The 9 Best Eco-Friendly Backpacks of 2021

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The Rundown
Made with 100% organic cotton great for everyday use.
A durable, affordable, everyday backpack.
An eco-friendly backpack friend that comes as either a fox, owl, or raccoon.
Save 25 gallons of water with this 100% upcycled laptop backpack.
Transform your backpack to a briefcase with this backpack made of recycled bottles.
Hike, walk, and travel with United by Blue’s Trek 22L Pack.
A versatile, waterproof backpack that is comfortable and great for traveling.
A sleek, lightweight, and vegan bag for a hassle-free carry.
An array of colors are available for Baggu’s casual drawstring backpack.

Sustainable fashion doesn't stop at clothes. When it comes to accessories like backpacks, you can look for bags made from recycled materials like cloth or even plastic bottles. You can also look for companies and brands that emit fewer greenhouse gases, partner with environmental organizations, implement sustainable practices, or are certified fair-trade corporations.

The following list includes brands that use these different strategies to make their products greener. These bags do cost more than backpacks that you may find at the mall or stores online, but they're more sustainable, ethically made, and have a longer life cycle, which is what is being reflected in the price.

Below, you'll find the best eco-friendly backpacks on the market.

Best Overall: Terra Thread Sustainable Backpacks for College and Everyday Use

Terra Thread Sustainable Backpacks for College and Everyday Use

Terra Thread’s backpacks may just be the best one out there, with five-star reviews that tout the high quality. The backpacks are made with 100 percent organic and Fairtrade cotton and are processed and manufactured with the Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS) in mind. GOTS is a worldwide textile processing standard made for organic fibers and takes social and ecological criteria into consideration. The dyes used for the backpack are also GOTS certified.

These backpacks are also carbon neutral. The company offsets around 52 pounds of CO2 by supporting reforestation and solar power projects in India. Every purchase also supports Feeding America, with one purchase contributing around 20 meals. Terra Thread’s parent company, Gallant, is also a Certified B Corporation. The backpack is great for everyday use and comes in 14 different colors. There is also a laptop pouch that can fit a 15-inch laptop, and the bag itself measures 16 x 12 x 5 inches.

Best Budget: Ecogear Mohave Tui II Backpack

Ecogear Mohave Tui Backpack

Ecogear’s Mohave Tui II backpack is ideal for those that are looking for an affordable, eco-friendly backpack. The pack has a rugged and sleek design that is good to use for both school or day travel. The pack is 18 x 12.5 x 6.5 inches, with mesh side pockets for water bottles, and padded straps for added comfort.

The backpack is made of Repreve recycled fiber. Repreve transforms recycled bottles into a durable yarn that was then used to create the fabric of Ecogear’s backpack. All of Ecogear's products come with a lifetime warranty.

Best for Kids: Apple Park Eco-Friendly Backpack

Apple Park Eco-Friendly Backpack

Give the kid in your life a ‘backpack pal’ as Apple Park’s Eco-Friendly Backpacks come in either a fox, raccoon, or owl. Apple Park’s backpacks are made with 100 percent recycled PET water-resistant fabric and save 24 plastic bottles from the landfill. Recycled PET is made by melting down existing plastic bottles and respun into a new polyester fiber that can be used for a variety of items. Recycled PET also decreases greenhouse gas emissions in comparison to manufacturing virgin polyester. 

The backpack includes padded fabric on the shoulder straps, a name tag on the back of the backpack, and Apple Park’s signature heart-shaped apple on the zipper. The company also has matching lunch boxes and eco-friendly goodies that you could pack in the backpack, as well as larger backpacks for older kids.

Best for Laptops: Looptworks Kasum Upcycled Laptop Backpack

Looptworks Kasum Upcycled Laptop Backpack

This backpack by Looptworks is 100 percent upcycled, meaning this pack is made from materials that were previously designated for landfill or recycling. Since the backpack is a low-impact product, it comes with a ‘Loopt4Life’ guarantee that the products can last a lifetime, especially seeing as the longer the product lasts, the less waste will be seen in the future. 

The Kasum backpack has a separate compartment that can fit laptops or tablets up to 15 inches, as well as other slots and pockets to make storage and organization easier for you. The bag has padded handles and straps and measures 12 x 17 x 7.5 inches.

Best for Work: Solo New York Re:Utilize Backpack Briefcase

Solo New York Re:Utilize Backpack Briefcase

Transform your backpack into a briefcase with Solo New York’s Re:Utilize hybrid pack. The Re:Cycled collection, which includes the backpack briefcase, is made from Recycled PET Polyester yarn, which uses 50% less energy, 20% less water, and emits 60 percent less air pollution than regular polyester yarn. The padded laptop compartment can hold laptops up to 15 inches. It has two strap options: An adjustable shoulder strap and hideaway backpack straps that are padded for comfort.

Solo New York has committed to reducing its carbon footprint by attempting to recycle 40,000,000 plastic bottles by 2024 and implementing solar energy in some of the company’s headquarters. They have even partnered with the National Forest Foundation to help restore the nation’s forests.

Best for Hiking: United by Blue (R)evolution™ 22L Trek Pack

United by Blue (R)evolution™ 22L Trek Pack

For hiking and daily wear, the (R)evolution™ 22L Trek Pack by United by Blue is the way to go. The pack is made from recycled plastic bottles and is 100 percent vegan. The pack has expandable water bottle pockets and has a padded laptop sleeve made for laptops up to 15 inches. The back also features plenty of loops for clipping extra gear to the outside and a sternum strap for extra support on the trails.

Each product purchased by United by Blue removes one pound of trash from oceans and waterways, and so far the company has removed over 3 million pounds of trash. The products by United by Blue are also made in GOTS-certified factories, and the company is a Certified B Corporation.

Best Waterproof: Fjällräven High Coast Foldsack

Fjällräven High Coast Foldsack

Fjällräven’s High Coast Fold Sack is perfect for day trips or traveling, as it is light and 100 percent waterproof. Though the seams and zipper are not water-resistant, the main fabric is water-resistant and offers good protection against rain. It also has detachable chest and hip straps.

The fabric itself is made from 100 percent recycled nylon. The fold-over top of this pack allows you to make more space in the main compartment of the pack. The pack allows space for a 15-inch laptop and has various interior and exterior pockets that are easily accessible. Fjällräven uses a number of sustainable manufacturing strategies and has a goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2025. It's also a member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition.

Best Vegan: United by Blue 15L Commuter Backpack

United by Blue 15L Commuter Backpack

Another pick from United by Blue, the commuter backpack is also 100 percent vegan and made from recycled plastic bottles. It's is a sleek and lightweight everyday carry. This backpack has a padded interior laptop sleep that has a flap and can hold a laptop up to 13 inches. 

The pack is also water-resistant and stain-resistant and comes with a lifetime guarantee. When a backpack is purchased, you must register the bag with United by Blue, that way if any problem occurs or you need a repair, United by Blue can take care of it (though general wear and tear are not included in this).

Best Drawstring: Baggu Drawstring Backpack

Baggu Drawstring Backpack

If you are looking for a small backpack that can carry your essentials and is comfortable to wear daily, Baggu’s Drawstring backpacks are a great option. The bags are made from recycled cotton canvas, and the cotton fibers come from other cotton products that would have gone to the landfill, like t-shirts or socks.

If your bag wears out, you can recycle it by dropping it off at one of the store's locations or ship the bag to them. The company partners with American Textile Recycling Services, which is committed to keeping the textiles out of landfills, so any canvas bags they get will be recycled, repurposed, or donated.

Final Verdict

Treehugger’s top pick for an everyday bag is the Terra Thread Sustainable Backpack, which is made with organic cotton and is carbon neutral (view on Etsy). If you’re looking for something to take hiking, check out the (R)evolution 22L Trek Pack (view on United by Blue). 

Why Trust Treehugger?

To find the best sustainable backpacks, we looked for bags that use recycled materials, certified organic material, and manufacturing processes that conserve energy and natural resources.

Author Gabriella Sotelo is a journalist who covers the environment, climate change, and agriculture.