The 14 Best Vegan Bags, Totes, and Backpacks of 2023

Here are the top travel bags made of natural — and even biodegradable — materials.

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The Best Vegan Bags, Totes and Backpacks

Travel and Leisure / Alli Waataja

Spring is traditionally a season for acquiring new clothing and accessories and, fortunately for those with a preference for eco-conscious pieces, vegan options are becoming easier to find. Many companies now strive for ethical, sustainable production practices, incorporating plant-based leathers like cactus, recycled materials from rubber and plastic bottles, and upcycled fibers from sails and fishing nets in their products. In fact, according to the eco-conscious and socially responsible brand ranking company Good On You, vegan fashion is rapidly evolving and may surpass $1,095 billion by 2027. Not only are there a variety of new labels and popular designer brands that include fully vegan bags in their lines these days, that will only increase. 

If you’re in the market for a new bag and would like to try out a faux fur or leather option, there are many sustainable accessories available for a variety of occasions. Our favorite is the Melie Bianco Lana Bucket Crossbody for its style and all around eco-consciousness, but there are backpacks, totes, duffels, and other pieces to suit your needs. Here are our favorite fashionable travel bags made of natural, vegan, and even biodegradable materials to store all your on-the-go essentials.

Best Overall

Melie Bianco Lana Bucket Crossbody

Melie Bianco Lana Bucket Crossbody


Why We Love It: From its focus on small-batch products to its commitment to reduced textile waste, Melie Bianco promotes affordable luxury, fair trade principles, and cruelty-free craftsmanship.

What to Consider: If purchased online, the Lana bag may only be returned to the vendor via mail and not a physical Macy’s store.

Touting an environmentally sound, conscious consumer ethos, Melie Bianco is proud to partake in an ethical shopping experience, offering a wide range of sleek, vegan-friendly designs. Crafted from luxuriously soft vegan leather — in this case, polyurethane (PU) instead of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), the Lana bucket crossbody is our best overall pick.

While four colorways are available at Macy’s, the Melie Bianco site offers six total hues, including neutrals like saddle and black, plus pops like mango and lilac. The bag’s chunky, acrylic chain adds a funky accent to the inherent functionality of a classic bucket style. In addition to that detachable chain, the purse has a magnetic snap closure and one interior phone-sized zip pocket. 

Price at time of publish: $94

Dimensions: 10 x 7 x 6.25 inches | Material: Faux leather polyurethane, cotton | Weight: 1.1 pounds

Best Crossbody

Akira City of Love Moto Crossbody

Akira City of Love Moto Crossbody


Why We Love It: Simultaneously edgy and sweet, this heart-shaped crossbody promotes a love of animals by utilizing synthetic leather.

What to Consider: The zipper sticks a bit due to the bag’s shape, and it may not be the most practical everyday purse.

Whether you’re a fan of pink or lean toward an all-black wardrobe, either way, you’ll be cruising while carrying a City of Love Moto bag. This unique and sassy crossbody features a synthetic vegan leather base, heart-shaped silhouette, and moto jacket-inspired details, such as gold zippers, studs, faux pockets, and folded lapels. The gold-plated silver chain is removable if you prefer to use the handbag as a clutch. We also appreciate how the top has a zipper closure to keep a lipstick, wallet, and phone securely stowed while roaming the city or on the dancefloor. Plus, the classic chevron inner lining fashionably contrasts with the exterior of this edgy bag.

Price at time of publish: $50

Dimensions: 10 x 10 x 3.5 inches | Material: PU leather | Weight: 1.3 pounds

Best Belt Bag

Topo Designs Mini Quick Water Repellent Belt Bag

Topo Designs Mini Quick Water Repellent Belt Bag


Why We Love It: Ethically manufactured and crafted with 1000-denier Cordura (a kind of durable and versatile nylon), this colorful belt bag is bold and versatile.

What to Consider: With those bright color combinations and a thick strap that doesn’t easily stow away, this maximalist fanny pack is certainly not a low-key choice.

The Topo Designs belt bag is streamlined and adjustable, easily converting to a sling for over-the-shoulder wear. Maybe you’ll sport it while running errands, at the gym, or on a visit to the local dog park, but the colorful pick stays in the spotlight. The compact, 1.7-liter Mini Quick Pack (a smaller version of its 7-liter Quick Pack cousin) features a padded main compartment to hold key essentials like your phone, sunglasses, and a credit card. It’s assembled with 100 percent recycled nylon, fully lined, and water-repellent, making it a great all-weather option. There’s also a 1.5-inch-wide waist strap with squeeze buckle, double direction zip closure, top handles, an internal key clip, a bike clip, and interior and exterior pockets. And, not only does this bag come in seven unique colorways, it’s also Fair Wear-certified, meaning it meets safety, health, and employee wellness labor standards.

Price at time of publish: $49

Dimensions:  9.5 x 5.5 x 2 inches | Material: Nylon | Weight: Not listed

Best Backpack

Gunas New York Livia Red Vegan Leather Backpack

Livia Red Vegan Leather Backpack

Gunas New York

Why We Love It: This red statement bag can be worn over the shoulder or in backpack mode, making it a multifaceted addition to any day-to-night wardrobe.

What to Consider: Though Gunas claims the bag can carry a 13-inch laptop, the magnetic top closure may not work well if the bag is stuffed with an extra heavy load.

Polished and professional, the dual-functional Gunas Livia Backpack + Shoulder bag is a dynamic choice for both work and play. Named for eco-fashion and philanthropic icon Livia Firth, this bag promotes a spirit of women’s empowerment, vegan values, and green consumer advocacy. The all-purpose backpack is crafted from 100 percent vegan eco-pelle, which may be synthesized from a combination of PU, PVC, and other synthetic or natural fibers, such as cork and pineapple leaves. Featuring an internal zipped pocket, detachable shoulder straps, and a lining-free interior that’s easy to clean, this bright red bag is soft to the touch, practical, and just plain pretty. Handmade in South Korea, Gunas is a luxury brand that’s highly touted for its ethical and sustainable practices as well.

Price at time of publish: $245

Dimensions: 14 x 10 x 6 inches | Material: Eco-pelle | Weight: Not listed

Best Mini Backpack

Matt and Nat Fabi Mini Vintage Vegan Backpack

Matt and Nat Fabi Mini Vintage Vegan Backpack

Matt and Nat

Why We Love It:  Whether you’re running weekend errands, on a casual stroll, or meeting a friend for coffee, this ultra-soft PVC mini bag is conveniently petite but roomy enough to carry your essentials. 

What to Consider: Matt and Nat call this backpack a “mini,” but it is comparatively much larger than many other small backpacks on the market so do carefully consider its dimensions.

Matt and Nat is a fully vegan, cruelty-free brand that uses 100 percent recycled water bottles to line the interiors of all its bags. This sleek, vintage-inspired mini backpack is spacious enough to fit a wallet, phone, water bottle, small cosmetics bag, snacks, and other daily must-haves. It also includes a separate pocket to store a small laptop or tablet, making it a versatile option for professional purposes or social outings. Streamlined, multifunctional design, along with ethical production, sustainable materials, and responsible values make Matt and Nat a long-lasting investment and dependable choice for vegan shoppers and those who want to reduce their environmental footprint. Plus, the backpack comes with adjustable straps, expandable opening gussets, magnetic closure, zippered and smartphone pockets, and is available in seven colorways — including customer-favorite “oasis.”

Price at time of publish: $165

Dimensions: 8.5 x 12.5 x 5 inches | Material: PVC, recycled plastic bottles | Weight: Not listed

Best Mini Bag

Fossil Women's Harwell Eco-Leather Micro Flap Crossbody Purse Handbag

Fossil Women's Harwell Eco-Leather Micro Flap Crossbody Purse Handbag


Why We Love It: The eco-leather body and 100 percent Repreve recycled polyester interior make this equestrian-style bag a stylish, consciously created statement piece. 

What to Consider: Pay close attention to the dimensions, because this mini may only fit a small phone, credit card, small keychain, lip gloss, and a stick of gum, maximum.

Not only will this stylish crossbody carry your on-the-go basics, but it also showcases a sophisticated, classic look in vegan leather. Since 1984, Fossil has been making affordable, yet high-quality American Western-inspired products for both men and women, and the brand is committed to crafting fashionable and environmentally responsible accessories, too. We appreciate the Harwell Micro Crossbody’s contrast stitching and other riding-influenced elements, as well as its practical inner pocket and adjustable strap. If you’re a fan of the micro-bag trend and seeking a variety of color options, the Harwell comes in five hues, including a green embossed eco-python leather design.

Price at time of publish: $150

Dimensions: 4.25  x 1.34  x 2.75 inches | Material: Repreve recycled polyester | Weight: 1 pound

Best Clutch

Peta + Jain Cobain Clutch Crossbody

Peta + Jain Cobain Cobain Clutch Crossbody

Peta + Jain

Why We Love It: This handbag’s classic flap-over design coupled with an oversized weave gives it a timeless look that can be dressed up or down.

What to Consider: Peta and Jain is an Australian label launched in 2017 that has a big following Down Under and a growing presence among fashion-focused vegans in the U.S. and Canada.

Suitable for a range of occasions from the office to a weekend away, and with an option to carry as a crossbody or a clutch, the classic flap-over style Cobain is an incredibly versatile purse. Incorporating certified sustainable materials such as recycled vegan leather and recycled nylon into its Eco Edit handbag line, Peta and Jane seeks to reduce waste and lessen its impact on the environment. The bag features touches of sleek gold hardware and may become a staple of your all-season wardrobe considering it comes in six cool colorways: white, black, cobalt blue, orange, grass, and citrus.

Price at time of purchase: $85

Dimensions: 5.91 x 9.06 x 2.36 inches | Material: PU vegan leather | Weight: 1.1 pound

Best Tote

Angela Roi Malala Medium Tote

Angela Roi Malala Medium Tote

Angela Roi

Why We Love It: Angela Roi’s apple leather tote is soft and supple to the touch, making it the vegan leather of choice for those who seek a luxurious plant-based bag.

What to Consider: Though one of the more expensive bags on this list, the cost is worth the investment in a durable statement piece with zero carbon footprint.

Angela Roi is a leader in plant-based accessories. This stylish, sustainable, and cruelty-free label is already well known for its eco- and cactus-leather bags, and it recently launched a line of apple leather products, too. The Malala Apple Leather Tote is a great choice for those who seek a high-end vegan bag that also helps to reduce environmental waste and carbon emissions. Crafted from apple peels, cores, seeds, and more fruit waste from South Tyrol, Italy (that usually ends up getting thermally destroyed or dumped in landfills), this plant-sourced leather transforms byproduct fibers into new, raw material.

The lightweight tote comes in three different matte-finish hues: black, beige, and wine. It also features four inner pockets, two flat handles, a flat shoulder strap, six studded feet, and two snap hooks. The bag’s regular grain is less visible than other EPUL (Exquisite Polyurethane Leather) models, though it may be susceptible to more wear and tear over time. Treat this luxury bag with care! 

Price at time of publish: $1,050

Dimensions: 8.6 x 11.4 x 5.5 inches | Material: Apple leather | Weight: Not listed

Best Weekender

Vera Bradley Weekender Travel Bag

Vera Bradley Weekender Travel Bag


Why We Love It: Produced from 100 percent recycled cotton fibers, this is a sustainable choice for a travel or gym bag. 

What to Consider: Depending on your travel requirements and packing tendencies, you may find this weekender on the small side.

Soft, comfortable to carry, and available in a range of vibrant colors, this Vera Bradley bag gets high marks both for travel and everyday use. The recycled cotton bag is not only vegan, but it’s also sustainable, and its multiple features make it a great choice for travelers. From the sleek exterior to the spacious inner compartment and a slew of pockets, this duffel keeps you organized and able to quickly grab anything you need while on vacation or on duty at work. The trolley sleeve offers convenience when traveling with a suitcase, and its adjustable (and removable) strap allows you to decide the best mode of transport. Additionally, the Vera Bradley Weekender offers slip pockets, two zip pockets, a trolley sleeve, and zip closure, making it a solid, carry-on-compliant choice from a beloved brand.

Price at time of publish: $135

Dimensions: 18.5 x 12.5 x 7.5 inches | Material: Recycled cotton | Weight: 1.7 pounds

Best Shoulder Bag

Stella McCartney Medium Frayme Faux Shearling Shoulder Bag

Stella McCartney Medium Frayme Faux Shearling Shoulder Bag


Why We Love It: Celebrity designer Stella McCartney is a lifelong vegetarian who solely incorporates cruelty-free materials, such as vegan leather and faux fur, into her entire line of clothing and accessories. 

What to Consider: This bag’s price tag lands at the higher end of our list.

This stellar shoulder bag comes courtesy of ethically minded fashion wunderkind Stella McCartney. Its faux shearling exterior is crafted from a doppelganger synthetic polyester that boasts the texture and mimics the look of real shearling, but without harming any animals. The Fraymes’s faux leather trim is PU, and the interior lining is faux suede. In addition to its 100 percent cruelty-free materials, this bag is also very functional — it’s compact yet offers enough room to stow away all your daily necessities. Plus, it features a magnetic snap closure and inside pocket to keep your belongings secure and organized, as well as an adjustable shoulder strap for comfort. Whipstitching and a signature, chunky diamond-cut chain at the base of the purse add an edgy aesthetic to this classic shape.

Price at time of publish: $1,208

Dimensions: 6 x 8 x 3 inches | Material: Polyester, polyurethane | Weight: 1.25 pounds

Best Satchel

House of Want Snack Top Handle Vegan Leather Satchel

House of Want Snack Top Handle Vegan Leather Satchel

House of Want

Why We Love It: This vegan leather label is a TikTok favorite that makes luxury-inspired bags for a fraction of designer prices.

What to Consider: Subtle shade and texture variations may occur in each product.

Want this bag? We don’t blame you. House of Want is a youthful brand with a popular TikTok hashtag and it’s easy to see why. Not only are the bags affordable and made from high-quality vegan leather, but they also possess a luxe design that makes them distinctive from other trendy labels. This House of Want satchel stands out in particular as a statement piece, putting a final elegant exclamation point on any outfit. Available in warm caramel or stone grey, the retro top handle and burnished chain link shoulder strap add an extra chic touch to an already refined shoulder bag. Overall, the vintage-inspired design coupled with eco-conscious faux leather makes this a uniquely modern throwback purse and we’re here for it. 

Price at time of publish: $138

Dimensions: 9 x 11.5 x 3.5 inches | Material: Vegan leather | Weight: Not listed

Best Bucket

Urban Originals The Falcon Bucket Bag

Urban Originals The Falcon Bucket Bag


Why We Love It: Practical and pretty, this vegan bucket bag has an ‘80s vibe especially in white that’s great for summer.

What to Consider: The bag is lined with viscose, a semi-synthetic rayon fabric made from wood pulp that’s often used as a substitute for silk.

Urban Originals is yet another Australian handbag and accessories company making products with ethically sourced materials. This 100 percent polyurethane bucket purse is a combination of both textured and soft material, all of which is also Sedex-approved, which means the brand solely does business with department stores that also have ethical sourcing programs. (Even the price tags are made with biodegradable paper sourced from responsibly managed forests and non-toxic ink.) This bag was designed in Sydney and manufactured in a long-standing, ethically operated partner factory in China. It has an adjustable strap, zipper closure, one zip pocket, three slip pockets, three card slots, and brushed brass hardware. The result is a functional and classy purse made chemical-free, cruelty-free, and with reduced waste and a conscience towards workers and the environment. 

Price at time of publish: $98

Dimensions: 9 x 11 x 6 inches | Material: Polyurethane, viscose | Weight: 2 pounds

Best Convertible

Baggallini Modern Everywhere Bag

Baggallini Modern Everywhere Bag


Why We Love It: The built-in RFID-blocking card slots adds peace of mind to this organizational gem. 

What to Consider: It does not include backpack straps.

This Baggallini Everywhere Bag was actually crafted based on customer feedback. The lightweight, vegan leather convertible hobo features a lockable luggage sleeve, a grab-and-go phone pocket to keep your cell handy, an elastic key leash, a wristlet strap, lipstick and pen loops, plus many more compartments and organization options. It attains the aesthetic appeal of traditional leather and also features recycled zippers and a sustainably sourced PET-lining crafted from recycled plastic bottles. Available in an impressive 33 colorways, this streamlined purse is great for travel and a variety of occasions. 

Price at time of publish: $150

Dimensions: 11 x 9 x 4.5 inches | Material: PVC leather | Weight: 9 ounces

Best Evening Bag

Apede Mod Violet Small Crystal Twist

Apede Mod Violet Small Crystal Twist

Apede Mod

Why We Love It: The subtle violet hue is a welcome departure from the typical little black evening bag, and the focus on its sparkly crystal embellishment means nobody is wondering if it’s “real” or faux leather.

What to Consider: The label tends to sell out fast and may not restock as quickly.

This darling Apede Mod Crystal Twist finds inspiration in the starlight of a dark night sky as the vegan, synthetic leather bag showcases twinkling crystal gems and a unique squared design. The motif then repeats in the fanciful purse’s square buckle and lock. The popular NYC brand, Apede Mod, offers the Twist in two sizes and 15 different color-and-fabric combinations for versatility, although only some of these designs are vegan. Without a doubt, Apede Mode can make a solid investment piece to feel good about, too.

Price at time of publish: $520

Dimensions: 10.6 x 2.95 x 12.2 inches | Material: Polyester leather | Weight: 12.7 ounces

Tips for Buying Vegan Leather Bags 

Choose your desired finish

Fashion-forward shoppers with a cruelty-free mindset can now find vegan bags that come in a variety of finishes and textures, many of which exquisitely mimic the appearance and even the luxe feel of traditional leather. If you have a preferred look when it comes to leather goods, chances are there’s a faux leather (or faux fur or shearling) purse that closely resembles that desired veneer or tactile surface. These nearly identical finishes may include soft suede, glossy patent leather, naturally bumpy pebbled grain, high-quality full grain, matte micro grain, Saffiano (calf skin), smooth Ruga, and embossed animal-skin doppelgangers akin to crocodile or snake. 

Manufacturers can apply various techniques to faux leathers derived from synthetic materials, such as polyurethane (PU) or polyvinyl chloride (PVC), to achieve naturalistic results. Similarly, materials with plant-based origins like cactus, pineapple, cork, and others may also be processed to resemble animal-based leather. Rest assured that stylish choices abound among faux leather handbag brands, and even the most polished professionals and fussiest fashion plates will find a range of attractive options.

Decide what shape best fits your needs

Much like shoes, bags have a variety of purposes for your own intended use case and personal comfort desires. From a handbag’s shape and size to the length of its straps and type of handle or closure, there are multiple aspects to consider when choosing the shape you want. 

If the bag’s main function will be accompanying you to work, a medium-to-large tote, large bucket bag or satchel, or convertible purse may be best suited to carry a bunch of everyday items (wallet, makeup case, glasses case, phone, small laptop, water bottle, etc.) during commutes. 

For students, frequent travelers, regular gym-goers, or anyone else who is constantly on the move, a backpack, weekender, duffel bag, or the aforementioned convertible bag may be a more convenient purchase. These larger-sized bags tend to have adjustable shoulder straps, multiple pockets for storage, and even ergonomic designs for convenience while carrying a heavier load of items, including books, a laptop, clothing, sneakers, and toiletries. However, if you’re mainly looking for a bag that lets you bring a few key items along (keys, phone, small wallet, etc.) while running local errands, exercising outdoors, or walking the dog, a mini backpack, fanny pack, or belt bag may be your best bet.

If you’re solely looking for a fashionable statement piece, smaller handbags, including crossbodies, slings, clutches, shoulder bags, and uniquely shaped, petite evening bags will be your go-to models. Medium-sized styles may work as everyday bags or as a casual weekend or date-night purse depending on the intricacy of the design, such as chains, zippers, studs, fringe, beading, and other embellishments.

Overall, your bag shape, style, color, and materials should suit your personality and preferences. Whether you’re in the mood for change or feel you’re currently missing a handbag category that reflects your personal style is up to you — just as your decision to wear a vegan accessory makes a subtle statement about who you are, your attitude towards animals, and your own individual values.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What is vegan leather?

    To explain the difference between vegan and “real” leather, conscious consumers must first be aware that traditional leather is made from animal skin and hides. Cows and calves are the primary sources of many leather products on the market, however other animals including sheep, lambs, goats, pigs, horses, ostriches, buffalo, alligators, crocodiles, snakes, lizards, camels, seals, and more exotic species may be killed and manufactured to produce handbags and other items. Vegan leather, on the other hand, is considered cruelty-free as no animals are purposely slaughtered to create the material.

    There are two main categories of vegan leather: synthetic and plant-based. Synthetic leathers are typically sourced from plastic and may not necessarily be sustainable or eco-friendly. PVC (polyvinyl chloride) is a synthetic polymer of plastic, more commonly known as vinyl. It tends to be inexpensive, waterproof, durable, and highly recyclable, but may contain certain toxic chemical additives, such as phthalates or lead. 

    Meanwhile, PU (polyurethane) is an artificial leather that’s created from a thermoplastic polymer. It differs from PVC in that it’s considered thinner with greater flexibility, while also being more resistant to abrasions, oil, and chemicals. Plus, PU leather is similarly affordable but does not release toxic substances into the earth so it’s thought to be an environmentally safer option. That said, the production process that creates PU may involve harmful chemicals (this may start to change due to new methods that use water instead), and the material is not considered biodegradable. So, PU may be better than PVC in various ways, it is not easily recyclable. 

    As far as plant-based vegan leather goes, there are a wide variety of planet-friendly raw material options. These faux leathers are frequently produced from plants, biomaterials, and agricultural waste products (think: the “leftovers” from an apple, such as the peel, core, stem, and seeds). Fruits, vegetables, fungi, and other fibers are increasingly becoming incorporated into products made by eco-conscious, forward-thinking apparel companies. As mentioned earlier, some of these plant-based alternatives include popular fabrics like cotton and hemp, as well as pineapple leaves, mushroom, apple, banana peels, bamboo, cork, coconut, cactus, grape, bark, paper, lotus, recycled rubber, and even flower leather is in development. Of course, the durability and specific biodegradable details may differ depending on the raw material and fiber production process, but generally speaking, these plant leathers are thought of as better for the environment and people, as well as cruelty-free. 

    One newer alternative to real leather is bio-leather, which is neither plant nor plastic. Made from non-animal-derived collagen (sourced from yeast), scientists call the fabrication a natural, cruelty-free protein. Currently in development, it appears to be an exciting, chemical-free product on the horizon.

    Perhaps the most popular aspect of vegan leather, though, is its animal-safe status. For those who care about the ethical treatment of other species, both plastic-based and plant-based leathers are the choice of animal champions.

  • Is vegan leather durable?

    Not all vegan leathers are created equal, but depending on the source material and manufacturing processes involved, both petroleum- or plastic-based and plant-based leather products may be quite durable and long-lasting. PVC and PU leathers are specifically made to copy not only the look and feel of animal leather, but also its resistance to wear and tear. That said, the quality of the companies, chemicals, and technology used to produce these synthetics will dictate their quality. Some faux leathers may end up peeling, cracking, and generally deteriorating over time, while others may prove to be as strong as real leather.

    Historically, plant-based vegan leathers are often thinner and tend to be less durable than animal leathers. But, with modern technology, non-animal-derived leathers have increasingly improved in quality and durability. This is in-part because they are coated in a water-repellent outer later — but do your homework, as some of these plant-based leathers are also combined with plastic. This may be an effort to recycle plastics or it may be a kind of greenwashing, depending on the brand’s transparency.

  • How do I clean vegan leather?

    A simple mix of gentle soap or non-abrasive detergent and warm water is the safest approach when cleaning PVC, PU, or plant-based leathers. Just dip a cloth in the solution, making it damp but not drenched, and softly rub away any stains or debris. Allow the vegan leather bag (or other item) to air dry before storing. Avoid harsh chemicals and consult the manufacturer for any exceedingly tough-to-remove stains.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

T+L Contributor Saryn Chorney, a sustainable lifestyle writer and animal welfare advocate, used her environmental studies background and professional expertise about plant-based, eco-friendly, and cruelty-free solutions to curate this list of stylish vegan handbags.

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