If you’re looking to purchase a new backpack, why not reduce the carbon footprint of your trip and help the environment by buying an eco backpack
There are many sustainable backpack brands out there and it can get overwhelming when choosing a backpack. Many companies have strict policies in place and use recycled materials to reduce the amount of carbon emitted whilst some brands claim the latter but do not necessarily follow through.
Whether you are looking for the best ethical backpack for school, hiking, travel or everyday use, you are sure to find something in this guide to suit your needs
By investing and choosing one of the best eco-friendly backpacks, you will be making a small contribution towards the conservation of our planet and supporting brands that are transparent with their ethical policies, such as fair trade and equal pay for workers.
Let’s dive in...
When searching for the best eco-friendly backpack, it’s important to keep in mind that there is a wide range of backpacks available on the market, each with different features and functions.
Let’s break down all these important factors you should know about environmentally friendly backpacks to make your decision easier!
Consider the purpose of your backpack and what items you will be putting inside. Are you looking for eco-friendly backpacks for your daily commute or perhaps a sustainable backpack to carry with you for a few days whilst hiking?
The capacity of backpacks can range anywhere between 10L and 60L. You really don’t want to be trying to stuff 20L worth of luggage into a 10L bag, so make sure you choose wisely!
Most of the bags we have included in this guide are made from recyclable materials or organic fibres. Many of the sustainable backpacks on the market are vegan or made out of fabrics such as organic cotton canvas.
Try to look for materials that are not only renewable but also non-toxic.
Additionally, it would help if you took some time to understand how each company is eco-friendly and what they do to reduce carbon footprint and make their backpacks more sustainable for the future.
It’s essential to consider the number of pockets each backpack offers.
Internal pockets within the sustainable backpacks ensure your belongings remain organised, and it is easy to find things such as your keys and wallet when you require them.
If you carry a laptop with you, a major requirement might be a padded laptop sleeve in the main compartment to keep it protected.
When it comes to choosing the best eco-friendly backpacks, you’ll want to consider the comfort and support of the bag, including airflow in the straps.
A backpack that has a sturdy build will help your posture and ensure you don’t have any back pain.
Look out for sustainable backpacks equipped with padded hip belts, padded backing, and adjustable padded shoulder straps, which will all assist in distributing the weight evenly.
If you love hiking and outdoor adventures, choosing one of the weatherproof eco-friendly backpacks is a must. In case of weather changes, you are well prepared, and it will ensure no damage to your belongings.
It is important to know that water-resistant and waterproof materials are different. In instances such as light rain or snow, water-resistant means it will repel water to a certain extent.
Waterproof materials will provide extra protection and resist much harsher weather conditions such as sudden downpours or heavy snowfall.
Capacity: 22 to 40 Litres
Weight: 1.5 kg
Size (expanded): 23(D) x 60(H) x 30(W) cm
The Tropicfeel Shell is definitely our top pick for those looking for a backpack made of recycled materials. You can use this backpack as a 22L, 30L or 40L backpack. This fantastic backpack is an all-in-one versatile and functional bag that offers something for everyone!
Featuring a clamshell opening, the most impressive feature of the bag is the inbuilt wardrobe system which helps save up to 20% more space within the backpack. The wardrobe can is filled with compartments to store your belongings and can then be hung up in the closet.
Although the bag has a minimalistic and simple design, the backpack will ensure you remain organized. This best eco-friendly backpack is also completely weatherproof and will protect your belongings whether it’s snowing or raining. This backpack would be ideal if you are going on a trip to places with unpredictable weather like Ireland.
There are many hidden pockets around the bag to keep valuables and smaller items such as your keys or wallet in a safe place. You can also add a toiletry bag, tech pouch, or camera cube to your purchase for better organization for a small extra fee.
The Tropicfeel Shell is packed with a range of features to ensure the user feels optimum comfort when carrying this backpack. This includes adjustable sternum straps, dual handles, an offload mechanism to control the height of the bag and an ergonomic back panel with extra breathability.
Despite the higher price point, this bag will be the perfect investment for you. The Tropicfeel Shell is one of the best backpacks made from recycled materials guaranteed to last you a lifetime.
Capacity: 28-38 Liters
Weight: 1.6 kg
Size (expanded): 48.3 x 27.9 x 17.8 cm
If you are looking for something like the Tropicfeel Shell backpack to keep your belongings more organized but at a lesser price, you can consider the Solgaard Lifepack Endeavor.
Suitable for both daily use or travel, this is a highly innovative and uniquely crafted eco friendly travel backpack. The shoulder and sternum straps are well padded for optimum comfort.
Similar to the Tropicfeel Shell, the standout feature of this sustainable hiking backpack is its removable shelving system to easily hang your clothes in the closet without unpacking any items.
We love that the bag has given so much thought and attention to little things such as a sunglasses pocket, a shockproof compartment for laptops and a document storage space keeping all paper wrinkle free.
The expandable zipper allows you to accommodate so much more without wasting any space. The bag is constructed with upcycled ocean bound plastic and certainly built to last.
Capacity: 30L + 4 L
Size (expanded): 50 x 30 x 30 cm.
A versatile hiking backpack that can make the perfect companion for long trails and can also be utilised for daily use. The Vaude backpack allows you to fit up to 30L of items inside. You can add another 4L by simply unzipping the sides for more room.
The backpack's design allows you to carry a heavy load without any further stress on the body. You can even put the loops at the back for extra stability, which will bring the bag closer to your back.
If the sizing of the Tropicfeel Shell doesn’t quite fit your torso, the Vaude Wizard might be a great match for you as the shifting back length system integrated into the backpack allows the pack to be perfectly adjusted to your torso. The mesh aeroflex back is well ventilated and highly comfortable even on hot summer days.
If you want to take this backpack for a multi-day adventure, there is an opening for a hydration system with an outlet to fit a tube. The bag includes a front adjustment to hang a security light if needed.
For hiking, there is also an ice picker or pole holder integrated within the backpack. A rain cover is also included, which can be stored in a floor compartment when wet.
Waste plastic bottles are collected, cleaned, melted and processed to acquire high-quality yarn for the backpack. Certified with the Green Shape de Vaude label, each bag is guaranteed to be manufactured in an environmentally friendly way.
Capacity: 16 Litres
Weight: 590 g
Size (expanded): 40 x 30 x 15 cm
Fjallraven Foldsack No.1 is another contender for the best eco friendly backpacks. However, keep in mind this is a smaller capacity backpack fitting only 16L capacity.
Flaunting a minimalistic yet classic look, this is a unisex backpack suitable for anyone. The Fjallraven foldsack no.1 backpack features a flap on the top, which gives access to a spacious main compartment to place a 15inch laptop and other belongings. Any smaller items can be kept in the zipper pocket in the front.
The bag consists of extra solid G-1000 HeavyDuty fabric construction, which will ensure your backpack will last you for many years to come. Foldsack No.1 is water resistant and you can always add an extra coating to make it waterproof. You will receive a two years warranty with the pack.
Fjallraven firmly believes that with sustainable materials and reusing, repairing, and recycling, nature can be considered 'forever in our hearts. They have strict animal cruelty policies in place.
The company is committed to ensuring the environmental footprint is as small as possible when designing and manufacturing the bags.
Available in four neutral colours, if you want an everyday bag with less capacity than the shell, this is a stylish, simple and no fuss sustainable backpack that might be more suitable for you.
Capacity: 23 Litres
Weight: 0.7 kg
Size (expanded): 47 x 30 x 27cm
A sturdy backpack that is perfect for everyday use or weekend trips, even including a fleece lined sunglasses pocket for hot days.
This compact nylon backpack has a trendy look with a large storage capacity and includes many interior pockets to keep your belongings. A laptop compartment is also embedded in the main room, which will fit 15 or 17 inch laptops.
The back panel is made from ergonomic foam, and the shoulder straps contain breathable air mesh to ensure comfort and cosiness whilst you carry the backpack.
Enjoy the added peace of mind of knowing that the Dakine Limited Lifetime warranty covers this backpack if you encounter any issues with the bag.
Dakine has a strong stance on sustainability and has tied up with many local communities and locals to minimize the impact on the environment and advocate and work together with others harmoniously.
Capacity: 42 Litres
Size (expanded): 55cm (L) x 38cm (W) x 24cm (D)
Stubble & Co is a British brand that builds sturdy and durable bags which are highly efficient for travel or business purposes.
Not only do they look stylish, but they are manufactured from robust materials that are built to last you for a long time.
These eco-friendly backpacks open up like a suitcase, so you have to pack your belongings in the two sections. This might be inconvenient for many as there is no top access to quickly grab items out.
Some stand out features of this backpack includes a separate shoe compartment, foldable into more efficient storage and a clamshell design for easier packing.
Although it is on the expensive side, if you’re after a well-constructed bag that will make a great travel companion, you can consider this backpack as an option.
Capacity: 20 Litres
Size (expanded): 50 cm (L) x 35cm (W) x 7cm (D)
The Osprey Arcane Large sustainable backpacks are sleek, stylish and great for everyday use or for business purposes.
Osprey offers over ten vibrant colour options, with lots of internal organization pockets for storage. The padded compartments work well to store all electronic devices.
In terms of sustainability, the backpack is manufactured using certified recycled textiles and recycled plastic bottles are used during the production process.
If you have pets, unfortunately, the bag's material does pick up lint, dust and pet hair which can be frustrating, but it can easily be brushed off.
The Osprey Arcane packs are not waterproof; you will need to purchase an additional rain cover for protection.
Weight: 1.5 kg
Size (expanded): 63cm(H) x 29cm (W) x 21cm (D)
In terms of organization, the bag is really functional. There is a quick-access pocket on the top, a hidden pocket at the back and a vertical zipper to open the laptop compartment.
These sustainable backpacks are made of recycled PET bottles. The main fabric is 100% polyester with a PFC- free coating on the outside layer and a PU coating inside for waterproofing.
The outside fabric feels quite lovely as it has a linen type texture, and the size of the backpack is adjustable via the rolling top.
Although the Wayks one is an impressive backpack, a disadvantage is all the additional costs for attachments such as the cube compact (to make the backpack larger), mat strap and rain and luggage cover.
Capacity: 22 Liters
Size (expanded): 45cm (H) x 30cm (W) x 15cm (D)
United by Blue offers another 22L functional backpack which is 100% vegan and made from recycled plastic bottles.
This is one of the eco-friendly backpacks that are good value for money to hold all your essentials.
It is water-resistant and stain-resistant, making it a great outdoor hiking bag. There are many pockets and spaces inside for internal storage.
Other benefits include a side pocket for your water bottle, umbrella or any muddy shoes you may want to carry separately.
Overall an incredibly well-made sustainable backpack that will no doubt last you a long time.
Capacity: 32 Litres
Weight: 810 g
Size (expanded): 56 x 27 x 17cm
If you’re after one of the sustainable backpacks, the Patagonia Black hole 32L is a lightweight and durable backpack perfect for outdoor adventures.
Its rugged and water-resistant exterior makes it a perfect backpack to use if you are going to encounter adverse weather conditions.
The well-padded shoulder strap, sternum belt and back panel for easy airflow and breathability all work together to make the backpack exceptionally comfortable for users.
You will have easy access to all your belongings with a roomy main compartment. It also features a protective laptop sleeve. There are also interior zipped mesh pockets to store your smaller belongings such as keys, wallets or phones.
All the materials for this bag have been made from 100% Recycled Fabric. Patagonia is a very environmentally conscious brand but still ensures all products are made with the highest quality.
Capacity: 50L, 38L or 28 Litres
Size (expanded): 71 (H) x 34 (W) x 30 (D) cm
A cleverly designed versatile backpack that is interchangeable between a small and large bag depending on what you are using it for.
Built to last with a solid construction, the Kathmandu Federate Adapt is easily interchangeable between a 50L check-in bag, a 38L carry on bag or a 28L backpack for daily use.
If you choose to use this bag as a check-in bag, the back panel can actually hide entirely, and you can carry it from the side.
Many users confirm the backpack is exceptionally comfortable. It features Lumbar support and padded straps with mesh fabric at the back for extra breathability.
The material used to create the bag is recycled polyester. Kathmandu is a company committed to producing entirely sustainable outdoor gear. The material used for the bag is 100% recycled polyester.
Capacity: 15 - 20 Litres
Size (expanded): 60 cm (H) x 26 cm (W) x 13.5 cm (D)
Enjoy this easily convertible bag, a simple yet well-equipped bag that is great for city use and outdoor adventures.
Although this backpack is pricey, it’s essential to know that each bag is handcrafted with lots of time and skill in the UK. The sustainable materials used to create the pack aren’t so easy to source. The founder of the company strongly believes in supporting local businesses.
The rolltop allows you to fit quite a lot of items. You have the option of either clipping the belt and leaving it rolled if you wish to use it as a daypack. Otherwise, you can expand the backpack if you want to fit more things.
The backpack features a waxed cotton outer shell making it highly waterproof. The cushioned straps are adjustable, offering extra lumbar support. The two side pouches are handy to fit your water bottles.
Don’t be alarmed about any material or workmanship defects; these can be repaired free of charge as the company offers a lifetime of repair services.
Size (expanded): 40cm (H) x 30cm (W) x 12.7cm (D)
The Terra Threads backpack is one of the eco-friendly backpacks which is trendy and versatile. It can be used for school or college as well as travelling or hiking!
This backpack is crafted with high-quality materials and is available in a range of vibrant colours. The best part is that you can purchase this backpack at quite an affordable price.
It features a padded laptop sleeve for extra safety, a large front pocket with a zipper, a hanging pocket on the interior and two side pockets to store your water bottle.
In terms of sustainability, all the backpacks are made from 100% Fairtrade GOTS organic cotton canvas. The company manufactures all their products at a Fair Trade USA certified factory in India.
We love most about this backpack because, for every backpack purchased, Terra Thread will donate enough money to Feeding America, which will provide 20 meals to seniors, families, or children in need.
Capacity: 26 L
Weight: 0.45 kg
Size (expanded): 42 x 33 x 21 cm
This JanSport Superbreak backpack is quite popular amongst the younger crowd! It makes a great bag for school or daily commute.
The capacity is only 26L, so we don’t recommend this for long hiking trips.
Made from 100% polyester, the material might wear out over time. Although, Every JanSport backpack does come with a lifetime warranty for extra peace of mind.
The backpack is easy to use and convenient to use. You can choose from 5 different colours.
The backpack doesn't have any extra features. Overall, a simple lightweight option if you’re looking for one of the sustainable backpacks that won’t break the bank.
Capacity: 16L to 35L
Size (expanded): 30 x 20 x 59 cm
This Mobius backpack is relatively new to the market and is a great functional backpack with a large capacity of 35L.
The main compartment of the bag opens in two ways. You can use the rolltop opening at the top of the bag or the clamshell opening. A padded laptop is located inside to keep your belongings secure.
The front compartments also comes with many pockets so you can organize all your smaller items. Some users do wish that this backpack came with waist straps, so it is easier to distribute the weight.
Sustainability is embedded in every aspect of production. These eco-friendly backpacks are made from 100% REPREVE® fabric, which is a form of fibre made from entirely recycled materials, including 31 plastic bottles.
The padding of the backpack is made by collecting all extra algae, which in turn helps clean our environment. Tentree also plants ten trees for every item purchased!
There are so many eco-friendly backpack brands out there it requires hours of research to try and find the very best one!
We highly recommend the Tropicfeel Shell Backpack as the best sustainable backpack as it is high quality and sure to last you many years.
Everyone has their own preferences, so we hope you found this guide helpful in choosing the best eco-friendly backpack that suits your needs and lifestyle.