If you’re on the hunt for a backpack that’s not only stylish but also environmentally friendly, you’ve come to the right place. In this blog, we’re about to unveil a lineup of eco-friendly and sustainable backpack options that are perfect for your eco-adventures or daily commutes. Let’s dive in and explore the fantastic world of sustainable backpacks!
Why Go Sustainable?
First things first, you might be wondering why you should opt for a sustainable backpack. Well, traditional backpack production can have a significant environmental impact, from the materials used to the manufacturing processes. By choosing a sustainable backpack, you’re making a small but important step toward reducing your carbon footprint and supporting ethical and eco-conscious brands.
Let’s delve into the environmental impact of synthetic materials, specifically polyester – a common choice in backpack manufacturing. Understanding these impacts is vital for making informed, eco-conscious decisions about our everyday products.
1. Oil Consumption and Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Polyester, being petroleum-based, relies heavily on crude oil for its production. To put this into perspective, the polyester industry consumes a staggering 70 billion barrels of oil annually. This immense oil consumption contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions and depletes our finite fossil fuel resources, which underpin many aspects of modern life.
2. Water Intensity: The manufacturing process of synthetic materials, polyester included, is water-intensive. Producing just one kilogram of polyester fabric requires approximately 3,000 liters of water. This substantial water consumption further strains our already limited global water resources, adding to concerns about water scarcity.
3. Persistence in the Environment: Unlike natural materials such as cotton or wool, synthetic materials like polyester do not easily break down. Polyester can linger in the environment for up to 200 years, becoming a persistent source of plastic pollution. This enduring presence has far-reaching ecological implications.
4. Pollution and Health Concerns: The production of synthetic materials involves the use of various chemicals and pollutants. These substances can be released into the air and water, resulting in air and water pollution. The presence of these pollutants can harm human health and disrupt delicate ecosystems, affecting terrestrial and aquatic life alike.
Given these significant environmental challenges linked to synthetic materials, particularly polyester, consumers and manufacturers are increasingly seeking more sustainable alternatives. Sustainable backpack brands, as mentioned earlier, often prioritise recycled or eco-friendly materials to mitigate these environmental burdens and promote responsible consumption. Making mindful choices when selecting products and supporting eco-conscious brands plays a pivotal role in reducing the adverse impacts of synthetic materials on our planet.
The Advantages of Sustainable Backpacks
Let’s talk about the fantastic benefits of opting for sustainable backpacks. These eco-conscious choices offer numerous advantages that go beyond just style:
1. Reduced Carbon Footprint: Sustainable backpacks often utilize recycled polyester, which is a game-changer. Compared to virgin polyester, the production of recycled polyester significantly slashes water and energy usage. This translates to a smaller carbon footprint, contributing to a healthier planet.
2. Organic Cotton for a Cleaner World: Many sustainable backpacks incorporate organic cotton, which is cultivated without harmful pesticides and chemicals. This is a win-win for both the environment and the hardworking farmers. It’s a more eco-friendly choice that promotes healthier farming practices.
3. Innovative Production Techniques: Eco friendly backpack brands are all about innovation. They employ production techniques like natural fabric dyeing, which reduces the use of synthetic and potentially harmful dyes. Plus, they’re all about saving water during manufacturing and conserving this precious resource.
4. Durability You Can Count On: Sustainable backpacks are designed to last. Many of them are crafted from recycled materials that would otherwise end up in landfills. This durability means fewer replacements, less waste, and the conservation of natural resources. It’s a win for your wallet and the environment.
5. Planet-Friendly Protection for Your Belongings: When you choose eco friendly backpacks, you’re not only protecting the environment but also safeguarding your belongings. These backpacks are built to endure the rigours of everyday life, ensuring your gear stays safe and sound.
So, by opting for eco friendly backpacks, you’re not just making a style statement – you’re making a statement for the preservation of our beautiful planet. It’s a win-win for your daily adventures and for Mother Earth herself.
Eco Friendly Backpack Features
Whether you’re a student, a professional on the go, a digital nomad, or an avid traveller – whether you’re carrying a laptop or hiking gear – choosing an eco friendly backpack that combines reliability and ample space is crucial. Here are some key factors to consider when making your selection:
1. Storage Capacity: Look for a backpack with a volume ranging from 18 to 27 litres. This makes it compact and suitable for small to medium-sized needs. It’s versatile enough to accommodate laptops ranging from 14 to 16 inches.
2. Spacious Main Compartment: A well-designed backpack should feature a spacious main compartment. This main space should also include multiple internal pockets for efficient organization, ensuring your daily essentials are easy to find and well-protected.
3. Padded Laptop Sleeve: Protecting your devices is a priority. Therefore, your eco friendly backpack should come with a padded laptop sleeve. This sleeve ensures the safety of your laptop during your daily adventures.
4. Padded Shoulder Straps: Comfort matters, especially during extended wear. Ensure that the backpack is equipped with padded shoulder straps. These provide the necessary comfort, even when you’re carrying a load for an extended period.
5. Breathable Back Panels: To keep you comfortable throughout the day, look for a backpack with breathable back panels. These panels promote airflow, preventing that uncomfortable, sweaty feeling and helping you stay cool.
6. Sustainable Materials: The materials used in the backpack should align with your eco-friendly values. Look for options made from upcycled, recycled, organic cotton, or plant-based materials. These sustainable choices not only support the environment but also ensure the backpack’s durability, guaranteeing long-lasting use.
13 Sustainable and Eco Friendly Backpacks for Eco Nomads in 2023
We’ve put together a selection of the top 13 sustainable and eco friendly backpacks that align with the criteria mentioned earlier. These backpacks seamlessly blend minimalist aesthetics with well-thought-out functionality, all while prioritising eco-consciousness. Let’s dive into the highlights:
Sustainable Backpacks From the United States
Solgaard Lifepack Endeavor (Large)
Image source: Solgaard.co
Solgaard designed the Lifepack Endeavor for modern travellers and digital nomads. With the Lifepack Endeavor, you can transition seamlessly from everyday use to weekend mode, thanks to the expandable zipper that allows you to pack light and expand when you need to. You can expand the pack’s capacity from 27 litres to 35 litres.
In addition, the Endeavor features a removable hanging closet, offering you convenient organisation for a week’s worth of clothes. It also provides drop-proof laptop storage suitable for laptops up to 16 inches in size and a water-resistant bottom for added protection. The backpack is available in five different colours: Black, Olive Green, Atlantic Blue, Sand, and Charcoal.
Solgaard crafts the Lifepack Endeavor backpack from durable Shore-Tex™ fabric, made using recycled ocean-bound plastic.
- 27-litre Volume (35 litres when expanded)
- Drop-proof laptop storage for up to 16″ Laptop
- Removable hanging closet
- Water-resistant bottom
Customer Rating: 4.9/5
Price: $265 USD
Patagonia Refugio Daypack 26L
*Best Fair Trade Backpack
Image source: patagonia.com
Patagonia designed the Refugio Daypack 26L to support efficient work when you’re on the go and provide reliable gear-carrying capabilities when you’re on the trail. It’s equipped with a durable water-repellent coating (DWR) that effectively resists light moisture. In addition to the inherent durability of these packs, Patagonia offers repair services to prolong the lifespan of your backpack. The Patagonia Refugio Daypack 26L is available in various colours.
Patagonia constructed the Refugio Daypack 26L primarily from 100% recycled polyester fabrics. The side pockets are crafted from a blend of 84% recycled nylon and 16% spandex, providing stretchiness while incorporating recycled materials. The pack is equipped with a PFC-free (perfluorinated chemistry-free) DWR (durable water-repellent) finish, guaranteeing effective water resistance without the use of harmful chemicals.
Furthermore, this backpack is Fair Trade Certified™ sewn, promoting fair trade practices and ensuring that the individuals involved in its production receive a premium for their labour.
- 26-litre Volume
- Removable padded sleeve fits laptops up to 15″
- Durable Water-Repellent coating (DWR)
Customer Rating: 3.8/5
Price: $ 109 USD
Osprey FLARE 27
Image source: osprey.com
The Osprey FLARE 27 is a versatile backpack that caters to daily commuting, day hikes, and various outdoor activities. It features a durable water-repellent (DWR) coating, providing protection for your belongings against light moisture. With a 27-litre capacity, the FLARE is a great medium-sized backpack suitable to use on campus and beyond. Its main compartment includes a spacious internal laptop sleeve capable of accommodating up to a 16-inch laptop. The Osprey FLARE 27 is available in three colour options; blue, black, and brown.
Osprey constructs the FLARE 27 pack using bluesign® approved 600D recycled polyester for the main body fabrics, a material that meets high performance and environmental standards. Additionally, the pack’s durable water-repellent (DWR) coating is PFC/PFAS-free (Perfluorinated Compounds and Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances free), reducing the use of harmful chemicals in the manufacturing process.
- 27-litre volume
- The laptop sleeve fits most 16-inch laptops
- Durable water-repellent (DWR) coating
Customer Ratings: 4.7/5
Price: $ 85 USD
Peak Design EVERYDAY BACKPACK ZIP
*Best for wet weather
Image source: peakdesign.com
According to Peak Design, the Everyday Backpack Zip is a visually and functionally simplified version of the iconic Everyday Backpack. The brand designed the pack for everyday urban use or for carrying photography equipment. With a 20-litre storage capacity, the backpack features a weatherproof shell, ensuring the protection of your items from the elements. The dedicated laptop sleeve is designed to fit the 2021 MacBook Pro 14″, but it is not compatible with the 16″ model. The Everyday Backpack Zip is available in four colours, including black and bone (sand).
Peak Design make the Everyday Backpack Zip from 100% recycled post-consumer materials. Its weatherproof shell is crafted from 100% recycled 400D double poly-coated DWR-impregnated (Durable weather resistant) nylon canvas. Additionally, the backpack incorporates a 900D waterproof bottom liner.
- 20-litre volume
- Holds up to 15” Laptop
- Durable water-repellent (DWR) shell
- Waterproof bottom liner
Customer rating: 4.8/5
Price: $ 189.95 USD
Pacsafe Vibe 25L Anti-Theft Backpack
*Best for security
Image source: pacsafe.com
The Pacsafe Vibe 25L Anti-Theft Backpack is consciously designed to cater to the security needs of travellers and urban explorers. Its anti-theft features, including lockable zippers, ensure the protection of your belongings. The backpack’s 25-litre capacity offers ample space for gym essentials and a 13-inch laptop. This pack features Pacsafe’s eXomesh slash guard material, which effectively prevents slash-and-run theft attempts. Additionally, the inclusion of RFID-blocking pockets protects your credit cards and passports from electronic theft. The backpack is also hydration pack compatible and water-resistant.
Note: Pacsafe only ships to specific regions, which include the United Kingdom, Europe, Asia Pacific, and Hong Kong.
The Vibe 25L Anti-Theft Backpack is made using ECONYL® regenerated nylon and post-consumer recycled polyester (rPET). ECONYL® regenerated nylon is made from discarded materials such as fishing nets, fabric scraps, and plastic waste broken down into raw nylon. The result is a more environmentally friendly and recyclable material.
By incorporating these eco-friendly fabrics, the backpack represents the equivalent of repurposing 8 recycled plastic bottles. The water-resistant coating is also PFC-free (Perfluorinated Compounds free).
- 25-litre volume
- A padded sleeve fits a 13-inch laptop
- Lockable zippers
- eXomesh slash guard material
- RFID-blocking pockets
- Hydration pack compatible
- Water-resistant coating
Customer Rating: 4.9/5
Price: $ 179.95 USD
Sustainable Backpacks From Other Countries
Sealand Recycled buddy backpack (Large)
*Best grab-and-go option
Image source: sealandgear.co.za
Sealand has gained renown for its innovative approach to upcycling materials. They create products with minimal environmental impact through the use of repurposed materials that would otherwise contribute to landfill waste.
One of their standout creations is the Recycled Buddy backpack. With its 18-litre volume, the backpack is designed to cater to both organized urban activities and spontaneous off-the-path adventures. The use of upcycled materials ensures its durability and weather resistance. With a versatile handle, it’s a great companion for those moments when you need to grab and go. The Recycled buddy backpack is available in four different colours.
Craftsmen handcraft the buddy backpack using ECONYL® Regenerated Nylon.
- 18 Litre volume
- Padded sleeve suitable for up to 15” Laptop
Customer Rating: 4.8/5
Price: $ 79.62 USD
Sentient Bos Backpack
*Best vegan backpack
Image source: Sentient
Sentient, an outerwear and accessories brand, embodies compassion, unity, and peace in every thread. Their mission goes beyond fashion, pioneering vegan and sustainable alternatives to animal leather. Their commitment extends to the present and future well-being of humanity, animals, and the planet, aligning perfectly with your values.
Rejecting compromise, Sentient believes in expressing style without harm or overproduction. As a proud member of 1% For The Planet, they’ve partnered with Naturalia to actively contribute to conserving and restoring ecosystems and wildlife.
Meet the BOS backpack: a blend of simplicity and elegance that mirrors your dynamic lifestyle. Named to honour exploited cows, it’s a cruelty-free response to conventional animal leather bags. Ideal for daily errands or weekend getaways, the BOS backpack symbolises purposeful living.
Materials make the difference. Crafted from Desserto® cactus vegan leather, it’s a sustainable, plant-derived alternative. This vegan-certified cactus leather stands against traditional animal leather, grown responsibly without harmful chemicals. Comprising 30% cactus fibre and 70% Bio PU, it combines resilience with ethical integrity. Even its packaging reflects eco-consciousness, utilising recycled materials. Check out the Sentient Bos Backpack.
- Padded compartment for a securely stowed laptop.
Price: $ 285 USD
Three Peaks Commuter 22L
*Best for a large laptop
Images source: Three Peaks
Three Peaks is a brand committed to developing quality, robust products that are made to last. Their bags come with a realistic price tag without compromising the environment. The brand says “We work closely with our international suppliers to ensure they meet global standards for recycled materials as well as for Social, Environmental and Ethical conditions…” Additionally, Three Peaks Donates 2% of its gross profit to support Ocean Generation, a charitable organisation dedicated to the protection and restoration of the Oceans.
Commuter 22L Backpack
Three Peaks designed their Commuter 22L backpack for business and leisure travel. The backpack is hard-wearing, water-resistant and holds up to a 17-inch laptop, making it a great carry-on companion for the eco nomad. The Commuter 22L is available in khaki and in black with various colour labels, including the blue ‘ocean tag’ which we absolutely love. The backpack is shipped internationally with recycled paper packaging and without additional customs or duties costs.
Three Peaks craft bags out of recycled plastic bottles, helping to reduce future plastic pollution. Impressively, the brand has recycled over 50,000 plastic bottles into bags.
- 22L Capacity
- Padded pocket suitable for carrying up to a 17″ laptop
- Suitcase strap
- Security pocket
- USB charging port
Customer Rating: 4.9/5
Price: $ 76.50 USD
Image Source: True North
In the realm of outdoor gear, True North stands as a homegrown family brand, dedicated to kindling the spirit of adventure in enthusiasts of all ages. Born from a love for nature and a passion for quality, their mission extends beyond mere products – it’s about doing good.
True North’s ethos revolves around producing gear that not only looks and feels exceptional but also serves a higher purpose. With every purchase, they extend a helping hand to the RNLI Lifeboats, exemplifying their commitment to making a positive impact. Their love for the planet is unmistakable, as they diligently integrate more sustainable materials into their offerings to contribute to its preservation.
Explorer Recycled Backpack
The Explorer Recycled Backpack has won hearts with its versatile design and thoughtful features. From a discreet back pocket to cleverly elasticated water bottle pouches catering to various sizes, it’s a backpack designed for all. Whether packed with essentials for young adventurers, cameras and laptops for explorers, or books and school supplies, it’s the quintessential companion for any journey.
This backpack is built to last with a durable and planet-friendly Repreve recycled plastic outer and a ripstop lining. Check out the True North Explorer Recycled Backpack.
- Capacity: Approximately 18 litres
- Padded laptop sleeve comfortably fits 13-inch device
- Secret security pocket on the back for valuables
- Key hook
- Handle hooks for attaching items externally
- YKK zippers
- Triangular aluminium carabiner
Price: $ 51.00 USD
Muute isoAHTI Backpack
Images source: Muute
Muute weaves simplicity and style into their creations by repurposing high-quality surplus materials from local Finnish industries. The isoAHTI backpack encapsulates their ethos with a blend of urban coolness and practicality.
This 24L urban backpack is more than just a carrier; it’s a statement of conscious design. It boasts a laptop pocket that cradles devices up to 15″. What’s intriguing is that this pocket finds its padding in recycled sleeping pad material – a touch that adds comfort and ingenuity to your outdoor escapades. When unrolled, the backpack adapts to the load you’re carrying, a feature that echoes your dynamic lifestyle.
Each isoAHTI backpack is a testament to Muute’s commitment to craftsmanship and sustainability. Tailored to order, it’s a personalised accessory designed to withstand the test of time and travel.
The allure extends to the materials used. Produced with meticulous care in Finland, the backpack’s outer fabric is a choice between two eco-friendly options. One is a water-repellent wool blend, repurposed from excess Finnish military materials, exuding a subtle charm in grey. The second option is a water-repellent Enstex fabric, born from 40% Polyamide and 60% Cotton, a surplus from the local industry, offering a sleek black variant.
Peek inside, and you’ll find the interior lined with robust fabric, again sourced from domestic industrial surplus. Even the padding in the laptop compartment boasts a clever touch of sustainability – it’s repurposed from recycled foam mattresses. Check out the Muute isoAHTI backpack.
- Volume: 24 L
- Laptop compartment for 15″ laptop
- Roll top closure and snap button
- Reinforced bottom
Price: $ 260 USD
Wayks Berlin Travel Backpack Original
*Best for expandability
Image sources: Wayks Berlin
Wayks Berlin is a sister-brother duo that develops innovative travel solutions in a bid to transform consumption for the better. The brand’s vision is to equip you for any activity in any environment, eliminating the need to buy many separate products. Ingenious!
The Travel Backpack Original offers a modular, transformable 3-in-1 ‘suitable for carry-on’ backpack that converts from a 45 litre travel backpack into a smaller 25 litre day pack. The pack features an adjustable volume via an expandable roll top and a sturdy detachable bottom compartment (“Cube”). Equipped with YKK zippers, its adaptive bottom compartment is a great idea for separating wet swimming clothes or dirty shoes. It even includes insulating material to keep drinks cold and food hot! The Travel Backpack Original is available with international shipping.
The Travel Backpack Original’s weatherproof fabric is made from recycled PET bottles in a factory audited by the Fair Wear Foundation. It features PFC-free coating (outside) and PU coating (inside) for waterproofing.
- Capacity: 25-45L
- Padded laptop compartment fits MacbookPro 16″
- YKK zippers
Customer rating: 4.8/5
Price: $ 314.30 USD
Image source: reikabags.co.uk
Reika bags are the brainchild of adventurers, crafted for fellow adventurers. Every step of their journey, from supply chain to product lifecycle, is guided by an unwavering commitment to ethical practices. Their confidence is evident in their offer of a lifetime guarantee on all backpacks and bags. If your trusty companion faces a snag, they’ll dive into repair mode, minimising waste. And if the challenge is too great, they’ll replace it, no strings attached.
20L Roll Top Backpack
The 20L Roll Top Backpack isn’t just an accessory; it’s a solution for the modern explorer. Built for the commute, cycling, flights, and hikes. The secret sauce? A design process that prioritises innovation, where durability reigns supreme – be it tough materials or fail-safe structures.
But Reika’s mission stretches far beyond their products’ surfaces. Their gaze is fixed on both planetary and human impacts. They methodically assess methods and materials, acknowledging the Earth’s well-being and the well-being of the hands that craft and transport their goods.
Reika’s dedication extends to the nitty-gritty, immersing itself in the supply chain’s intricacies. They trace their supply chain from waste plastic sourcing to fabric creation. For every bag sold, they reclaim 1000 plastic bottles. Packaging mirrors their commitment – a blend of recycled cardboard and biodegradable, plant-based cornstarch, creating an eco-friendly cycle.
When it comes to textiles, Reika doesn’t compromise. Their selection carries the coveted Bluesign® approval, with assembly taking place in Bluesign® certified mills and factories. This means every step adheres to the highest standards, minimising environmental impact and embracing responsible chemical use and water filtration.
In essence, Reika doesn’t just create bags; it cultivates a mindful journey. With them, adventure wears a conscience, reminding us that every step, every stitch, and every choice matters. Discover Reika’s collection – where your exploration isn’t just about the destination, but the journey to a better world.
- Capacity: 20L
- 16” foam padded laptop sleeve
- YKK Aquaguard zippers
- Hidden key clip for convenient and secure key storage
- Hidden passport pocket for convenient and secure passport storage
- Bike light attachment strap
- Luggage pass-through strap
Customer rating: 4.9/5
Price: $ 134 USD
Fjallraven RÄVEN 28
*Best for durability
Image source: fjallraven.com
Fjällräven designed the Raven 28 backpack for commuting and everyday outdoor life. They prioritise creating products with a long lifespan so that you can use them for many years. The brand makes the backpack from its own hardwearing outdoor fabric, ensuring durability and longevity. Additionally, it is weather-resistant and quick-drying, making it suitable for various weather conditions. The Fjällräven Raven 28 is available in eight colours including black and olive green.
Fjällräven crafts the Raven 28 backpack from their G-1000 HeavyDuty outdoor fabric, a blend of recycled polyester and organic cotton. Importantly, they produce the backpack without using PFCs (perfluorinated compounds). This reduces the use of harmful chemicals in the manufacturing process.
- 28-litre volume
- Laptop compartment for laptops up to 15”
Customer Rating: 4.45/5
Price: $ 152.41 USD
Kathmandu Cotinga Pack 25L
*Best for Laptop Protection
Image source: kathmandu.com
Kathmandu designed the 25-litre Cotinga Pack as a versatile everyday backpack for work and play. It features an elevated notebook sleeve accommodating up to a 15-inch laptop, ensuring your device is protected on the ground. It uses high-quality YKK zippers ensuring durability and smooth operation. The Kathmandu Cotinga Pack 25L is available in three different colours.
Note: Please note that Kathmandu currently limits shipping to specific countries, including Australia, Canada, the Cook Islands, Fiji, France, Germany, Japan, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Samoa, South Korea, Tonga, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Vanuatu.
The Cotinga Pack consists of 100% polyester with its outer fabric made from REPREVE, a polyester made from recycled plastic bottles. This pack utilises the equivalent of 25 recycled plastic bottles, contributing to waste reduction and promoting a more sustainable production process.
- 25-litre Volume
- An elevated notebook sleeve fits up to a 15-inch laptop
- YKK zippers
Customer Rating: 4.4/5
Price: $ 209 USD
Bellroy Transit Backpack
*Best for carry-on luggage
Image source: bellroy.com
The Bellroy Transit Backpack – made from durable and water-resistant materials – offers reliable protection against various weather conditions in its 28-litre pack. Its notable feature is the expandable design, which allows you to easily increase the bag’s capacity when necessary. This versatility makes it an ideal choice if you’re a traveller who requires additional space for souvenirs or other items during your journeys. The Bellroy Transit Backpack is available in three attractive colours: Black, Night Sky, and Ranger Green.
The Bellroy Transit Backpack features durable, water-resistant woven fabric, made from recycled materials, and environmentally certified leather.
- 28-litre volume
- 16” laptop compartment
Customer Rating: 4.6/5
Price: $ 259 USD
A Final Word on Sustainable Backpacks
No matter if you’re a dedicated traveller, a nature lover, or a daily commuter, there’s a sustainable backpack out there that perfectly matches your lifestyle and values. These backpacks come in a wide array of options, from those built for lasting durability and versatility to those championing fair trade practices and environmental stewardship.
When you’re on the hunt for a sustainable backpack, keep in mind critical factors such as the use of sustainable materials, ethical manufacturing processes, durability, and overall functionality. Opting for a backpack crafted from recycled materials, organic fabrics, or cutting-edge sustainable fibres allows you to reduce your reliance on finite resources and actively contribute to waste reduction.
By embracing sustainable backpacks, we embark on our adventures with the assurance that we’re leaving a lighter footprint on our beloved planet. These backpacks don’t just carry our belongings; they carry our commitment to a more sustainable future. Together, we can make a significant impact and pave the way for a greener, more eco-friendly world. Let’s choose wisely and carry our values with us wherever we roam.
What’s your favourite sustainable backpack? Let us know in the comments below.
Please Note: We captured these prices at a spot exchange rate, so prices may not account for currency fluctuations.