On The Go: 15 sustainable backpacks for every occasion

Sustainable backpacks are functional, environmentally friendly and have style! We show what is important when buying and where the best backpacks are available

sustainable backpack
Source & Copyright by Pinqponq

Author: July Becker

Sustainable backpacks are alternatives to conventionally manufactured backpacks. The materials range from recycled polyester to vegetable tanned leather to more natural cotton. Numerous trend brands now offer fair and sustainable backpacks. But if you have the choice, you are spoiled for choice - here are tips on how to find the best backpack for your type and the best brands for sustainable backpacks.

Sustainable backpacks: hallmarks

There are a lot of backpacks out there, but only a handful are sustainable. What criteria are there for fair and sustainable backpacks? Basically, the same applies as for clothing: If the backpack is too cheap, it cannot actually have been produced ethically. Productions that are sustainable and socially justifiable are more costly and time-consuming than those of fast fashion. A backpack is therefore sustainable if it has one or at best several of the following properties:

  • Use of a sustainable and natural materials
  • Water, energy and CO2-efficient and resource-saving production
  • Good ergonomics and therefore good for the body
  • Fair trade and fair working conditions

Sustainable backpacks: You can trust these seals

But how can consumers be sure that they are really making a contribution to environmental protection? The answer lies in recognized quality seals that guarantee environmentally friendly production and materials. These top 5 seals for sustainable backpacks offer clear guidance:

  1. GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard): Backpacks with the GOTS seal are made from organically produced natural fibers and meet strict environmental and social criteria throughout the entire production process.
  2. Fair trade: This seal assures consumers that the backpacks were manufactured under ethical working conditions. It guarantees a fairly paid workforce and supports socially and environmentally friendly practices.
  3. Bluesign: Backpacks with the Bluesign seal are manufactured to the highest standards for environmental protection, consumer safety and resource efficiency. This seal ensures that harmful chemicals are eliminated from the entire manufacturing process.
  4. Oeko-Tex Standard 100: This seal ensures that the backpacks are free from harmful substances and are therefore safe for human health. It guarantees that the textile products have been tested for more than 100 harmful substances.
  5. PETA-Approved Vegan: Backpacks with this seal are 100% vegan, meaning they are made without animal products. This seal gives vegan consumers the assurance that they are purchasing an animal-friendly product.

Benefits for sustainable backpacks

Here are even more reasons why you should choose a sustainable backpack:

  1. Longevity due to high quality materials and processing
  2. Climate protection by dispensing with toxic adhesives and dyes
  3. Adequate working conditions and payments for artisans

Man on mountain sustainable backpacks

Find the right sustainable backpack - this is how it works:

The first question to ask yourself when buying a sustainable backpack is: What do I need this backpack for? As an everyday companion or as an elegant statement piece for the office? Should it be suitable for a short vacation or for a multi-day hiking trip in the wilderness? Different backpacks meet different needs. The following numbers therefore provide an overview of how much capacity a backpack should have in which situation:

  1. School as well as the university: A daypack with a capacity of 20 to 40 liters fits this.
  2. Gym: 10 to 35 liters are best here and the more sports equipment you need, the greater the capacity.
  3. To travel: A hiking backpack with a capacity of up to 80 liters is required for this occasion. These are far more ergonomic than daypacks and designed for longer wearing times.

Fabrics and materials for sustainable backpacks at a glance:

There are a wide variety of sustainable backpacks materials. Here are some advantages and disadvantages of recycled plastic, natural materials such as cotton or linen, organic leather and vegan leather:

Table with advantages and disadvantages for backpack material

Sustainable backpacks: Top 15 brands for every type and occasion

Whether sustainable backpacks for women, men or children - there are now many manufacturers on the market. Therefore, make sure to order directly from the manufacturer and avoid middlemen. Here are our 15 most beautiful brands for you. These include the classics like Patagonia and Vaude, but also a few insider tips:

  1. Ecoalf
  2. Patagonia
  3. sandqvist
  4. Ucon Acrobatics
  5. pinqponq
  6. Ethnotek
  7. Papero
  8. Oh my bag
  9. Satch
  10. Vaude
  11. aevor
  12. Souleway
  13. Friday
  14. Johnny Urban
  15. Airpak

1. Ecoalf

Ecoalf is a well-known label for sustainable fashion. The brand's range includes a huge selection of fair and sustainable backpacks in terms of size, occasion and design. Ecoalf works with recycled polyester from plastic bottles and recycled cotton. The company has been B-Corp certified since 2018 and is among the top 5% worldwide with its rating score.

ecoalf Sustainable backpacks made from econyl

Source & Copyright by Ecoalf

Company location: Spain

Highlights: The Ecoalf Foundation, which is committed to the (re) recycling of all types of waste

Where to buy: Im Ecoalf Online shop and in our own flagship stores worldwide

2. Patagonia

Patagonia is one of the most well-known outdoor equipment brands and a pioneer in sustainability. From daypacks to hiking backpacks, everyone will find something suitable. The backpacks from the Black Hole collection are made from 100% recycled plastic bottles. Other backpacks are made from recycled nylon. In addition, all backpacks are dyed with a solution that produces 96 percent less CO2 than conventional dyes.

Sustainable backpacks from patagonia

Source & Copyright by Patagonia

Company location: USA

Highlights: Patagonia is Fair Trade certified and donates more than one percent of sales to charity

Where to buy: Im Patagonia online store as well as in our own stores worldwide

3. Sandqvist

Sandqvist bags and backpacks are meant to be worn for a lifetime. That is the declared goal of the Swedish company. That's why there are repair shops where an outdated Sandqvist backpack can either be repaired or handed in for recycling. The design of the sustainable backpacks is timeless and varied at the same time. Sustainable cotton and vegetable-tanned leather are used as materials.

sustainable backpack

Source & Copyright by Sandqvist

Company location: Sweden

Highlights: The company's own repair shops

Where to buy: Im Sandqvist online shop with international delivery

4. Ucon Acrobatics

Ucon Acrobatics is a German start-up that produces vegan, minimalist backpacks from sustainable materials. You are an official partner of PETA, work together with the children's rights organization "Save the Children" and focus on sustainable entrepreneurship. Only ecologically recycled PET materials without AZO dyes and heavy metals are used. The backpacks are available in many different sizes, with capacities from 1 to 33 liters. This also includes casual cross-body bags in numerous colors.

Sustainable backpacks from Ucon Acrobatics

Source & Copyright by Ucon Acrobatics

Company location: Germany

Highlights: Minimalist style with a focus on sustainable entrepreneurship

Where to buy: Im Ucon Acrobatics online shop with EU delivery

5. Pinqponq

Pinqponq is a sustainable backpack and clothing brand from Cologne. In addition to responsibility, the design is characterized by high quality and functionality. Sustainable production and transparency within the supply chain are particularly important here. The sustainable backpacks are made from 100% recycled PET bottles. Also free from PFC and vegan, using an innovative method for dyeing the textiles.

Sustainable backpacks Pinqgponq

Source & Copyright by Pinqponq

Company location: Germany

Highlights: Timeless design, vegan, recycled material

Where to buy: Im Pinqponq online shop can be ordered directly

6. Ethnotec

Ethnotek is a social business with the aim of protecting the traditional culture of handmade textiles from extinction. With their designs they want to show the skills of artisans from Vietnam to a large audience. The company is B Corp certified. No harmful chemicals are used and all sustainable backpacks are also vegan. Social responsibility is also reflected in a cooperation with Social Water Viva con Agua.

Source & Copyright by Ethnotek

Company location: Germany

Highlights: Design reflects craftsmanship, vegan, fair

Where to buy: Im Ethnotek online shop Order directly and save on middlemen

7. Papero

That's the winner of the German Design Award and Green Product Award: A backpack made of paper. Unisex, washable and tear-resistant. Kraft paper is the basic raw material for this. Thus, pulp which is obtained from FSC-certified wood. The pulp is mixed with natural latex and gives the bags robustness and washability. The young brand's first delivery of bags was sold out within three months. With every purchase, donations are also made for the reforestation of forests.

Source & Copyright by Papero

Company location: Germany

Highlights: Made of cellulose, chemical-free, washable and recyclable

Where to buy: Im Papero online shop Order directly and save on middlemen

8. O My Bag

If you are looking for a noble leather backpack, you have come to the right place. O My Bag Amsterdam offers leather backpacks for men and women. Fairly made leather bags and accessories that respect the planet as well as people. The brand connects producers in small communities with the global market and thus creates fair working conditions. Promotion of women and 100% traceability as well as climate-neutral shipping.

Sustainable leather backpacks from Amsterdam

Source & Copyright by O My Bag

Company location: The Netherlands

Highlights: Noble leather backpacks, fairness and transparency

Where to buy: Im O My Bag online shop

9. Satch

Here's something for kids. This sustainable backpack for school children is a real eye-catcher. The brand combines function and design. Satch's ergonomic concept shifts weight to the stable pelvis, so that the back is protected. With the your-size system, each backpack can also be adjusted to fit your body size. You take responsibility with environmentally friendly and recycled materials. The brand group also includes Ergobag and Affenzahn, which offer backpacks for other young age groups.

Satch sustainable backpacks for children

Source & Copyright by Satch

Company location: Germany

Highlights: Ergonomic concept and grows with you

Where to buy: In the Satch online shop

10. VAUDE

The environmentally friendly backpacks from VAUDE Rucksäcke are made from recycled materials and are 100% PFC-free. The durable and sustainable backpacks can be used for any activity, be it hiking, trekking, traveling or just biking through the city. The offer ranges from unisex to men, women and children.

Source & Copyright by VAUDE

Company location: Germany

Highlights: Large offer for every activity and fit and online backpack advisor

Where to buy: Im VAUDE online shop

11. Aevor

Aevor offers many choices in their designs. Thanks to the high number of pockets and zippers, the backpack can also be used in many ways. An Aevor backpack is Fair Wear, bluesign, and Green Button certified and, with its modern roll-top design, is also perfect as a sustainable roll-top backpack.

Aevor sustainable backpack

Source & Copyright by Aevor

Company location: Germany

Highlights: Fair Wear, bluesign and green button certificate

Where to buy: Im Aevor Shop as well as in selected German stores

12. Souleway

Souleway products are made by hand in Hamburg and are made from 100% natural cotton. Nevertheless, the sustainable backpack is waterproof because it was treated with a PFC-free waterproofing method. The company's leather products are all vegetable tanned and are therefore produced in a way that is gentle on people and the environment. The products are also free of harmful substances, which is confirmed by the bluesign, GOTS and Oeko-Tex certificates.

Souleway sustainable backpack

Source & Copyright by Souleway

 

Company location: Germany

Highlights: 100% cotton natural and waterproof

Where to buy: On your Souleway website

13. Freitag

Freitag offers a diverse selection of all backpack models. All models are unique and consist of used truck tarpaulins, recycled PET bottles or unused airbags. In this way, the backpack brand supports the circular economy and ensures less waste of resources. Due to the wide selection of different models, these backpacks are also sustainable backpacks for both women and men.

Friday sustainable backpack reflected

Source & Copyright by Freitag

 

Company location: Schweiz

Highlights: Backpacks made from recycled materials

Where to buy: unter der Friday website as well as in selected stores

14. Sparrow

Sperling's backpacks are PETA approved and, thanks to their composition of cork and organic cotton, ensure a waterproof, sustainable backpack. The company attaches particular importance to fair and transparent production, for example in a workshop for the disabled in Germany or a small factory in India. In order to avoid plastic, the company also uses metal for its zippers and buckles. With every purchase of a product, a donation is also made to the Butenland animal welfare farm.

Sperling sustainable backpack

Source & Copyright by Sperling

 

Company location: Germany

Highlights: Fair and transparent production, donations to animal welfare farms

Where to buy: Im online-shop! and in selected German stores

15. Airpac

As the winner of the German sustainability award, Airpaq creates sustainable backpacks from car scrap. Combined with aesthetic design and useful functions for high-quality and robust products. By using these precious resources that already exist on our planet, the brand reduces waste and protects the environment. The products are also manufactured in the EU under fair and sustainable working conditions.

Source & Copyright: Airpaq

 

Company location: Germany

Highlights: Backpacks made from car scrap, airbags, belts

Where to buy: Only in Online-Shop available

Conclusion - purchase criteria for sustainable backpacks

In addition to the right size and the associated comfort of a backpack, there are a few things to consider so that you can enjoy your new backpack for a long time. The style should match your own style and be easy to combine. Most of the time, signs of wear and tear on backpacks appear first on the shoulder straps and straps. There should therefore be stable double seams there. At best, a manufacturer should be chosen who gives a guarantee on the backpack. The material from which the backpack is made should suit the occasion. So if you ride a lot of bicycles and like to get out in the rain, you should stay away from backpacks made of cotton and linen.


FAQ's:

What are sustainable backpacks?

Sustainable backpacks are environmentally friendly and ethically produced bags that use resource-saving materials and adhere to socially responsible production standards. They are also often made from recycled or biodegradable materials such as organic cotton, recycled polyester or vegan leather.

How do I find sustainable backpacks?

To find sustainable backpacks, consumers should first look for recognized quality seals, such as GOTS, Fair Trade Certified, Bluesign, Oeko-Tex Standard 100 or PETA-Approved Vegan. These seals guarantee environmentally friendly materials and ethical production practices.

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