wearing libre sweater

Okay, here’s a sweater that might make you yearn for the great outdoors. There’s just something about the clean, classic design, and the fact that it’s made from cuddly llama wool, that makes us want to head for the hills.

The Libre sweater is the work of Cotopaxi, a company committed to fighting poverty around the world by creating positive social impact. Cotopaxi gives targeted grants to projects working on health, education and initiatives to improve people’s livelihoods. (We’ve already shown you its Boma backpack.)

The fashion folks at Cotopaxi say the sweater “is our answer to the garment that doesn’t exist any more — a beautiful, rugged knit engineered to be put through the wringer, day after day. It keeps you comfortable, invites you to push yourself and maintains that classic, heritage-inspired look, wherever you happen to roam.” Yeah, what they said.

CEO Davis Smith says he fell in love with Bolivia and its generous people when he lived there in the 1990s. In fact, he borrowed the native llama for Cotopaxi’s logo. For years the company has been mulling over ways to source the local llama wool and create employment in Bolivia, and the Libre sweater does just that.

The Libre is perfect for climbing, biking and hiking — well, any outdoor sports, really — since llama wool is naturally insulating. And you won’t get too hot when you’re leaping or climbing since there’s a “buttery-soft, midweight llama knit for year-round wear” on the raglan arms and front panel and a breathable mesh panel on the back that lets extra body heat and moisture out to keep you comfortable.

mountain climber libre sweater

hiker in libre sweater

jumping in libre sweater

The designers expect their customers to put the unisex sweater through its paces and constructed it to handle the challenge. Reinforced seams stand up to rigorous movement and stretching, and firm ribbing around the hem, cuffs and collar makes sagging and overstretching a thing of the past, they say.

“Why llama wool?” you may be asking. The answer is several-fold. Llamas live in the high plains region of Bolivia, where crazy swings in temperature are commonplace. “Their hollow hair serves as the perfect form of natural insulation,” the Cotopaxi team explain. “It’s proven to effectively trap warm air, insulate when wet, create a natural wind block, in addition to being naturally hypoallergenic, elastic, strong and soft to the touch.” All perfect attributes for active outdoor apparel.

The company partners with farmers in the Andes to obtain the wool, and the trade is an important source of income for local families. Basically it’s a win-win-win for Cotopaxi, the llama herders and the environment, as it’s a low-impact endeavor as well.

bolivian llama herder

“Members of our team regularly visit suppliers to ensure that we’re creating a lasting, positive impact on communities in the region by responsibly sourcing the fiber that goes into our products,” the company says. It puts its money where its mouth is, too, making sure its Bolivian workers receive fair pay, overtime, benefits, paid vacation days and enjoy comfortable working conditions, all while using eco-friendly production methods.

Cotopaxi finally makes this promise to its customers: “All our products are Guaranteed for Good. Your product is guaranteed to last 61 years, the average lifespan of a person living in the developing world.”