The Best Sustainable Backpacks For Your Eco-Friendly Adventures 
7 min read · Last updated February 12, 2022
Backpacks are an essential item in pretty much everyone's closet. Whether you use them for toting your stuff to school, work, the gym, or up the nearest mountain, a backpack is a must-have accessory.
Never one to carry a handbag, my backpack gets a lot of use. In it, you can usually find my bullet journal, laptop and charger, a stash of tissues, masks, and bandaids, my water bottle, and whatever else I need for the day. It comes with me to all my client meetings and on every trip I go on. It frequents as a diaper bag, weekender bag, and a briefcase.
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Headquartered in Australia, Bellroy creates sustainable backpacks, wallets, and tech gear that provide durability and functionality. The earth-friendly materials they use for production are gold-rated leather, recycled polyester, Tencel, and recycled nylon. They use chemical-free packaging and energy-efficient processes. As a certified B corporation, Bellroy donates a part of its profits to animal welfare NGOs among other altruistic endeavors.
My favorite is the Classic Backpack Compact in Marineblue. Made of water-resistant Recycled Dura Nylon, and premium, eco-tanned leather, it holds a 13" laptop in it's designated padded laptop compartment. It makes a great everyday backpack.
Cotopaxi creates eco-friendly and earth-friendly backpacks and clothing for men and women in beautiful, fun colors. Their backpacks are durable, and they offer to replace or repair defective backpacks to discourage throwaways. Based in the Philippines, they use recycled material such as deadstock fabric to manufacture their backpacks and encourage waste reduction in the environment. Another certified B corporation, they give a portion of their profits to environmental causes.
Check out the Del Dia line for a unique backpack. Each bag in this line is created by an employee who has creative control over the colors used, so each back is unique! This suitcase-style backpack features a full-wrap zipper opening on the main compartment for easy access. It includes a padded laptop compartment, tablet sleeve, and a rain cover. The 42L capacity gives plenty of room to tote whatever you need on your next adventure.
Everlane creates backpacks, clothing, and accessories for professional men and women using recycled and non-toxic materials. Their timeless designs are built to last.
Everlane believes in radical transparency and audits all of their factories to evaluate factors like fair wages, reasonable hours, and environment. All of their Black Friday profits are donated to improve the lives of factory workers.
Everlane's Renew Transit backpack is a standout accessory. It has a 15" exterior laptop pocket to make security checks a breeze. Plenty of zip and slip pockets make storing and accessing your gear a snap. It's super eco-friendly, made from 100% recycled polyester. The Warm Quartz color is a beautiful neutral that will match just about anything.
Fjallraven backpacks are perfect for any kind of adventure. Each sustainable backpack comes in fifty-five different colors and is suitable for all ages. They use non-toxic and sustainable materials, including Tencel, recycled wool, organic hemp, and eco wool, and do fair labor, fair trade, and ethical sourcing of products. They fund UN verified energy projects and support research in non-profit organizations.
The classic Kranken style by Fjallraven is a great everyday bag. This durable backpack is made of Vinylon F. The fabric has a weird name but it's dirt- and water-resistant, and it wipes clean. It's 16L capacity is plenty for toting your daily gear and the ergonomic shoulder straps provide lots of comfort. I love the Warm Yellow color for a bold look, but the Kranken comes in 55 colors, so you are sure to find one that matches your style.
Lo & Sons is a resource-efficient family-owned brand for women and men. They use plant-based fibers, recycled nylon, organic cotton, and vegetable-tanned leather and have a goal for 2023 to use at least 75% eco-friendly materials. They are working to decrease packaging waste by using 100% recyclable and packaging and removing all foam and unnecessary plastic coverings. Additionally, they take used bags and resell them through their The Renewal Shop.
Most importantly, always looking for new ways to improve their supply chain and the lifecycle of their products.
The Lo & Sons Beacon backpack is fantastic if you are looking for a smaller everyday bag. At 11L, it is more compact than some of the other bags listed here, but it can still hold a 13" MacBook Air along with the rest of your necessary daily items. The main compartment is a roomy zippered pocket that allows you to easily slip items in and out. There are also two smaller stash pockets at the back. The interior features two mesh pockets, a zippered pocket, three smaller slip pockets, and a larger slip pocket for folders or paperwork.
Pakt promotes slow, sustainable fashion and minimalism. Their product line is small and intentional; every single item comes with a lifetime warranty. They produce their products as responsibly as possible, using durable, animal-friendly materials that have the lowest possible environmental impact.
They use recycled materials whenever possible including rPET (recycled pet) which is made from recycled single use plastic including plastic bottles. Shipped in 100% plastic free packaging, every step of Pakt's process is carefully crafted to be environmentally and socially responsible.
The smallest bag on the list, this versatile 5L sling is a great commuter backpack. The shoulder strap can be tucked away into the back panel, so you can also use the sling as a toiletry bag or tech case. This makes a great carry-on bag.
Paravel is an award-winning brand; and known for its foldable, lightweight, and eco-friendly travel backpacks and accessories. They manufacture their backpacks using vegan leather, recycled plastic, jute, recycled polycarbonate, circular cotton, and eco-friendly canvas.
In order to ensure fair labor, Paravel has a code of social responsibility that includes employee health and safety, freedom, and dignity as well as fair wages and animal welfare. They have a three part strategy to fight climate changes that includes reducing carbon emissions, incorporating upcycled materials, and planting trees to replenish depleted ecosystems. They have upcycled over 4.7 million plastic bottles and planted over 170,000 trees.
This lightweight bag can easily carry your essentials and up to a 15-inch laptop. Its minimal design makes it travel friendly, and it can be folded into a small 6" square to be stowed away. Each Fold-Up Backpack is made from 15 recycled plastic water bottles.
Patagonia is a long-standing leader in the production of eco-friendly backpacks and products. They create their backpacks using recycled fabric, organic cotton, and recycled polyester. 94% of their entire line is produced using recycled materials.
Patagonia's Worn Wear helps reduce fashion waste by repairing and reselling garments that may have otherwise ended up in a landfill. In 2020 alone, they repaired over 100,000 items.
Their bags are ethically made with little waste of water and energy. 100% of their electricity needs in the US were met with renewable energy. 1% of their revenue goes to charities and volunteering programs.
I love the Patagonia Atom Sling bag. This sling bag for men or women has an 8L capacity and carries close to body for all-day comfort. The one strap backpack features small zippered compartments on the strap an the front to help keep your gear organized. It's made from a recycled polyester/nylon blend fabric.
Recognized in 2020 as a World Changing Ideas finalist, Solgaard is a 'plastic negative' company. They use recycled ocean plastic and vegan leather to create their highly compartmentalized backpacks and gear for men and women. Their backpacks come with accessories, including a power bank, built-in solar panel, anti-theft lock, and boombox (optional).
With a lofty goal to cut ocean plastic in half by 2025, Solgaard is tackling the problem by saving 229 plastic bottles from ending up in the ocean for every item they sell. They've partnered with four groups in The Philippines, Indonesia, and China who work with local teams to pull plastic out of the ocean to be upcycled. So far, they have saved 22,600,000 bottles!
This bag is a multipurpose heavyweight backpack. The expandable zipper offers flexibility to pack light, or expand as needed going from 28L to 38L capacity when expanded. The coolest part about this model is the removable, hanging closet that allows you to keep a week’s worth of clothing organized and easily accessible. Lots of compartments and pockets help keep your things in their place, including up to a 16" laptop.
Since pledging to remove 1 pound of trash from the ocean for every product purchased, United by Blue has removed over 4.2 million pounds of garbage. All of their products are made in GOTS-certified factories from sustainably-sourced materials.
United by Blue urges conscious consumption, by designing products that help people create less waste, including reusable cups and food storage. They are also committed to create their products in a socially responsible way by only partnering with factories that hold the highest standards for facilities and personnel.
My personal favorite is the 25 Liter Backpack Carryall in Midnight. I love it's unique look with the top carrying handles for when you don't want to carry it on your back. Make from recycled polyester and nylon, this covertible carry bag features a roomy interior and a padded sleeve that can fit a 15” laptop. It also has padded, adjustable, and removable shoulder straps and plenty of side pockets.
Tentree's ethically made backpacks, clothing, and accessories are produced using Tencel, recycled polyester, organic cotton, and hemp. Not only does Tentree plant 10 trees for every item purchased, they work with partners worldwide to support reforestation to mitigate biodiversity damage; so far they have helped plant over 61 million trees.
All of Tentree factories properly compensate their workers with living wages, not just minimum wages. They also ensure proper rest days and access to essential insurance coverage.
The Mobius by Tentree is probably the most sustainble backpack here. Made from Repreve fabric created from recycled plastic bottles and padded with Bloom foam made from excess algae harvests, you can feel good knowing this bag is produced as sustainably as possible. This modular backpack can be expanded from 16L to 27L to 35L depending on what you are using it for. Great for daily use or for a weekend getaway bag.
Terra Thread produces minimalist bags and laptop sleeves which are ideal backpacks for school, light traveling, or the office. They are fair trade certified and use organic GOTS certified cotton for production. Terra Thread's backpacks are ethically made and come in plastic-free packaging. Additionally, the brand is committed to saving water, using renewable energy, and reducing its carbon footprint.
This spacious and durable backpack, made with heavy-duty 14 oz organic cotton canvas, features one large exterior pocket, one small interior pocket, and a laptop compartment. It comes in a wide variety of colors; I love the floral for a fun pop of color!
Backpacks are a timeless everyday staple. When it's time to replace your bag, look for an eco friendly backpack that works for you and you can feel good about.