Sustainable Backpacks: 8 of the Best Brands

Sustainable backpacks are usually made with recycled materials, and those materials can, most of the time, contribute to a cleaner environment. Other features might include low-toxicity production and eco-friendly manufacturing techniques, which decrease the risk of pollution-related diseases being created or spread while they are being made. 

Sustainable backpacks also require fewer materials, and fewer trips to landfills often made using recycled products or reclaimed materials. It doesn’t break easily and will last through years of use. Plus, ethical brands are constantly looking for ways to make their products more durable and reliable enough to last you a lifetime! 

In this article, we talk about the travel bags that gained popularity amongst backpackers. Some of them are made of recycled materials by companies with sustainable practices. Other options are a bit more trendy, but they also help to contribute to keeping the earth green.

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Fair and Sustainable Backpack Standards

There are many backpacks available, but only a few are environmentally friendly. What are the standards for fair and sustainable backpacks? A backpack is considered sustainable if it possesses one or, at the least, the following some of these characteristics:

  • Manufactured using natural and sustainable materials.
  • Production that’s low in waste, high in efficiency, and low in CO2 emissions.
  • Good ergonomics and hence beneficial to the body posture.
  • Fair working and trade conditions.

More reasons to use sustainable backpacks

  • High-quality materials and processing result in strong durability.
  • Environment protection by pivoting away from the use of toxic adhesives and dyes.

How to Buy the Right Sustainable Backpack

When purchasing a sustainable backpack, you must ask yourself: What do I want to use the backpack for? To be worn as a casual everyday companion or as a sophisticated standout item for work? Should it be suitable for a brief holiday or a multi-day hiking expedition in the wilderness? Should it be ideal for both? Various backpacks cater to different needs.

Here’s a general overview of how much capacity you need for a specific scenario. 

School: A day backpack that can carry 20-40 liters fit a schooling scenario.

Gym: A backpack with 10 – 35 liters is best for carrying your sports equipment with better capacity at the gym. Can also be used for day trips.

Travel: A backpack with 80 liters is a good option for travelers. These traveler’s backpacks are more ergonomic than daypacks and are built for extended wearing times.

travelers backpacks

8 of the Most Ethical & Sustainable Backpack Brands

1. United By Blue

United By Blue is a Certified B Corporation that manufactures a diverse range of clothes and bags, including rucksacks, in GOTS-certified facilities.

Their backpacks are almost entirely constructed of recycled materials, including recycled plastic bottles and recycled nylon. There are a variety of additional straps for further support, and there is plenty of room within the backpacks for all of your things, such as a laptop or water bottle.

The brand also collects one pound of garbage from the ocean and waterways for every product purchased.

2. Fjällräven

Fjällräven is well-known for its Kanken backpack, but did you know they also make eco-friendly backpacks?

The company strictly prohibits using toxic chemicals and instead opts for materials like recycled wool, TENCEL, organic hemp, and recycled polyester.

Fjällräven is also a member of the Fair Labor Association and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition. They also call for carbon neutrality by 2025.

3. Bearmade

Bearmade handcrafts its tough, waterproof canvas backpacks using eco-friendly materials, including GOTS organic cotton and hemp.

These bags are intended to last, and each product comes with a lifetime guarantee.

4. Tropicfeel

Tropicfeel is a travel brand that has run numerous extremely successful Kickstarter projects for its travel products. Their latest product line is travel backpacks.

What’s more, they only work with suppliers that are Bluesign certified. They also incorporate recycled materials such as recycled spandex and regenerated nylon. They’ve also worked with Climate Neutral to offset 100% of their carbon emissions.

5. Patagonia

Patagonia doesn’t require much introduction. Patagonia backpacks are a great option if you want a sustainable bag that is also sturdy, strong, and stylish.

The bags are made from 100% recycled polyester and 100% recycled nylon, all of which are sourced from Bluesign-certified companies.

6. Terra Thread

Terra Thread keeps things simple: two backpack sizes in various colors suitable for school, work, and everyday usage.

Terra Thread was formed by a father and daughter team, and it is now a Certified B Corporation (under the parent company name, Gallant International). The company also partners with Feeding America to help provide meals to those in need, and it uses a variety of environmentally friendly materials in its products.

The cotton used to make these backpacks is organic and GOTS certified, and they are entirely carbon neutral since Terra Thread offsets all the emissions produced.

7. Lo & Sons

Lo & Sons is a family-owned Asian-American brand created by Helen Lo when she couldn’t locate any sustainable travel bags. She convinced her two boys to accompany her on the voyage, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Their bags feature a clean, straightforward design that doesn’t sacrifice practicality. Most of the bags have a padded laptop sleeve, various small and big compartments, and are waterproof.

8. Cotopaxi

Cotopaxi is a sustainable brand that creates vivid, one-of-a-kind, and long-lasting backpacks from environmentally responsible materials.

What makes them environmentally friendly? Cotopaxi uses surplus fabric from other firms’ production cycles. Then they make one-of-a-kind, high-performance backpacks out of them.

Cotopaxi is a Certified B Corp and is very upfront about which manufacturers they employ. They also publish the code of conduct they use to evaluate their factory partners so you can check whether it corresponds with your ethical brand values.

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Author’s Note

The Bearmade is the best backpack because it has a lifetime guarantee and is very cozy to use. The Tropicfeel is also a great backpack with several bags available. Patagonia is also an excellent option with organic materials used in its production and ethical practices in place. It’s worth looking out if you are considering traveling without luggage or if you want to be good to the environment by using sustainable products on your travels. 

school backpacks

The travel backpacks mentioned above are popular ethical travel backpacks on the market today. These backpacks are worth trying out, but some of them might not be ideal for you, so choose wisely based on your own needs and preferences!

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