Everyone needs a backpack for something in their daily life. Maybe you want to carry your laptop during the commute to work, or your need to bring a lot of items for the next hiking trip. And the common thing between those purposes is that you always need reliable and durable products.
The good news is that these days you can totally grab one of those high-quality backpacks that are made from sustainable materials and manufacturing processes. This sustainable choice helps bring down the number of toxins, chemicals, and waste we usually dump into the environment. If you want to lend a hand, consider the best eco-friendly backpacks from our favorite ethical brands below.
How to Choose An Eco-friendly Backpacks
Most environmentally friendly backpacks on the market are mainly made from recycled materials, such as plastic bottles. But on top of this, many manufacturers have also incorporated some amount of natural materials like banana fiber, vegetable-tanned leather, or organic cotton. All of them are non-toxic, biodegradable, and mostly renewable, meaning your consumption is significantly less taxing on the environment while still providing a durable and high-quality product.
In addition to the benefits for the planet, by using locally-sourced materials, these manufacturers also help workers receive fairer wages, especially skilled artisans who often sell their products for under living wages.
As honorable as the aim of protecting the environment is, we also need our backpacks to work well on commutes, travel, and hiking trips. If you use your backpack on a daily basis, there is a high chance it’s subjected to a good amount of wear and tear, abuse, elements, or at least some throws around. An eco-friendly backpack can be totally well-made with sturdy straps and durable zippers. In fact, a durable product will help reduce the trash thrown into the environment even more in the long term.
This totally depends on how you’re going to use your backpack and your specific needs. What do you prefer? Capacity, number of compartments, aesthetics, or water resistance. Every backpack out there is different, and eco-friendly models are no exception.
Some backpacks come with special compartments for laptops and other devices, but some are also made for camping and hiking. Choose the style you plan to use to help decrease the number of wasted resources that are the direct result of buying something not suitable for you.
Unlike traditional industries, eco-conscious customers also care more about the transparency of the brands of the products they are using. You should always prioritize companies that have been awarded certifications like the B Corporation to make sure that they are honestly committing their effort to the balance between profit and sustainability.
Best Eco-Friendly Backpacks
Using eco-friendly backpacks will help significantly lower the number of wasted resources and toxins we are disposing of into the environment.
1. Bellroy Classic Backpack
The sleek design of this Bellroy classic backpack might mislead you, but it’s actually made from certified environmentally friendly leather. Additionally, the woven fabric of this 20L backpack is also durable and water-resistant. Bellroy provides 12 color options for this eco-friendly backpack. On top of popular choices like black or ash, you can totally opt for more fun colors like marine blue or forest green.
If you want a high-quality eco-friendly commuter backpack, it should not only have a stylish look but also be supportive as well, and this Bellroy product will give you exactly that. The padded back and straps will comfortably hold on to your body while you are carrying your laptop or other items. The external and internal compartments allow you to organize everything you need for an entire day, thanks to the easy-access zippered pocket for smartphones, the padded laptop pocket, and various pen slips.
It’s really a great backpack for daily carry. Your laptop is going to be safe in it wherever you go: classes, work, or the gym. The pockets are well-made and stretchy to accommodate big items. This sturdy backpack even comes with a 3-year warranty for customers who are seeking long-lasting products.
Bellroy is a certified B Corporation, meaning it’s striving to be a responsible business that meets the highest standards in terms of legal accountability, public transparency, and environmental performance. As it’s trying to balance profit and purpose, Bellroy wants to make durable products with biodegradable and recyclable materials like this classic backpack, so you can expect no excessive energy or hazardous toxins in it.
2. Cotopaxi Allpa 28L Travel Pack
This Cotopaxi Allpa backpack provides up to 28L of storage space, in an ideal choice for travel and outdoor activities like bike rides or hiking. But as big as it is, this backpack is fairly lightweight. The support it provides is also impressive, mainly thanks to the sternum and hip straps.
The exterior panels are made from remnant nylon while the huge main compartment has a sleeve and a secure closure. This compartment is designed like a suitcase, having a full-wrap zipper and subdivided zippered compartment into the sides. You can carry a big 1L water bottle in the sleeve and keep your small items in the zippered side pocket.
The harness system of the Cotopaxi Allpa pack distributes weight comfortably along the back and shoulders, thanks to the sternum strap, hip belt, and shoulder straps. It even allows you to tuck away the hip belt and shoulder straps to avoid snagging in transit.
What makes this Cotopaxi backpack special is that it belongs to the Del Dia collection, which uses high-quality repurposed fabric from productions of other companies. As a result, Cotopaxi doesn’t only reduce the materials that are likely to end up as waste in landfills but also delivers eco-friendly, durable products at the same time.
With ballistic nylon paneling and TPU coated polyester, the mesh of the Allpa backpack is flexible and breathable to improve air circulation. While it’s not fully water-resistant, this backpack can resist water in light rain. If you want more protection, Cotopaxi includes a high-visibility cover as well.
Like most companies in this list, Cotopaxi has also been certified as a B Corporation, so buying a product like this Allpa travel pack also means you’re contributing to the effort to protect the environment.
3. Fjallraven Unisex-Adult Raven
The unique thing about the materials of this Fjallraven backpack is that they are a blend of 1/3 organic cotton and 2/3 recycled polyester – a good mix of both natural and reused materials. This combination also helps the backpack water-resistant while providing good durability. It can keep your laptop and books dry, even in the heavy rain.
This 20L backpack has a main compartment with padded sleeves that you can fit in a standard 15-inch laptop. Fjallraven has also equipped it with exterior side pockets, slim top pockets, and front pockets, so you can carry water bottles and other small items with you in this unisex b.
On the outside, the padded back panel and shoulder straps provide extra comfort, even when you have packed it to the maximum capability, making the backpack rest comfortable on the shoulders.
While Fjallraven is not a certified B Corporation, this Swedish company is a member of the Fair Labor Association and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, which have the same goal of designing and making sustainable, eco-friendly products.
4. Fjallraven Re-Kanken Backpack
Equipped with carrying handles on top and adjustable straps, this Re-Kanken product from Fjallraven is an amazing choice when you need a quick grab-and-go backpack.
The name suggests that this version is based on the popular Kanken series, which is already a great choice for commute or even carry-on luggage. This difference lies in how it was made. Fjallraven claims that it has used 11 plastic water bottles to provide enough repurposed polyester for each Re-Kanken backpack while the improved dye process also brings down the amount of chemicals, energy, and water used significantly.
Even though this energy-efficient Spindye process can’t deliver subtle colors you can find on the normal Earlham series, there is still a wide range of color options available.
The main compartment is spacious with a big zippered opening, allowing users to pack and unpack it easily. Like most other backpacks from Fjallraven, it also comes with a front pack and two side pockets for small items. Additionally, thanks to the square shape of the Re-Kanken backpack, you will have an easier time placing it upright on the ground.
5. United By Blue 25L Rift Pack
Give this United By Blue backpack a chance if you love a product in neutral colors with only a water bottle spot and few pockets. It doesn’t even have any velcro – a big plus for those who think velcro is just something that wears down and becomes useless quickly.
On top of the clean lines and overall minimalism on this backpack, we believe you will be happy to know that United By Blue has used plastic bottles to make them. One more backpack like it is sold means one pound less of trash is thrown away into the environment.
As minimal as it looks, this 25L pack still includes all the most basic compartments you will need on a daily basis. However, United By Blue seems to have made a small mistake when designing this backpack. While the main compartment has a front zip, the laptop one is at the back of it, meaning you may struggle to put your laptop into this backpack.
6. OGIO Alpha Convoy Laptop Backpack
Tech enthusiasts will be impressed by this backpack from OGIO as it’s primarily designed for them. The Alpha Convoy is made with tech workers in mind, especially those who also prefer durable and sustainable products while accommodating their big collection of personal and work items.
Besides the laptop sleeve that can hold a 15-inch laptop comfortably, this OGIO backpack also comes with various zippered pockets and compartments. You can freely organize a whole host of daily items in it, thanks to the internal key clip, valuables pockets, tie-down straps, front molle straps, two bottle slots, and a huge waterproof table and laptop pocket. But the best part is the OGIO Alpha Convey is totally luggage pass-through, meaning you won’t run into any issue while flying with it.
This big backpack provides impressive storage, but OGIO has managed to achieve this without using typical materials and manufacturing processes. Instead, this company has taken advantage of recycled polyester and plastic bottles. What is usually tossed away into landfills has helped make a sturdy and tough backpack that can even resist abrasions and tearing.
7. Ecogear Solid
If you’re seeking a big environmentally friendly backpack for your next hiking trips, have a look at this 60L Ecogear Solid. Made from recycled plastic bottles, it includes two main compartments: a big upper one and a zippered sleeping one. You will have plenty of space for all your gear and items while being able to adjust it to a smaller size for your kids as well.
The Ecogear Solid is comfortable on the back and shoulders with loops and straps everywhere. You will even find two removable bungee cords on it!. The included rain cover is easy to remove when you want to store it in the little pouch at the bottom. This cover is large enough to protect your sleeping pad and the entire bag.
On the flip side, the waist straps of the Ecogear Solid don’t have any pockets to put hand items or snacks. However, given its price, it’s still an amazing choice if you want to have an eco-friendly product on the trail.
Even though this market is still much younger, the number of sustainable products keeps rising with more and more manufacturers and brands joining it. They have proved that even without traditional materials, we can still produce high-quality products from recycled and natural materials. The best eco-friendly backpacks above are a great starting point if you want to use sustainable products in your daily life.