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Essential Gear

Sustainable Sorona®: Performance and Softness

September 1, 2016
Maize field, low angle view

Sustainability is a major focus for us here at Royal Robbins – earlier this week we discussed our partnership with bluesign® Technologies and our commitment to reducing the environmental impacts of textile manufacturing. We also talked about the first sustainability story in the outdoor industry – Nutcracker and the clean climbing revolution.

Today, let’s talk about our new favorite fiber – soft, durable Sorona®.


Sustainable? Yup

Sorona® is an eco-conscious, corn-based biopolymer that reduces energy consumption by 30-40% and greenhouse gas emissions by 55-60% compared to nylon production.

Performance? Oh yeah

Sorona® adds both softness and strength when it’s blended with other fibers. That’s why we love blending it with polyester and Merino wool, which can sometimes be a bit itchy or wear out easily. Sorona® has the inherent ability to heighten the performance aspects of the other fibers, and it dries very quickly.

Clothing with Sorona® feels better, performs better, and is better for the environment.

Royal_Robbins Diablo sorona blog

The Diablo – hot weather performance with Sorona®


Sustainability during Production

Sorona® fibers are created by combining several monomers, starting with a corn-based monomer called Bio-PDO, which was developed by scientists over an intensive 10-year period.

Sorona® contains 37% annually renewable plant-based ingredients by weight. Sorona® polymer production uses 30% less non-renewable energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 63% compared to the production of an equal amount of nylon 6.

Why is Sorona® production so much more sustainable than nylon?

  • In the factory, Sorona® fiber extrusion occurs at lower temperatures than other synthetic fibers.
  • Sorona® dyes at the boiling point of water with no additional heat, pressure, or chemical carriers.
  • No catalysts containing any heavy metals are used in the polymerization of Sorona®, and no additional chemical treatments for stain resistance are required, a benefit for manufacturers.

Story of Sorona

Sustainability at the Consumer Level

Not only does Sorona® have a lower environmental impact during production but its performance properties reduce energy use during the garment’s life cycle.

  • Easy to wash in cold water – less energy use than hot water
  • Dries extremely quick so it spends less time in the dryer
  • Longevity to buy less stuff – Sorona® offers fade resistance, wrinkle release, and durability, all of which help contribute to the end-to-end sustainability story (and make fantastic travel clothing)
Royal Robbins Merino Men's Shirts

MerinoLux: Tech meets Soft with Sorona®


Royal Robbins and Sorona®

Two of our favorite product collections this spring feature Sorona® as the core ingredient – Diablo and MerinoLux.Diablo 1 for Zappo's

The Diablo collection, focusing on men’s shirts and women’s shirts, is designed to provide superior ventilation and performance on your hottest active day, whether it’s a hot, dry hike in the mountains or a humid day on water fishing.

We’ve blended traditional polyester with eco-conscious Sorona® to create a highly breathable fabric with strong moisture wicking and quick drying properties, and then further enhanced it with targeted perforations for extreme ventilation.

The sustainable Sorona® fibers give this fabric a soft hand, durability and a hint of stretch, making it ideal for outdoor adventure and active travel with its refined silhouettes.

MerinoLux for Zappo'sThe MerinoLux collection blends Sorona® with Merino wool to make a softer, stronger Merino baselayer (definitely de-Lux). No more itching, better shape retention, and the same temperature and moisture control that you want from Merino. It’s outdoor adventure gear, only better.

We’re thrilled about Sorona®, and we’re thrilled about the products we’ve created. Discover some new favorites for your next outdoor adventure here.



Find out more about sustainable Sorona® here.

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  • Reply Sam April 24, 2016 at 11:49 pm

    You write that Sorona is a 37% plant-based fiber – what is the rest? Still made from petrochemicals? Also, won’t this be made from GMO corn, heavily dependent on pesticides? It seems like a great idea, but if you look deeper, might not be worth supporting. To make matters worse, DuPont is owned by the Koch Brothers.
    I hope you won’t delete this critical comment but give me your take on the matter. Thank you!

    • Reply Stephen Sherrill April 26, 2016 at 5:40 pm

      Sam – your questions are the same ones we ask every day! The reason that we are so excited about Sorona is that it represents a step forward. By no means is this a perfect fiber, but it is better than many alternatives. We are constantly reviewing our supply chain and looking for more sustainable ways to make high performing clothes that are durable and long lasting. Our partnership with bluesign is very important in this respect. We will continue to update you and all of our friends on our progress. It is very important to us to hear your comments (and your suggestions, seriously these are very helpful). Keep them coming! – Stephen Sherrill

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