9 Best Sustainable Backpacks for Eco Friendly Travellers

You are an eco friendly person, with your heart fixed on making a more positive impact, right? You want the best for the world, whilst also getting the best for yourself. We are also willing to bet, because you love the planet, that you want to see more of it? How did we nail down your character so well? Because we are exactly the same! The world is beautiful. It is worth checking out, and in the most sustainable way possible. So, whilst travelling around the world, you want to make sure that you have the best, most durable and sustainable products to aid you on your trip. And you’re going to need something equally durable and sustainable to put it all in! Introducing the 9 best environmentally friendly backpacks for eco-friendly travellers!

It cannot be denied, backpacks are big business. Great for long trips or day use, better for your back and spine, and transportable anywhere! Which is more than we can say for wheelie cases. Yes, the backpack is the reserve of those with wanderlust, and a desire to change the world. And with all eyes seemingly on how to live a more ethical and sustainable life, it is worth checking out some reputable companies that make insanely good products using recycled materials to the greatest possible extent, and give back to both communities and customers.

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We will talk design and size, eco friendly materials, fair trade practices and—perhaps most importantly—durability! Combining all of these important factors to bring you a complete understanding of what you really need. Whether you’re out to the shops, out for the day, or hitting the road for a while, we will bring confidence to your next purchase. And a warm glow to your heart, knowing you are in ethical hands.

best sustainable backpacks
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Top 9 Best Sustainable Backpacks

There are many things to keep in mind for when looking for the best sustainable backpacks. Ethically sourced, sustainable materials and manufacture, a well paid workforce, companies that give back to nature and communities. Even sustainable packaging. When it comes to divining which company makes the most sought after eco friendly backpack, everything should be considered. But that is not to say that they will all have the same ethos, materials or practices.

Some may be more geared towards environmental impact, sourcing materials that are not going to negatively impact the local areas or communities. These companies may also pledge to plant trees or aid in clean up and conservation. Other teams might lean toward fair trade and ethical production, and many are dedicated to how their workforce is treated.

The focus within many of these companies is to provide better working conditions alongside consideration for our ecosystem. Our list provides a great cross-section of all the biggest and brightest movers and shakers in the business. What they do, and what the quality they can bring to your life.

best sustainable backpacks
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Solgaard Lifepack

The flagship backpack for this forward thinking company, this is a great option for light travel and day use, and for transporting your laptop around! made from recycled plastic bottles from our oceans. That’s correct, this is what is used to make their innovative Shore-Tex™ fabric. And for every item sold, Solgaard pull pull 5lbs of plastic from the ocean. And this is what makes up the backpack. Their mission statement is to reduce the amount of plastic in the ocean by half by 2025.

It features a ‘solarbank’ charging panel, with the option to include a bluetooth speaker. Plus, the pack features a solarbank window for charging on the go, with two USB ports and USB-C for fast charging. Transporting your laptop is made simple with the in-built padded laptop sleeve, and the whole pack has a clever anti-theft design. The integrated lock means you can lock the bags zip, or attach the whole bag to a stationary item while you relax. It also comes with handy hidden pockets to keep items secure, and strap pockets for easy access to cards or keys.

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The guys at Solgaard are not just dedicated to providing sustainable products that help to remove pollution from our seas. They are also dedicated to providing safety conscious, intuitive and hard-waring products to their customers. It is this kind of thinking that puts them top of this best eco-friendly backpacks review!

best sustainable backpacks
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Fjällräven Kanken

These are the backpacks that have become synonymous with everyday use. Their signature square design and array of colours make this a top choice for many people. Not only is it durable, washable and vegan, it also outlasts changes in fashion. They also come in a variety of sizes, making them a great option for adults and children.

Fjällräven are dedicated to providing backpacks made from organic cotton, recycled polyester, and they support renewable energy projects. They are also supportive of the Five Freedoms initiative, protecting animals against cruelty. As such, they do not use animals products in most of their products. The only Kanken bags made with wool comes from recycled items. That being said, there is little to point towards fair labour practices.

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This being said, the company does promote and support sustainability in its materials and rely on fabrics like recycled nylon. We only hope as time will go on their labour and supply chain practices will become more transparent.

best sustainable backpacks
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Osprey Fairview 40

Osprey are revered as a fabulous travel brand. Not only are their best backpacks designed for hiking and trekking, they are very durable and sustainable. They are also dedicated to fixing issues, rather than just sending out new products. Plus, any unusable old bags are saved for spare parts. This is part of their ‘all-mighty guarantee’, a lifetime warranty that certainly puts many buyers’ minds at ease. It literally does not matter how long you have had your bag. If it’s broke, they will fix it! This means fewer bags going to landfill sites, and more time with the bag you have spanned the globe with. While it may seem impossible for some, but a true wanderlust can and does get all sentimental about their sustainable backpack! Right?

This bag is one of the larger options in our review. With around 54 litres capacity in a lightweight frame of 1.45kg, the bag is made of a ‘Nylon Mini Hex Diamond Ripstop’ fabric. It has wonderfully padded handles at the top and side for easier carrying when not on your back. Plus, the full zip makes packing super easy. Incredibly, it also fits the carry-on dimensions for most flight companies. Another option in Osprey’s catalogue is the mens Osprey Farpoint 40. Also advertised as the ‘unisex’ option, the features are slightly larger, whereas the Fairview has been optimised for women.

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One glance at the Osprey website also confirms their dedication to sustainability as well as social responsibility.

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Mafia Discover Pack

These one of a kind backpacks are great for travellers who want to be eco-friendly and stand out with one-of-a-kind makes! They utilise old sails from boats and other water sports equipment, as well as wetsuits and drysuits, to create these unique 90’s look bags. Operating out of California, the company has single-handedly saved over 6000 feet of sails from becoming landfill.

The discover pack, the largest of their designs, is suitable for day-use and carry-on luggage. It features lots of space for your personal effects and even a padded pocket for your laptop. The adjustable straps are made of durable padded material, and every item comes with a lifetime guarantee!

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You can also donate spare sails, if you have them, and receive a free backpack! If you are into your water sports and want to take a bit of the sea with you wherever you go, this is the company for you.

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Beekeeper Parade Royal Backpack

This is a very special project with a very special story. Every product featured is made from fabrics that would have gone to landfill, are 100% cotton, and very durable. And they are mostly unique! They are designed with the urban explorer in mind, with lots of pockets and comfortable straps. Plus, their store also features a range of different products, from bumbags and weekender bags to laptop cases and various sleeves and pouches.

This project dedicated to creating organic cotton canvas backpacks was envisioned by siblings as a jetpack to launch their real passion. The BabyTree Projects in Cambodia. This is a charity started by brother Koky and his sister Sophia, devised before her death from cancer in 2012. This project brings quality education to the children of Cambodia. Every bag you buy helps them achieve this dream, and to date they have helped over 3000 children to access better schooling. In 2014 they even built the Sophia Saly school on the beach in Cambodia!

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This is a grass-roots company that not only has an ecological, but a societal frame of mind. And the heartbreaking but joyful story of these siblings makes it all the more poignant.

best sustainable backpacks
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Terra Thread Earthpack

This is just another great day use option that we have in our review of the best sustainable backpacks. Not only is the Earthpack stylish, it has lots of compartments for easy storage (including a an external pocket for water bottles) and is completely fair trade! That means fair trade cotton, factories. They have even been certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). All of this has lead them to become a certified B corporation, as they focus on both the environmental and social impact of their business operation. Through transparency when it comes to their processes, supply chain and customer value, Terra Thread are leading the pack when it comes to complete sustainability and an ethical mindset.

All backpacks are handmade, with all tags and packaging made from the best recyclable and sustainable products. And each product comes with an inventory of all the positive impacts your purchase has made. With each backpack 20 meals will be donated to children and families in need, and they also list the carbon footprint the product has.

best sustainable backpacks
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Banana Backpacks Khmer Explorer

Designed with the long term traveller in mind, this Khmer Explorer Travel set is one of the best options you will ever see. The set of zipper bags included are designed to fit right into the bottom section of the bag for more organised packing. It also features layered compartments and a tonne of zippered pockets for optimum organisation, including small strap pockets for storing your important items. It is ergonomic and weatherproof, and looks stylish to boot.

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This is another company formulated by a sister and brother duo. And their vision helps to provide kids in Cambodia with school meals. We all know how important brain food is, and each bag you purchase will feed a Cambodian kid twice a day for a year. You will even find the name of the child sewn into the left strap of your bag!

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Each one of these eco-friendly backpacks is made in Vietnam, but the best thing is that these locations are far from sweatshops. Their ethical workforce procedures mean each worker is provided with fair wages. Plus their workforce is mainly female, and supports women in higher working positions!

Photo by Eder Oliveira on Unsplash

Patagonia Arbour 25L

Many of you will be well aware of this behemoth of outdoor pursuits. What you might not know is that Patagonia is another certified B corporation. Dedicated to transparency within the full lifecycle of the products, as well as delivering constant support to customers. As a company, they are also very committed to fighting against climate change, and aiding in economic as well as social change.

Their 25 litre Arbour Classic polyester backpack is finished with a fluorinated durable water repellent. This is great news if you are in wet weather, but the even greater news is that Patagonia are working to remove PFCs (perfluorocarbons) from their products. This move is an effort to remove harmful chemicals from products. However, in the meantime their pledge to make their packs from single use plastic water bottles is said to reduce their carbon footprint by 59%. This is in comparison to manufacturing polyester through normal means.

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The top loading pack is a great all-rounder for day trips, hikes and weekend travels. It has a few pockets inside, including a padded section which will fit up to a 15″ laptop, and pockets at the front. The straps are also padded with an ergonomic design for maximum comfort.

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Tentree Mobius 35L

This Canadian brand is on a mission with their 360° ethical process. Designed in Canada, their products are ethically made in various countries with sustainable materials. And that’s not all! Tentree also promises to plant ten trees for every backpack sold. Hence their name. By targeting those outdoor types, they aim to “encourage environmental stewardship through earth-first apparel” [Tentree Website].

Aside from various outdoor gear, they offer several sizes of bag made with recycled polyester or organic cotton. The Mobius 35L is 100% recycled polyester, with lots of additional pockets and a handle at the top as well as the regular straps. The top-loader style allows you to expand and compress the overall size, with clips that secure together at the top, or into the sides of the backpack. This gives it a ‘4 in 1’ style, and can even be used as carry on. The straps are thick and fairly padded, giving you lots of surface area to protect your shoulders if you carry a lot of heavy items around with you.

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Once you have received your product, you can register your tree code to track the impact your purchase has had and where. Tentree currently plant trees in 6 countries currently, spanning Asia, Africa, south America and Canada. This is what makes Tentree one of the best makers of eco-friendly backpacks ecologically.

best sustainable backpacks
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Which of our Best Eco-Friendly Backpacks get your Vote?

The time to sit back and say “what can I do?” is through. As the world continues to shift, it seems there are more and more companies that are taking notice. Making changes. With many more smaller companies created every day, such as United by Blue, aimed at not just making ethical products, but supporting ethical and charitable pursuits, working with local communities, rather than taking from them.

There is no doubt about it, we live on a beautiful planet. We want to care for it, as well the people and animals living within it. We also want to see more of it. When you put this together, there can be no doubt that we must think harder about where we spend out money. Thinking more about choosing ethical companies is valuable. Not only do companies like Patagonia, Terra Threads and Tentree provide you with attire and equipment that will help you see and support this gorgeous planet. They help preserve its ecology and communities.

So what do you think? Who gets your vote? We would love to know! Whether you are out for the day, or in for the long-haul, these are companies who have your back-pack. Pardon the pun… We feel strongly about the environment, and promoting sustainable companies who think of the full life-cycle and supply chain of their products. Because when you think of the big picture, you become more aware of the minor parts that hold everything together. And this is when big change happens.

Happy travels!

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James Ardimento has spent the last 12 years journeying around the globe ! With its precious experiences and tips he gained around Asia, South America, Europe and the US he is a precious asset for this blog and for its readers