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black leather purse backpack by Elk
04 May
black leather purse backpack by Elk

The Ultimate Guide to More Sustainable Backpacks

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Our editors rounded up some of the top-performing more sustainable backpacks across technical and casual styles, made by better brands conscious of their impacts on people, the planet, and animals.

Boring backpacks are a thing of the past

For many of us, the backpack has been a part of our lives since we were kids, accompanying us on our worst and best days. While some argued that this student staple would soon be a thing of the past with the dawn of iPads and electronic textbooks, the global backpack market has continued to grow and is forecast to reach a value of 20.4 billion US dollars by 2024. While some students and workers have ditched this familiar must-have for a street-style tote bag, others just can’t seem to find an accessory as ubiquitous or useful.

Aside from fulfilling our scholarly or office needs, backpacks also make great companions for hiking, as well as other outdoor activities, carrying snacks, water, and other gear. But finding the perfect bag that meets all of our needs and suits our style can be a challenge. For some, the costs of leather are not worth it, demonstrating the need for better, more ethical and sustainable alternatives. Regardless of how you see it, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite more sustainable backpacks that are kind to people and the planet, with plenty of vegan options too.

Technical backpacks


Rated: Good
black sustainable backpack by GROUNDTRUTH

Sustainable RIKR 24L Backpack – Ships internationally from the UK

People. Planet. Performance. GROUNDTRUTH is a British brand that is all about harnessing new technologies to create a range of 100% recycled products. The award winning, more sustainable RIKR 24L recycled backpack is designed for contemporary travel and tailored as an everyday backpack for both city life and the great outdoors. With a clamshell opening, a separate laptop compartment, side access, and a trolley sleeve, this versatile backpack is airport security appropriate and adapts to meet the challenges of every journey.

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Rated: Good
A light green and grey recycled polyester technical backpack made by Sandqvist.

BERNT – Ships internationally from Sweden

Sweden’s Sandqvist embodies contemporary form and innovation. A member of the Fair Wear Foundation, the brand makes a range of stylish, everyday bags from backpacks to handbags. BERNT is a water-resistant and functional backpack from Sandqvist’s Urban Outdoor series. Constructed with Cordura® EcoMade polyester and leather patch details, this bag is versatile and can carry up to 20L. While this option does include animal products, the brand carries a great vegan bags range as well.

See the rating.

Shop Sandqvist.

Shop Sandqvist Pre-Owned @ Vestiaire Collective.


Rated: Great
A black recycled nylon backpack for adventures, made by Sealand.

Recycled Rowlie Backpack – Ships internationally from South Africa

Rooted in Cape Town’s southern peninsula, Sealand is a brand that believes in smart material selection, compelling functionality, and product durability. In line with the brand’s ethos, the Recycled Rowlie Backpack is made from nylon waste that has been through a radical regeneration and purification process. The reworked roll-top design is perfect to hold adventure gear and trail accessories.

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Shop Sealand.

Ucon Acrobatics

Rated: Good
A forest green recycled PET mini Hajo more sustainable backpack by Ucon Acrobatics.

Hajo Mini Backpack – Ships internationally from Germany

Minimalist more sustainable backpacks suitable for any occasion. Waterproof, PETA-approved vegan, and PVF/PVC free, this mini backpack is the epitome of nature-inspired practicality. The fluorocarbon-free PU outer coating makes the material waterproof and gives the product a modern and contemporary aesthetic. What’s more, its roll-top system and hook and loop fastener allows for scaled capacity.

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Shop Ucon Acrobatics.


Rated: Great
A light grey recycled polyester backpack for bike trips by pinqponq.

Komut Medium Bike Pack – Ships within Europe from Germany

pinqponq is a German brand that makes stylish and functional bags out of recycled plastic. It sources materials under the Fair Wear Foundation Code of Conduct and traces all of its supply chain. 100% vegan, the Komut Medium is the one of the most ideal more sustainable backpacks for bike commuters. Those who pack minimally can also use the backpack in form of a hand luggage, which can be expanded to a capacity of 37 litres for short city trips. The ripstop fabric is tear-resistant and ultra-durable.

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Shop pinqponq.


Rated: Good
A green and red recycled polyester responsibly-made backpack by Ecoalf.

Baku Backpack – Ships internationally from Spain

Thanks to recycled materials like rescued ocean plastic, Ecoalf creates responsible fashion with the same quality, design, and technical properties as the best non-recycled ones. Vegan and PFC free, the recycled Baku backpack is designed to be your travel companion while you explore and look after nature. Made from 100% recycled polyester and nylon, these more sustainable backpacks offer large storage space and feature several zip compartments so you can organise your items in multiple ways.

See the rating.

Shop Ecoalf @ Farfetch.

Shop Ecoalf.


Rated: Good
black vegan and earth-friendly backpacks by tentree

Mobius 35L Backpack – Ships internationally from Canada

Canadian brand tentree believes big change starts small. The brand plants ten trees for every item purchased to help regenerate ecosystems and provide planting jobs in communities around the world, and has already planted over 65 million trees. All tentree’s products are created with an Earth-First approach, meaning they’re made in fair, safe working conditions, and constructed using more sustainably sourced and recycled materials.

This 4-in-1 backpack is packed with lower-impact materials. From the main body’s 100% recycled polyester fabric to the zippers and trims, this multi-litre backpack is kinder to the environment while functioning for everyday life.

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Shop tentree.

The Level Collective

Rated: Good
A mustard yellow responsibly-made roll-top backpack by The Level Collective.

Winnats Roll Top – Ships internationally from the UK

Aiming to live level. The Level Collective is a British lifestyle brand that seeks a balanced life by being fair to others and to our planet—where freedom meets responsibility. The brand’s roll-top more sustainable backpacks do just that, combining elevated form and function to create an everyday backpack for the commute and wildness pursuit. Each roll-top is handmade in the UK and features weatherproof waxed organic cotton outer shells.

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Shop The Level Collective.


Rated: Good
green hiking backpacks by Vaude brand

Magus 20 Hiking Backpack– Ships internationally from Germany

Vaude is a European, family-run outdoor wear brand that responsibly produces clothes and materials for the outdoors, using responsible materials, like recycled fabrics. It is also a member of the Fair Wear Foundation and has a Code of Conduct which covers all of the ILO Four Fundamental Freedom principles. The Magus 20 is perfect for hikers, featuring a new, innovative Aeroflex 3D suspension that helps the pack sit comfortably on your hips with optimal ventilation for strenuous tours. Better yet, this backpack is beautifully constructed from lower-impact bluesign® certified materials.

See the rating.


Casual backpacks

Sans Beast

Rated: Good
A black vegan apple leather backpack made by Sans Beast.

Journey Totepack – Ships internationally from the Australia

Founded in 2018 with the sole purpose of delivering pieces that had beauty without the beast, Sans Beast is an Australian accessories brand creating luxury vegan bags and accessories entirely cruelty-free. They are particular about their sourcing, using materials like Global Recycled Standard certified materials, and innovative plant-based leathers made from cactus and apple. Their Journey Totepack has all the style without the harm, and is made from luxe Italian AppleSkin™ material.

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Shop Sans Beast.

Parker Clay

Rated: Good

Mari Backpack – Ships internationally from the US

A bag that saves lives? You got it. Parker Clay is an American based brand looking to create a future without exploitation by bettering lives and communities in Ethiopia. The brand has partnered with Ellilta Women at Risk program, fighting to bring women out of prostitution by providing a more stable income and safe working environment. Parker Clay also helps preserve traditional Ethiopian techniques, materials, and styles, ensuring that this fast growing country is able to remain close to its beautiful roots. The Mari backpack is a classic black leather piece designed for parents on the go.

See the rating.

Shop Parker Clay.


Rated: Good
A vegan cognac casual backpack made by NOAH.

Unisex Vegan Backpack – Ships internationally from Germany

NOAH creates cruelty-free and 100% vegan shoes and accessories. In line with the brand’s ethos is this super stylish, two-colour tote backpack made from a mix of micronappa, microsuede, and polytex mesh. Ideal for students, business trips, or as a smart accessory on your next city tour, this backpack will be sure to meet all your needs.

See the rating.

Shop NOAH.


Rated: Great
image of backpack strap inner side and someone wearing Nara backpack by Thela

Nara Backpack – Ships internationally from Greece



Théla – Site-wide

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Ticking all the boxes with its handy inner and outer pockets, organic cotton canvas lining, and an inner laptop sleeve, the Nara backpack features zippers made from recycled plastic and is entirely vegan. From waste to yarn to you, Greek brand Théla creates handcrafted fashion and lifestyle accessories from plastic waste. Made using approximately 65 discarded plastic bags, this anti-waste urban backpack is your everyday, conscious choice.

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Shop Théla.


Rated: It's A Start
A colourful upcycled plastic bag backpack responsibly made by Up-Fuse.

City Twin Backpack – Ships internationally from Egypt

Up-Fuse is a Cairo-based social enterprise that provides jobs for female refugees in Egypt through its work. In its signature style and available in multiple colours and patterns, the bestselling City Twin backpack is handmade using 30 recycled plastic bags. With its inner and back pockets and a padded laptop pocket too, this unique piece fits all your everyday needs.

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Shop Up-Fuse.

O My Bag

Rated: Good
A black and camel organic cotton canvas and leather backpack by O My Bag.

Billie’s Backpack – Ships internationally from the Netherlands

Looking for a stylish lightweight city backpack, but with a responsible ethos? Look no further. O My Bag’s Billie Backpack is gorgeously crafted in organic cotton canvas and premium quality leather that is tanned without the use of harmful chemicals or synthetics. This kind of leather is sturdy and will age beautifully over time. Oh, and if your bag needs a little TLC, check out the brand’s care and repair program. Vegans and vegan fashion lovers should opt for another option on this list as O My Bag products are all made with animal leather.

See the rating.

Shop O My Bag.


Rated: Good
cream vegan purse backpack by Svala

Gemma Backpack Purse in Cream – Ships internationally from the US

The Gemma backpack purse is an elegant and versatile bag that can be worn as a backpack or handbag by adjusting the removable straps. This convertible bag is polished enough to be dressed up or down and is handcrafted with high-quality, luxurious Italian vegan leather.

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Shop Svala.


Rated: Good
A mini black cotton and apple leather vegan backpack by NAE.

Ame Apple Leather Bag – Ships internationally from Portugal

NAE is a Portuguese footwear and accessories brand that uses innovative materials to create goods with “No Animal Exploitation.” The Ame backpack is a minimalist and miniature vegan bag made of apple leather and organic cotton. It’s the perfect size for your essentials, so you can go about your day with your hands free.

See the rating.

Shop NAE.

Shop NAE @ Urbankissed.


Rated: Good
leather purse backpacks by Elk

Forde Backpack – Ships within Australia

Elk is an Australian brand that believes in quality leather goods. The brand utilises specialised tanning techniques using predominantly vegetable or semi-vegetable dyes to create what has become a signature Elk look. The finishes are natural, and colours and hues are inspired by nature. The Forde Leather Backpack follows this very ethos, created with versatility and functionality in mind. Crafted from cow leather, it is incredibly soft and sure to last a lifetime. There is also a vegan-friendly bag selection if you prefer your backpacks free from animal-derived materials.

See the rating.

Shop Elk.

Stella McCartney

Rated: Good
fashionable vegan backpacks by Stella McCartney

Falabella Logo Go Backpack – Ships internationally from the UK

A member of the Ethical Trading Initiative, Stella McCartney has set some excellent environmental standards across the luxury fashion industry. This sleek backpack features the Stella McCartney 2001 logo and is catered towards the brand’s cruelty-free ethos. Made from 100% ECONYL® recycled nylon, this recycled beauty blends organization and style all in one place. Stella has also adopted the ETI Code of Conduct that includes a living wage definition.

See the rating.

Shop Stella McCartney @ LVR Sustainable.

Shop Stella McCartney Kids Pre-Owned @ Retykle.

Shop Stella McCartney Pre-Owned @ Vestiaire Collective.

Shop Stella McCartney.


Rated: Good
side view and back view of person wearing Wright Econyl Backpack by BEDI

Wright Econyl Backpack – Ships internationally from Canada

Canadian brand BEDI creates handmade bags, knits, and outerwear driven by a creative ethos to wear a better tomorrow. This unique, boxy backpack is sleek, modern, and full of functionality. It is thoughtfully designed throughout, starting with its ECONYL® water repellent fabric from discarded fishnets ,to its Repreve® twill lining from polyester waste. Featuring a laptop compartment and extra pockets to boot, BEDI shows us how better backpacks are done.

See the rating.

Shop BEDI.


Rated: Good
black technical backpacks by RAEBURN

SI X RUCKSACK – Ships internationally from the UK

UK-based RÆBURN is changing the world through responsible design. The brand’s philosophy has its origins in innovation with military materials and utilitarian clothing, ingeniously crafting pieces like wool field jackets from nylon parachute canopies. In line with this ethos is the Standard Issue X more sustainable backpack that has been produced in 100% certified RÆCYCLED polyester made from RÆCYCLED PET plastic bottles.

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Shop RÆBURN @ Farfetch.



Rated: Good
navy roll top backpack by Komodo

Backpack Ansvar I Blue – Ships internationally from the UK

UK brand Komodo puts people and the planet first with its responsibly-sourced and lower-impact range of menswear and womenswear. The label uses some responsible materials including GOTS-certified cotton and hemp, and ensures that most of its suppliers pay a living wage to their workers. This Ansvar backpack is certified by both the Fairtrade Standard and the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS).

See the rating.

Shop Komodo @ Immaculate Vegan.

Shop Komodo.

Editor's note

Feature image via Elk, all other images via brands mentioned. Good On You publishes the world’s most comprehensive ratings of fashion brands’ impact on people, the planet, and animals. We love to recommend some of the best more sustainable brands, rated "Good" or "Great". We also encourage shopping pre-owned as another great way to reduce the impact of your fashion choices. Use our directory to search thousands of rated brands.

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