10 Must-Have Sustainable Backpacks for Eco-Conscious Travelers (2024)

Derek Ma Feb 15, 2024
24 People Read
Table of Contents
  1. What to Look for in a Sustainable Backpack
    1. 1. Materials
    2. 2. Manufacturing Process
    3. 3. Durability
    4. 4. Social Responsibility
  2. 1. United by Blue
    1. Key Qualities:
  3. 2. Osprey Backpack
    1. Key Qualities:
  4. 3. Patagonia
    1. Key Qualities:
  5. 4. Terra Thread
    1. Key Qualities:
  6. 5. Cotopaxi
    1. Key Qualities:
  7. 6. Lo & Sons
    1. Key Qualities:
  8. 7. Solgaard
    1. Key Qualities:
  9. 8. Elvis and Kresse
    1. Key Qualities:
  10. 9. Tentree
    1. Key Qualities:
  11. 10. Fjällräven (Raven 28 Model)
    1. Key Qualities:
  12. Why You Should Trust My Website:
  13. Final Thoughts on Sustainable Backpacks

A backpack is an essential companion for any traveler when exploring the world.


It not only holds our belongings but also symbolizes the spirit of adventure. 


However, as we become more conscious of our environmental impact, it's time to reconsider the backpacks we choose to carry on our journeys.  


Traditional backpacks are often made from materials harmful to the environment and contribute to the ever-growing pollution problem.


The production of these traditional backpacks involves using non-renewable resources, such as petroleum-based fabrics like nylon and polyester, which have a significant carbon footprint.


In this blog post, we will introduce you to ten outstanding brands that offer sustainable backpacks worth investing in that will elevate your travel experience for your next adventure.


What to Look for in a Sustainable Backpack


1. Materials

Look for backpacks made from eco-friendly materials, such as recycled plastics or organic fibers. These materials have a lower environmental impact and reduce the need for new resource extraction. 

2. Manufacturing Process

Consider brands that prioritize responsible manufacturing practices. Look for certifications such as Fair Trade or Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) as ethical and sustainable production indicators.


The Fair Trade Certified label ensures that the brand supports fair wages, safe working conditions, and sustainable farming practices. 


The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certification ensures that the brand uses organic fibers and follows strict environmental and social criteria in its production processes.


Sustainable brands should be open and honest about their manufacturing processes, sourcing, and the impact they have on communities.

3. Durability

Opt for backpacks that are built to last. A durable backpack will ensure that you don't need to replace it frequently, reducing waste and extending the product's lifespan.  


In the era of fast fashion and disposable products, we must shift our focus toward brands that prioritize longevity and durability. 


These qualities contribute to reducing waste and offer economic benefits to consumers.

Several of the Backpacks listed later in this blog post offer free or minimal costs for repairs and replacements.

4.  Social Responsibility


When searching for sustainable brands, it is essential to consider their social responsibility initiatives. Sustainable brands should not only focus on environmental conservation but also strive to impact society positively.


Brands that support local communities through various initiatives, such as donating a portion of their profits to charitable causes or partnering with non-profit organizations, demonstrate a solid commitment to social responsibility.


By selecting brands that prioritize social responsibility, consumers can make a conscious choice to support companies that align with their values and contribute to a more sustainable and equitable future.



United By Blue Backpack

1. United by Blue


Price: $44 - 159

For: Outdoors and backpacking


United by Blue backpacks are not just any ordinary backpacks. They are a symbol of environmental consciousness, a statement of style, and a commitment to making a difference in the world.


With their unique blend of functionality, durability, and sustainability, United by Blue backpacks has taken the market by storm.

 

Over thirty-eight million pounds of trash are dumped daily into the ocean.  United by Blue is a sustainable apparel company that is actively trying to solve this problem.

  

For every product that is purchased, they will remove one pound of trash from oceans and waterways.  So far, they have removed over 3,600,000 pounds of trash.


United by Blue uses old recycled bottles as material for their backpacks.  The company also uses recycled and organic cotton, recycled polyester, nylon, cashmere, and wool, and Corozoa tree nuts for buttons.


Key Qualities:

  • Sustainably produced in Vietnam

  • Water and stain-resistant (DWR coating)

  • Made from recycled bottles

  • 60% recycled nylon, 40% recycled polyester air mesh padding

  • Padded adjustable shoulder straps

  • 100% recycled nylon webbing straps

  • 100% plastic-free direct-to-consumer shipments


Osprey Backpack

2. Osprey Backpack


Price: $190 - 700

For: Outdoors and backpacking


Osprey share a common belief that adventure is open to everyone and found anywhere.


With their dedication to quality, functionality, and innovation, Osprey backpacks have become the go-to choice for adventurers around the world for over forty-five years. 


Whether you're an avid hiker, a seasoned traveler, or a weekend warrior, Osprey has a backpack designed to meet your specific needs.


They have a Packfinder tool that can help you find the perfect pack to fit your needs.


Narrowing down the packs to if you are male, female, or youth and what primary activity you are using it is for.


Materials:


Osprey uses recycled and blue sign-approved materials for their products.  Bluesign-approved materials are materials that meet strict ecological and toxicological requirements.


Additionally, the company uses 100% recycled and recyclable polybags for its packaging. They also use recycled or Forest Stewardship Council-certified cartons and hangtags.


Chemicals:


Certain chemicals are necessary to create their high-quality products, however, Osprey has adopted the Bluesign restricted substances list.  In other words, certain chemicals are forbidden or limited during manufacturing or in the finished products. 


Social Responsibility:


Osprey supports social and environmental policy and programs through direct contributions, advocacy, and programs that extend the life of a product.


All Mighty Guarantee - Osprey will repair any damage or defect for any reason free of charge - regardless of when it was purchased.


The company has implemented a factory code of conduct that is based on the Ethical Trade Initiative that guarantees minimum wage, maximum work week, health and safety, and the right to unionize.

Key Qualities:

  • Blue-sign approved materials

  • All Mighty Guarantee (repair any damage or defect for free)

  • Global Recycled Standard

  • Airscape Suspension - injection molded Airscape back panel for a breathable close-body fit

  • Integrated Raincover

  • Fit-on-the-Fly harness and hip belt (improved comfort and fine-tuned fit)

  • Zippered sleeping bag compartment

One of the key reasons why Osprey backpacks have gained such popularity is their exceptional build quality. 


Made from durable materials and featuring robust construction, these backpacks are built to withstand the rigors of the outdoors.


From rugged trails to bustling airport terminals, Osprey backpacks can handle it all, ensuring that your belongings stay safe and secure throughout your journey.


If you're in the market for a reliable and versatile backpack that can accompany you on all your outdoor escapades, look no further than Osprey backpacks. With their superior build quality, thoughtful design, and unbeatable comfort, Osprey has established itself as a leader in the world of outdoor gear. So, gear up and get ready to embark on your next adventure with an Osprey backpack by your side.



Patagonia Backpack

3. Patagonia


Price: $69 - 299

For: Outdoors and backpacking


When it comes to outdoor clothing that is both functional and environmentally friendly, Patagonia has established itself as a trailblazer in the industry.


Patagonia has made it their mission to produce clothing that not only meets the demands of outdoor adventurers but also minimizes harm to the environment. 


Their commitment to sustainability is evident in every aspect of their business, from materials to production methods. 


Patagonia places a strong emphasis on using recycled and organic materials, reducing waste, and supporting fair trade practices.



Key Qualities:

  • Weather-resistant

  • 100% recycled polyester

  • Ironclad Guarantee (return to store for a repair, replacement, or refund)

  • Part of the Waste Not Collection - made from leftover fabric

  • Fair Trade Certified Factories

  • 1% Percent for the Planet

  • B Corp Certified


Patagonia has been a member of 1% For The Planet since 1985.  As a member, Patagonia pledges 1% of its sales to preserving and restoring the natural environment.  They have donated over $140 million to domestic and international grassroots environmental groups.



Terrathread Backpack

4. Terra Thread


Price: $59 - 70

For: School and everyday use 


Terra Thread was created in response to the adverse effects of fast fashion and the lack of bags on the market that are made from natural fibers and materials instead of synthetic ones.  


Vik and Vizan Giri founded Terra Thread as a father-and-daughter duo.  They believe in taking environmental and social responsibility in all aspects of their business.  And from our research, they're succeeding.


Key Qualities:


  • Backpacks made with Fair Trade Organic Cotton

  • GOTS certified

  • Produced in a US Fair Trade Certified Factory

  • The parent company (Gallant International Inc) is a B-corp

  • Products are carbon neutral

  • Spacious and durable

  • Shipped and delivered free of plastic and unnecessary packaging

  • Zipper tape and thread are polyester - currently finding better solution

Fair-trade Organic Cotton:


Terra Thread uses Fairtrade Organic Certified cotton to make their backpacks.  In other words, the backpacks are made using certified cotton that ensures farmers have access to safe working environments and are paid a fair price.


Additionally, the cotton is produced by following certain organic agricultural standards, such as free of toxic chemicals (Pesticides/insecticides) and GMOs (genetically modified organisms).  


Lastly, Fairtrade encourages and empowers farmers to protect the natural environment as part of their farm management.  Meaning that farmers engage in sustainable practices and production that sustain soil health and preserve the ecosystem and wildlife. 


Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) Certified


Terra Thred backpacks are certified by GOTS, which means they are produced following stringent voluntary global standards throughout the manufacturing process. 


The GOTS also prohibits the use of toxic chemicals during the processing stages and sets strong labor provisions, such as the prohibition of child labor.


Fair Trade Certified Factory


Terra Thread products are made in a fair trade USA-certified factory.  This means that factory workers have access to a safe and democratic working environment.  Additionally, the certification ensures gender equality and legal and fair wages for the workers.


Carbon Neutral Products


Terra Thread is working on two carbon offset projects; the reforestation & afforestation project and the renewable energy project.


The reforestation and afforestation project takes degraded land that is owned by small-scale and underprivileged farmers and supports soil restoration by replanting the degraded land with trees.  The new trees also increase the forest cover and sequester carbon.


The renewable energy project is converting energy sources in Rajasthan, India away from fossil fuels.  They are replacing coal-fired thermal energy sources with three solar energy power plants.  

Cotopaxi Backpack


5. Cotopaxi


Price: $100 - 395

For: Backpacking, outdoors, and travel

Cotopaxi was inspired and named after an active volcano in the Ecuadorian region of the Andes.  


The founder, Dave Smith, grew up in Latin America and lived for several years in Ecuador. He developed a lasting reverence for the strong and hardworking people of the Andes.


The company has a creed of “Do Good.”  They see their business as a vehicle to make a positive impact.  


This is evident in their giving model, company culture, and sustainable products.


Good Design and Supply


Cotopaxi considers ethics during every phase of the product's lifecycle - from design to manufacturing and sale.   


The company is climate-certified neutral, which means they have offset their carbon footprint.  


Cotopaxi works with CarbonFund and BEF to purchase offsets from verified carbon offsetting projects.  


Projects such as the Los Eucaliptos Afforestation Project (Uruguay), Inner Mongolia Wu’erqihan IFM Project (Mongolia), and the Tribal Renewable Energy Stacked Offsets (USA).


Good Deeds


Each year, Cotopaxi donates and provides grants to various non-profits.  


They allocate 1% of their annual revenue to the Cotopaxi Foundation.  


The goals of this non-profit Foundation are to support global poverty alleviation, allow individuals and businesses to better support the Cotopaxi cause, and ensure that the company will remain a B corporation forever.


The Cotopaxi Foundation has awarded 42 grants in 6 different countries.


Good Guarantee 


Cotopaxi stands behind its products and provides a “good guarantee.”  If there is a problem with your backpack, they will happily repair it, replace it, or reward you for trading it in.


Key Qualities:


  • Timeliness - Products are classics and do not rely on trends

  • Simplistic design

  • Good Guarantee

  • Climate-Neutral Certified

  • (Re)Purpose Collection - Uses high-quality, remnant fabric that has been originally produced for another purpose. 

  • 100% Repurposed Nylon Body

  • No two packs are alike; employees have creative control over the backpack's final look

  • Made in the Philippines



Lo and Sons Backpack

6. Lo & Sons

Price: $142 - 173

For: Travel


Helena Lo started this bag company because she traveled frequently and had back problems.  


The current bag options were either too heavy, too frumpy, too techy, overpriced, and/or overdesigned.


With help from her two sons, Helena designed and created bags that were built to travel light without compromising functionality and style.  


Lo & Sons believe that businesses can actually lead the way in reversing environmental damages and creating innovative solutions.  


Their Recycled Poly Collection uses plastic bottle material.  On average, each bag recycles and uses 22 plastic bottles, keeping them from landfills.


Their Organic Canvas Collection uses organic cotton for its material.


Their Beacon Backpack is made from 37.4% recycled nylon.  Their goal is to move to 100% recycled nylon next year.


Key Qualities:

  • Organic cotton and recycled material 

  • Packaging is made from 100% recycled material and is 100% recyclable

  • Partners with Renewable Workshop (leading provider of circular solutions for apparel and textile brands)

  • Partners with Yale Center for Business and the Environment (CBEY) - Trains and empowers future leaders to develop business solutions to systematic environmental problems.

  • Partners with Kept SKU - Works with brands to create curated shopping boxes composed of a mix of unsold inventory that would otherwise be sent to a landfill.

Solgaard Backpack

7. Solgaard

Price: $115 - 265

For: Travel and everyday use


The company Solgaard started in 2016 after a friend's backpack was stolen.  


This incident got Adrianne Solgaard and his friends talking about what features would make a perfect backpack, such as solar power and anti-theft.


They have since created and designed several different lines of backpacks with different cool and unique features.


Fortunately, sustainability was also a feature that was considered for making the perfect backpack.

Key Qualities:

  • Backpacks made from recycled plastic water bottles

  • Lifepack Original - Solar Power and anti-theft

  • Bluetooth speakers

  • Retractable cable lock

  • B Corp Certified

  • Hanging closet for certain models

  • Drop-proof storage (laptop stays nice and cozy in its plush section)

  • Audit factories (all factories audited within last year)


For every item that they sell, they will remove a whopping 229 ocean-bound plastic bottles.  


Solgaard has partnered with four different groups located in the Philippines, Indonesia, China, and the U.S.  So far, they have pulled over twelve million plastic bottles.


The plastic bottles provide material (Shore-tex, Shore-plast, recycled polycarbonate) for their backpacks.  


  1. The plastic bottles collected from the beach and riverways 

  2. Bottles are sorted and cleaned 

  3. Plastic is broken down into flakes and pellets

  4. Flakes and pellets are stretched into yarn and wound up

  5. The material is woven into Shore-tex fabric



Elvis and K backpack

8. Elvis and Kresse


Price: $259 - 376

For: Everyday use


Elvis and Kresse believe that the future of luxury is sustainable, ethical, reclaimed, open, generous, and kind.


The company was founded in 2005 and has been rescuing raw materials and transforming them into luxury accessories 


What is most inspiring and amazing about this company is that they donate 50% of their profits back to charities.


The company is made up of three pillars; rescue, transform, and donate.


Rescue


The first material Elvis and Kresse reclaimed were London’s Fire Brigade’s decommissioned fire hoses.  


The hoses were destined for the landfill, but this company “rescued” them and gave them new life in new products.


Elvis and Kreese have created an obsession of discovering material that can be “rescued.”  


Some of the raw and unique materials that they now use are parachute silk, printing blankets, leather, coffee sacks, shoe boxes, tea sacks, and auction banners.


Transform


The material that they save, dictates what they will make and how they will make it.  For the rescued hoses, they scrubbed away the soot and grease and discovered an amazing green textile.  


They created a thoughtful and timeless design that honored this past life-saving material.


Donate


Elvis and Kresse donates up to 50% of their profits to charities related to the unique materials that they reclaim.


For instance, 50% of the profits made from the fire hose material products were donated to the Fire Fighters Charity.  


Donations have been made to the World Wildlife Fund, Help for Heroes, Comic Relief, the British Forces Foundation, and several others.


Key Qualities:

  • Backpacks and bags are made from reclaimed materials

  • Certified B Corporation

  • Certified Social Enterprise

  • Donates 50% of their profits to charities

  • Living Wage Employer

  • Exterior - a combination of rescued Burberry leather and decommissioned British fire-hoses

  • Lining - reclaimed military-grade parachute silk

  • Contemporary design

  • Repaired for Life


Tentree Backpack

9. Tentree


Price: $128

For: Everyday use


Tentree is committed to making choices in a world where the planet and its people come first.  


The company’s mission is to do better for our planet.  They are constantly looking for innovative ways to make apparel the smallest possible footprint and create more circular supply chains.


There are three ways Tentree is following through with its mission:


Sustainable Essentials


Tentree is committed to finding and sourcing the most sustainable fibers and materials available.  


Their products are made out of Tencel (wood pulp fiber), recycled polyester, organic cotton, and hemp.


Every item plants 10 trees


For each item that is purchased, 10 trees will be planted.  Their name makes sense now!  Tentree has a lofty goal of planting 1 billion trees by 2030!  


The company has partnered with Edens project, Tree Future, One Tree Planted, and Canada to plant trees and rehabilitate natural ecosystems.


They have planted trees in several countries around the world; Madagascar, Indonesia, Senegal, Nepal, Peru, Kenya, Haiti, Canada, Mexico, and Brazil.


A total of over fifty-eight million trees have been planted to date!


Ethical Manufacturing


The factories Tentree has partnered with are regularly audited to ensure compliance with the Tentree Code of Conduct and international labor standards.  


This includes making sure the workers are paid a living wage, ensured proper rest days, and access to essential insurance coverage.  


The company also has a Code of Conduct that ensures all the people who work with Tentree are respected, valued, and feel safe.  They require all their suppliers to sign and adhere to these guidelines.  


Key Qualities:

  • Made from cork, recycled polyester, and hemp

  • 10 trees are planted for every product purchased

  • Certified B Corporation

  • Climate-Neutral Certified

  • Recycled polyester lining

  • Recycled trims made from post-industrial waste

  • Bloom foam padded laptop sleeve



Fjallraven Backpack

10. Fjällräven (Raven 28 Model)


Price: $120

For: Hiking and everyday use


Fjallraven backpacks have gained immense popularity in recent years, becoming a staple among outdoor enthusiasts, travelers, and fashion-forward individuals alike. 


With their distinct Scandinavian design and exceptional durability, these backpacks have captured the attention of adventurers around the world.


Throughout the years, Fjallraven has stayed true to its commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility. 


In the early 1990s, the brand introduced G-1000, a unique fabric made from a blend of polyester and cotton. 


This fabric was not only highly durable but also environmentally friendly, as Greenland Wax could be applied to it to enhance its water and wind resistance. 


Fjallraven's dedication to sustainability has earned them numerous awards and recognition within the outdoor industry.

Key Qualities:

  • Sturdy zippers

  • Reinforced stitching

  • Scandanavian design

  • Ergonomic design (padded shoulder straps and supportive back panel

  • G-1000 fabric (Raven 28 Backback model only)

  • Lifetime repairs

  • Padded airmesh back panel and comfortable shoulder straps

  • Zippered inside security pockets



Why You Should Trust My Website:


First and foremost, my educational background and qualifications contribute to my credibility on the topics I cover. 


I hold a bachelor's and master's degree in environmental science and have spent years studying and researching to develop a deep understanding of sustainable products and brands.

 

This expertise allows me to provide accurate and well-informed content.


Furthermore, my professional experience in the environmental industry adds to my credibility. Over the years, I have gained practical experience and insights through working in the government and private environmental sectors.


This hands-on experience allows me to offer practical advice and solutions to the challenges my readers may face, making my content more relatable and trustworthy.


Final Thoughts on Sustainable Backpacks


Choosing a sustainable backpack isn't just an individual decision but a step towards creating a more eco-conscious society.


By opting for a backpack that aligns with our values, we can inspire others and encourage the adoption of sustainable practices. 


Together, we can positively impact the environment and promote responsible travel for generations to come.


Table of Contents
  1. What to Look for in a Sustainable Backpack
    1. 1. Materials
    2. 2. Manufacturing Process
    3. 3. Durability
    4. 4. Social Responsibility
  2. 1. United by Blue
    1. Key Qualities:
  3. 2. Osprey Backpack
    1. Key Qualities:
  4. 3. Patagonia
    1. Key Qualities:
  5. 4. Terra Thread
    1. Key Qualities:
  6. 5. Cotopaxi
    1. Key Qualities:
  7. 6. Lo & Sons
    1. Key Qualities:
  8. 7. Solgaard
    1. Key Qualities:
  9. 8. Elvis and Kresse
    1. Key Qualities:
  10. 9. Tentree
    1. Key Qualities:
  11. 10. Fjällräven (Raven 28 Model)
    1. Key Qualities:
  12. Why You Should Trust My Website:
  13. Final Thoughts on Sustainable Backpacks