles, trash removal, as easy as possible for our customers. Enter the Trash Pak: the vehicle-mounted accessory that makes everyone Captain Planet! Capable of hauling a weekend’s worth of waste and recycling, Trash Pak mounts easily to most cars and is built to withstand intense sun, rain or wind. Use it to haul firewood, manage waste around camp…and pack it all out when the fun is done.

Around the World: Green Leadership

Lots of companies make claims around their vague “sustainability initiatives”—and every little bit helps, even if you’re just installing Energy Star appliances in the communal kitchen, or choosing recycled paper for the office copier. No effort, as far as we’re concerned, is too small! But here at Kelty, a brand wholly dedicated to helping humans enjoy nature, we are naturally invested in making sure that nature remains protected and pristine for generations to come.

It was precisely this goal that led Kelty to co-found the Conservation Alliance (with fellow green gearheads REI, Patagonia and The North Face) in 1989. As industry leaders, our then and now was to increase outdoor industry support for conservation. As part of this mission, the four partners work to engage businesses to fund and partner with organizations to protect wild places—both for their value as essential and irreplaceable wildlife habitat, and as places in which humans can connect to the wilderness within. 

We now have more than 250 member companies, and habitually disburse about $2 million annually. Since its founding, the Alliance has contributed more than $23 million to grassroots conservation groups throughout North America. And the results of our efforts have been truly remarkable! Together, Alliance members and partner organizations have helped to save more than 73 million acres of wildlands; protect 3,575 miles of rivers; stop or remove 35 dams; designate five marine reserves; and purchase 17 protected climbing areas. 


Stay tuned for more beginning backpacker tips, with awesome beginner camping gear to get you out there in style—and be sure to follow @keltybuilt for all kinds of cool camp content. And hey, pick up your trash, ya filthy animal!