The 14 Best Sustainable Backpacks of 2023

The 8000Kicks Everyday Backpack is our top pick.

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Best Sustainable Backpacks

Travel & Leisure / David Hattan

Between daily commutes, mountain hikes, and simply making fashion statements, backpacks are essential in a variety of scenarios. While they're often categorized by activity and use, it’s important to factor in a backpack's sustainability, too. However, making sense of product descriptions, company claims, and sustainability credentials can be confusing. To help out, we’ve rounded up the best sustainable backpacks, including top picks for different activities, styles, and features. We also consulted sustainable fashion and product experts for tips on eco-friendly shopping.

The sustainability of each backpack was assessed at the product and company level. Key sustainability indicators include the backpack’s materials and durability, as well as the company’s supply chain, labor practices, sustainability commitments, and philanthropic contributions to environmental and social justice initiatives.

While we’re delighted that many brands are committed to supporting people and the planet, the 8000Kicks Everyday Backpack earned the best overall pick for its sustainable hemp materials, handy features, and the company’s investment in renewable energy.

Best Overall

8000Kicks Everyday Backpack

8000Kicks Everyday Backpack


Why We Love It: Besides its production of the world’s first waterproof hemp backpack, we love the company’s commitment to transparency and reducing emissions from the manufacturing process.

What to Consider: The bag doesn’t have an internal zip pocket, though some may find the hidden back panel zip pocket sufficient.

Made from hemp, the 8000Kicks Everyday Backpack boasts durability and waterproof protection without using petroleum products, dyes, or toxic chemicals. Hemp is a quick-growing crop that requires less water than cotton — another sustainability perk. The backpack is compressible, allowing it to adjust between 18 liters and 30 liters. It has a roll-top closure system that opens wide for easily stashing a laptop or a weekend’s worth of clothes. The Everyday Backpack has a range of pockets and compartments for versatile functionality. This includes dual water bottle pockets, a front zip pocket, a USB pocket, and an anti-theft pocket on the back. As the company’s name suggests, 8000Kicks built its business on making shoes (the vegan, recycled variety). With the Everyday Backpack, the brand has continued its tradition of sustainability and transparency. The company discloses greenhouse gas emissions data and sources nearly half of its energy used in manufacturing from clean energy. 8000Kicks also only uses materials that meet the OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certification requirements.

Price at time of publish: $135

Material: 100 percent hemp | Weight: 2.3 pounds | Capacity: 30 liters

Best Convertible

Cotopaxi Todo Convertible 16L Tote

Cotopaxi Todo Convertible 16L Tote


Why We Love It: It’s easily converted from a backpack to a tote and vice versa so you stay prepared for anything.

What to Consider: It doesn’t offer a great deal of storage capacity.

Whether you’re traveling or running errands, the two-in-one versatility of the Cotopaxi Todo Convertible 16L Tote comes in handy. Simply tuck the bag’s shoulder straps into the back panel and use the carry handles to complete the transition to a tote bag. In either setup, the top zippered opening leads to the main storage compartment, which includes a 15-inch padded laptop sleeve. There’s also a fleece-lined pocket for storing fragile items like sunglasses. The Convertible 16L Tote is made with 100 percent recycled nylon and polyester ripstop, granting the bag durability and eco-friendly construction. As part of Cotopaxi’s Cada Dia line, the bag comes in a variety of color options and avoids using any virgin materials. You can also order a surprise pack to get a randomized multicolor creation. Cotopaxi is carbon neutral and B Corp-certified — a designation that accounts for both environmental and social impact. The company donates one percent of its revenue via the Cotopaxi Foundation to humanitarian projects across the Americas.

Price at time of publish: $85

Material: 330-denier recycled ripstop nylon (exterior); 225-denier recycled ripstop polyester (interior lining) | Weight: 1.1 pounds | Capacity: 16 liters

Best Compression

Tropicfeel Shell Backpack

Tropicfeel Shell Backpack


Why We Love It: This incredibly versatile backpack can be adapted to fit between 20 to 42 liters.

What to Consider: The top handle doesn’t offer the most comfort for carrying.

The compressible Tropicfeel Shell Backpack is loaded with features for easy packing and versatile use. This practicality is enhanced by solid sustainability credentials — Tropicfeel is climate neutral certified for their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, the Shell Backpack is made from 100 percent recycled nylon and 64 percent recycled polyester. These materials effectively shield your belongings from rain and wind. At its most compressed, the backpack has a 20-liter capacity. Loosen the buckled straps to expand its storage to 30 liters or 42 liters, with the latter involving an added toiletry kit. The Shell Backpack is designed with both a top opening and a clamshell opening. The former is ideal for easy access when you’re on the go, while the latter makes it easy to stuff the backpack to its full capacity. Other storage options include the 6-liter kangaroo pocket and a laptop compartment. Tropicfeel offers a range of accessories to enhance the Shell Backpack’s functionality, including a wardrobe system that keeps packed garments organized and hangs as a mobile closet once you’ve reached your destination.

Price at time of publish: $249

Material: Recycled nylon and recycled polyester | Weight: 3.3 pounds | Capacity: 20 to 42 liters

Best Canvas

Day Owl The Backpack

Day Owl The Backpack

Day Owl

Why We Love It: The backpack’s sleek look is fabricated from recycled materials.

What to Consider: Adjusting the straps involves pulling both metal sliders rather than a simple tug.

A certified B Corporation, Day Owl developed The Backpack via a circular supply chain. The company sources materials from single-use plastic and salvaged backpacks to create new bags. Through the First Mile initiative, Day Owl purchases plastic from waste collection networks in low-income communities around the world, providing sustaining wages and diverting plastic from oceans and landfills. The result is The Backpack, a minimalist pack that features First Mile waxed canvas made from 100 percent recycled post-consumer plastic bottles, conflict-free metal zippers, algae-based foam, and 100 percent recycled polyester lining and trim. The sleek 18-liter backpack boasts an impressive selection of pockets, including a floating top pocket, flat front pocket, secret side pocket, padded laptop compartment, and a water bottle pocket that fits up to a 750-milliliter bottle.

Price at time of publish: $155

Material: First Mile waxed canva (shell); 100 percent recycled polyester (lining) | Weight: 2.4 pounds | Capacity: 18 liters

Best Mini

United by Blue (R)evolution 9L Sidekick Pack

United by Blue (R)evolution 9L Sidekick Pack


Why We Love It: It’s durable and equipped with a multitude of pockets for easy organization and versatile use.

What to Consider: The straps don’t expand far enough to accommodate all sizes.

The United by Blue (R)evolution 9L Sidekick delivers everyday functionality in a compact and environmentally-friendly package. Whether you're packing for a hiking trip or morning commute, the interior organization and water- and tear-resistant construction are up to the task. The backpack’s exterior, lining, and webbing straps are made from 100 percent recycled materials, while the air-mesh padding uses a 60 percent recycled nylon and 40 percent polyester blend. Each Sidekick is produced at a Fair Trade-certified factory in Vietnam. And for every backpack purchased, United By Blue removes one pound of trash from the ocean and waterways. Though its capacity is just 9 liters, the Sidekick manages to squeeze in a padded tablet sleeve, two water bottle sleeves, top and exterior zip pockets, and a main zippered compartment with a fold-over top with snap closure.

Material: 100 percent recycled polyester body and 100 percent recycled nylon webbing | Weight: Not listed | Capacity: 9 liters

Best Leather

Opus Mind Medium Backpack

Opus Mind Medium Backpack

Opus Mind

Why We Love It: Both eco-friendly and fashionable, this durable backpack is made from recycled scrap leather.

What to Consider: Though recycled, the leather is real, not vegan.

The Opus Mind Medium Backpack offers a timeless look that’s sustainably sourced. The backpack’s recycled leather originates in Italy, where Opus Mind sources leather scraps from artisan glove makers. The recycling process enhances the leather’s waterproofing, durability, and scratch-resistance for long-lasting fashion. Compared to standard leather processing, making the upcycled leather uses 90 percent less water. The Medium Backpack carries certification by the Recycled Claim Standard, which requires that products contain at least 95 percent recycled materials. It has two zipped compartments, a laptop pocket, and adjustable straps for versatile use and comfort. The sleek, minimalist design pairs well with virtually any outfit, making it a great travel backpack or commuter bag for easy, elevated style.

Price at time of publish: $425

Material: RCS100-certified traceable scrap leather | Weight: Not listed | Dimensions: 12 x 15 x 5 inches

Best for Commuters

Cariuma Master-piece M-pack

Cariuma Master-piece M-pack


Why We Love It: This backpack delivers minimalist style and eco-friendly perks in a unique design.

What to Consider: It’s a limited series offer, so finding a replacement bag later on is unlikely.

Sustainability and high-level design converge with the Cariuma Master-piece M-pack. The backpack is the result of a limited series collaboration between sustainable sneaker brand Cariuma and Japanese backpack manufacturer Master-piece. The unisex backpack supports Cariuma’s pledge to plant a tree in the Brazilian rain forest for every pair of shoes (or backpack in this case) sold. They use a mix of recycled and recyclable materials to ship the M-pack and other products. Cariuma is a Certified B Corp, earning an Overall B Impact score of 94.2, with 80 being the threshold for certification. The M-pack is constructed from water-repellent recycled fabric and features an antibacterial lining. The main compartment can fit a 13-inch laptop, making it a compatible commuter or school bag. The timeless, U-shaped backpack is available in black and tan, so it pairs well with almost any outfit.

Price at time of publish: $198

Material: Recycled fabric, premium suede | Weight: 1.5 pounds | Capacity: 16 liters

Best Waterproof

Red Original Waterproof Backpack

Red Original Waterproof Backpack


Why We Love It: This sleek backpack boasts excellent organization and recycled materials on top of its waterproof credentials.

What to Consider: It’s not designed to withstand prolonged submersion.

Many packs claim waterproof or water-resistant capabilities, but the Red Original Waterproof Backpack offers superior protection from the elements. It’s made from lightweight, durable Cyclepet fabric that's 100 percent sourced from recycled plastic bottles. The Original features sealed seams and a roll-top closure system for the main compartment to keep out moisture. An exterior zip pocket and two mesh side pockets offer easy access to water bottles and snacks. The removable padded organizer comes in handy for carrying laptops, while the hidden internal zip pocket is an ideal spot to safely stash valuables and electronics. Though the storage portion of the backpack isn’t breathable, the shoulder straps and back panel incorporate airflow foam to improve ventilation.

Price at time of publish: $199

Material: Recycled TPU | Weight: 2 pounds | Capacity: 30 liters

Best Hiking

Osprey Talon 22 Extended Fit Backpack

Osprey Talon 22 Pack


Why We Love It: This durable backpack is equipped with excellent ventilation and supportive hip belts for top-notch performance and comfort on tough trail hikes.

What to Consider: It’s not the lightest daypack given its heavy-duty construction and numerous features.

The Osprey Talon 22 Extended Fit is geared towards all types of outdoor exploration, especially hiking. It’s fitted with numerous attachments, including bungees for trekking poles, an ice axe loop, and helmet attachment. Osprey upgraded their reputed daypack’s ventilation and comfort with AirScape back panels, which allow easy airflow and retain their ergonomic shape when the bag is packed to full capacity. Hikers will also appreciate side stretch mesh pockets for water bottles, BioStretch harness and hip belt, and the external hydration reservoir sleeve. Additional storage is available via zippered pocket with key clip and top panel zippered pocket. Osprey uses bluesign-approved 100 percent recycled nylon in the backpack’s construction. This means that the product was evaluated in terms of the manufacturing process, worker safety, pollution, and consumer safety. Furthermore, the Talon 22’s DWR finish is made without PFAS, a group of manmade chemicals often referred to as forever chemicals for their inability to break down.

The Talon is designed as a men’s or unisex pack. For a women’s specific Osprey model with matching design and features, check out the Tempest.

Price at time of publish: $116

Material: Bluesign-approved 100 percent recycled nylon | Weight: 2.1 pounds (small/medium); 2.2 pounds (large/x-large) | Capacity: 22 liters

Best High-capacity

Osprey Aura AG 65 Women's Backpack

Osprey Aura AG 65 Women's Backpack


Why We Love It: This lightweight backpack fits loads of gear and supplies for any multi-day adventure.

What to Consider: The main compartment is only accessible from the top.

From backcountry expeditions to world travel, the Osprey Aura AG LT 65 delivers exceptional performance and comfort on top of ample storage. The 65-liter pack weighs just 4 pounds, but when it’s fully loaded, the anti-gravity suspension and hip belt work together to ergonomically distribute weight and allow a free range of motion. The Fit-on-the-Fly hip belt is designed for a contoured fit that can be dialed in for varying waist sizes. The Aura also has incremental length and angle adjustments and an injection-molded ladder torso system to secure a personalized fit. Like the Talon 22 Extended Fit, this Osprey model is made from durable recycled materials that have been bluesign approved and Global Recycling Standard certified. The Aura comes with a PFAS/PFC-free rain cover, keeping your gear and belongings dry when you’re on the go far from home. For a comparable men’s version, check out the Osprey Atmos AG 65.

Material: Main: 210-denier recycled nylon (Bluesign approved); Accent: 210-denier high-tenacity nylon (Bluesign approved); Bottom: 500-denier high-tenacity nylon (Bluesign approved) | Weight: 3.8 pounds (XS/S); 4 pounds (M/L) | Capacity: 65 liters

Best Diaper Backpack

No Reception Club The Getaway Bag

No Reception Club The Getaway Bag

No Reception Club

Why We Love It: This backpack offers streamlined organization for all baby travel essentials.

What to Consider: The sidekick, which features a readily accessible diaper essentials compartment, must be purchased at an additional cost.

No Reception makes traveling with a baby in tow much easier with The Getaway Bag. The bag’s shell is made from water-resistant recycled polyester, and vegetable-tanned leather is used for the trim. The printed lining uses a blend of durable nylon and recycled polyester to withstand messy situations. The Getaway Bag comes with two adjustable shelves that velcro to the walls of the bag plus an insulated lunch bag for optimal organization. The main compartment consists of three separate pocket, which are easily accessible from the top or side openings. Families have plenty of choice in how they pack the Getaway Bag, though the odor-resistant and waterproof bottom pocket is well-fortified for dirty or wet clothes. There’s also storage space for parents’ essentials, including a laptop sleeve and compartments in the hood, front, and back of the backpack. The padded shoulder straps deliver comfortable support, though parents can also opt to secure the bag to the stroller with swivel hooks that attach to metal D-rings on the its handle.

Price at time of publish: $235

Material: 100 percent recycled polyester (shell); 100 percent vegetable-tanned leather (trim); 61 percent recycled polyester, 39 percent nylon (lining) | Weight: 2.7 pounds empty, 3.4 pounds with dividers and lunch bag | Capacity: 24 liters

Best Packable

Dare to Roam Packable Backpack

Dare to Roam Packable Backpack


Why We Love It: This collapsible backpack is made entirely from recycled materials and each sale contributes toward youth empowerment programs.

What to Consider: It only comes in orange.

It’s easy to take the Dare to Roam Packable Backpack anywhere. The bag conveniently stows in its internal zip pocket and includes a grab handle to carry without hassle. The Packable Backpack is rounded out by a main compartment, mesh water bottle holders, and a quick access exterior pocket. Environmentally minded hikers and travelers will appreciate the bag’s 100 percent recycled materials and antimicrobial treatments which cut down on washing. Dare to Roam uses either recycled or biodegradable materials in its packaging. The company is a Certified B Corporation and contributes three percent of all sales to the Why Not You Foundation to support student access to educational opportunities, as well as children’s health and food security initiatives.

Price at time of publish: $68

Material: 100 percent recycled nylon | Weight: .5 pounds | Capacity: 17 liters

Best Weekend Bag

Stubble & Co The Adventure Bag

Stubble & Co The Adventure Bag

Stubble & Co

Why We Love It: This spacious backpack has numerous pockets and opens like a suitcase for smooth packing and unpacking.

What to Consider: Though durable, it’s a steep price point.

The Adventure Bag by Stubble & Co has all the ideal features of a weekend bag: it’s comfortable to carry, easy to pack, and boasts up to 42 liters of storage. The clamshell opening leads to the main compartment, which includes zippable mesh screens to hold belongings in place while keeping everything visible for quick access. When fully packed, the padded straps and hip belt can be adjusted for a comfy fit that distributes the weight evenly. If there’s space left, pulling the side compression straps cuts down on size. The Adventure Bag comes with a rain cover and a multitude of pockets, including an outer bottle pocket, waist strap pocket, waterproof shoe pocket, outer zipped pocket, and hidden secret pocket for valuables. Its durable ripstop materials are made from post-consumer recycled plastic. As a company, Stubble & Co only works with suppliers that have passed audits by the Business Social Compliance Initiative. They also have Climate Neutral Certification and donate one percent of annual sales to environmental nonprofits.

Price at time of publish: $275

Material: Ripstop recycled PET | Weight: 3.7 pounds | Capacity: 42 liters

Best for Students

Terra Thread Earth Backpack

Terra Thread Earth Backpack

Terra Thread

Why We Love It: This classic backpack uses durable, sustainably sourced materials and provides ample space for books and a laptop at a competitive price.

What to Consider: The materials don’t afford much waterproof protection.

The Terra Thread Earth Backpack lives up to its name as a planet-friendly product. The backpack’s canvas is made from organic cotton and manufactured at a Fair Trade Certified Factory. For every backpack purchased, Terra Thread contributes to Feeding America’s campaign to end hunger by donating meals to children and families in need. Terra Thread’s products also have Carbon Neutral Certification, and the company supports carbon offset projects, including renewable energy projects and reforestation initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The backpack itself is designed with straightforward organization ideal for students and commuters alike. The spacious main compartment contains a small interior pocket and laptop sleeve. There are also two water bottle sleeves and an external zip pocket.

Price at time of publish: $70

Material: Certified Fair Trade Organic cotton canvas | Capacity: 16 liters

Tips for Buying a Sustainable Backpack

Be mindful of greenwashing

Many brands are aware that customers care about sustainability, so those with ethical and sustainable credentials typically include it in their product descriptions or website. The push towards sustainability has also seen a rise in “greenwashing,” which is when a company creates a false impression of its environmental impact.

Annie Morris, editor-in-chief at Made in Canada, says to keep an eye out for bold, unsubstantiated claims about sustainability. “If a brand claims that their backpack is “100 percent sustainable” without providing any proof or details, that should raise a red flag,” said Morris. When browsing products, be weary of vague terms and phrases, cautioned Lindsay Christinee, sustainable lifestyle expert and founder at The Wellness Feed. “Look for specifics like organic cotton, recycled plastic or plant-based leathers," suggested Christinee.

Prioritize transparency

Besides making their own claims, companies can demonstrate transparency through certifications and verification by third parties. This includes how they source materials, labor practices, and philanthropic work. Christinee points to B Corps Certification, 1% for the Planet, and Fair Trade Certified as trusted indicators of sustainability and good labor practices. However, Christinee noted that smaller brands may not be in a position to pay for certification. “But if they’re willing to share their impact on their website, that’s a sign the brand is trying to build trust,” she said.

Invest in pieces that will last

Most everyone is familiar with the three R’s: reduce, reuse, and recycle. Reducing the consumption of natural resources has the greatest environmental impact, thus the top ranking in the three-tiered hierarchy. Selecting a backpack that will endure years of use is a sustainable investment — both ecologically and financially. In other words, “the most sustainable items are those that you use again and again… and again,” said Christinee.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What is sustainability?

    In broad terms, sustainability means fulfilling the needs of the present without compromising the needs of the future. Sustainability also involves a balance between the environment, social equity, and the economy so that one doesn’t come at the cost of another.

  • What makes a backpack sustainable?

    We evaluated each company's materials, labor practices, supply chain, and support for environmental and social equity initiatives when selecting the most sustainable backpacks, as all these factors impact people and the planet.

Why We Trust Travel + Leisure

Kevin Brouillard is a contributing writer at T+L specializing in outdoor gear and apparel. He received a master’s degree in sustainable communities from Binghamton University and his work has been published in TripSavvy, Jetsetter, and Oyster, and he served in the Peace Corps in Cambodia for two years. He used his experience with outdoor adventure as well as thorough research and tips from experts in compiling this list of the most sustainable backpacks.

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