The 10 Best Ethical Backpacks & Rucksacks In The UK

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Looking for an ethical backpack? Here are 10 of the best ethical backpacks for men and women, available in the UK right now. Whether you’re looking for a rucksack for work, school, leisure or travel, I’ve got you covered.

Some brands have paid to be featured here – denoted by AD. We only select brands that we believe are doing good things for people and the planet.

Whether you’re looking to explore the great outdoors, are planning some travels, or just want something practical to carry around your laptop, a backpack wins hands down. When it comes to functionality, durability, versatility and style there’s nothing else that quite hits the mark.

However, picking the right backpack can be tricky. With so many choices, it can be overwhelming. Throw in ethical considerations, and it can be difficult to know where to start.

To help you out, I’ve put together my top choice for ethical backpacks. From vegan-friendly rucksacks to bags made out of recycled materials, I’ll help you narrow down the right bag for you.

10 Best Ethical & Sustainable Backpacks

A person hillwalking in the snow with a blue text box that says  guide to the best ethical backpacks and rucksacks

Use these quick links to jump to information about each brand, or keep scrolling for the full details.

1. Kind Bag

Kind Bag backpack made from recycled plastic bottles, in green.

Key Features

  • Vegan-friendly
  • Made from recycled plastic bottles
  • Donates to charity
  • Available in medium (14 litres) and large sizes (23 litres)
  • Available in a range of colours
  • Can be returned to Kind Bag for recycling
  • Priced £65 – £75
  • Use code MORAL15 for 15% off your order.

Why We Rate Kind Bag

Kind Bag makes sustainably and ethically produced backpacks, from 100% recycled and recyclable vegan-friendly and water-resistant fabric. 

Instead of a rolled top, Kind Bag closes with concealed magnets. This means you can close the top easily and quickly, which is handy if you need to grab something from your bag in a hurry or if you have dexterity problems.

Don’t worry about losing your belongings. The extra-strong magnets prevent your belongings from falling out. The grab handles have hidden magnets in them too, to keep them together without the need for fiddly attachments. 

Functionality has also been carefully considered. You’ll find long side pockets to hold your reusable water bottle and umbrella. Meanwhile, two easily accessible front pockets help to keep your essentials close to hand.

A padded laptop pocket, fitting most 13″ models keeps your tech safe. Additionally, an anti-theft pocket between the back padding and the main compartment keeps your valuables safe. There is also an elastic hook inside to hold your keys or wallet, and a metal hook on the strap to hold anything you need to keep close to hand.

Comfort is also key. The back of the backpack and shoulder straps are padded with 100% recycled lining. And with extra padding to support your back, you’ll be comfortable even when carrying a heavy load.

Use the exclusive discount code MORAL15 for 15% off your order. This can be used once per customer, and cannot be used in conjunction with any other discounts.

2. Roka

roka bag

Key Features

  • Vegan-friendly
  • Made from recycled materials
  • Available in a range of colours
  • Priced around £65

Why We Rate Roka

The Roka Canfield vegan-friendly ethical backpack – available in the UK at Trouva – is sustainably made from around 12 to 15 recycled plastic bottles that have been found on beaches.

We love that this sustainable backpack is available in a wide range of colours. Plus, as it’s made from a blend of recycled plastic and canvas, this gives the backpack a sleek feel and makes it weather-resistant and durable. As such, it’s sure to be a trusty everyday travel companion for decades to come.

With a capacity of 15 litres, this backpack features a roll-top opening, adjustable straps and a vegan, leather-like clasp across the front pocket. There are also two side pockets for keeping your essentials close to hand.

3. Stubble & Co.

ethical backpack stubble and co

Key Features

  • Made from recycled materials
  • Built to last
  • Repairable
  • Donates to charity
  • Climate-neutral certified
  • Priced at £195

Why We Rate Stubble & Co.

Stubble & Co’s Adventure Bag is made largely from recycled plastic and is built for anything you can throw at it. Weatherproof and made with comfort and ease of access in mind, this is a bag you can take anywhere.

Whilst not all parts of the bag are made from recycled plastic, Stubble & Co. has only compromised with new materials when the recycled elements would have impacted on the durability of the bag. The parts made from recycled materials have passed stringent performance tests. Therefore you can be sure that your bag is built to last.

The inside of the bag is as clever as the outside. There are an array of organised compartments for all of your belongings, for quick and easy packing and access. You’ll even find special compartments for your shoes, your carry-on toiletries, your laptop, and your water bottle. 

What’s more, there’s even a special compartment for your bank card! Sounds cavernous? You can carry everything you need for a week or more in the Adventure Bag, yet still take it as a carry-on piece of luggage on most major airlines.

4. Vaude

Vaude non toxic rucksack in red

Key Features

  • Vegan-friendly
  • EU Made
  • Easy to repair
  • 5-year warranty
  • Independently certified as non-toxic
  • Utilises zero-waste production practices
  • Prices start from £50

Why We Rate Vaude

Vaude is an ethically conscious German outdoor gear company available in the UK through Amazon.

It offers a huge range of waterproof backpacks for almost every outdoor activity. From backpacking and hiking backpacks to cycling and day and travel backpacks – Vaude make it.

Each and every one of Vaude’s products is characterised by three core principles. These are timeless design, robust materials and simple reparability. In fact, Vaude offers replacement parts and full how-to repair guides. And if that doesn’t work, then its repair service is there to help. Each backpack also comes with a 5-year warranty, for that extra peace of mind.

Repairability isn’t the only ethical consideration Vaude make. Vaude also avoids the use of toxic finishes and materials like PVC and PFCs.

PFC stands for per- and poly-fluorinated chemicals, that are used to weatherproof outdoor gear. For some PFCs, there is evidence that they cause harm to both humans and animals. For more information, see this post from Greenpeace on the issues of PCFs.

Vaude has also been independently certified as non-toxic by both OEKO-TEX and bluesign. Bluesign is an independent verification that certifies that only approved chemicals, processes, materials, and products are used. This means these products are safe for the environment, workers, and customers.

Meanwhile, all of Vaude’s backpacks are ethically made in Germany in climate-neutral facilities. Here waste is kept to an absolute minimum. Unavoidable material remnants are upcycled or auctioned off for a good cause via its eBay upcycling store.

5. Seasalt

Seasalt vegan friendly backpack in yellow

Key Features

  • Vegan-friendly
  • Made from recycled polyester
  • Available in a range of colours
  • Priced £55

Why We Rate Seasalt

If you’re looking for a small sustainable backpack for day trips or for work, then try this jaunty recycled polyester backpack from ethical fashion brand Seasalt.

This Cornish brand was the first fashion company to achieve Soil Association GOTS organic certification in 2005. 18 years later Seasalt continues to bring ethical style to the high street through its use of organic and recycled materials.

This hard-wearing rucksack has a rip-stop weave which means it’s more resistant to rips and tears.

Wide, padded straps can be adjusted to find your perfect fit. Meanwhile, the cushioned panel at the lower back makes it extra comfy for all-day wear. While there are no pockets – just one internal space – it should easily hold all of your daily essentials.

Available in three different colours – yellow, blue and green – you’re sure to find one that matches your style.

6. Got Bag Backpack

Got bag in black, made from recycled ocean plastic

Key Features

  • Vegan-friendly
  • Made from recycled ocean plastic
  • PFC-Free
  • Waterproof
  • 2-year warranty
  • Prices start from £75.95

Why We Rate Got Bag

Got Bag – available at Alpinetrek – takes recycled marine plastic and turns it into stylish day packs and backpacks. In fact, every part of the bag is made from recycled plastic – from the outer shell to the straps and buckles.

Got Bag impressively started its very own ocean clean-up programme in 2016. It began by gathering plastic from the ocean and then recycling and processing it into backpacks. Since then, Got Bag has been able to increase the capacity of its clean-up program and the amount of plastic it collects each month. 

This 31-litre rolltop ethical backpack is a spacious, waterproof backpack with a minimalistic design. With padded back and shoulder straps, you can carry your belongings in comfort.

Speaking of belongings, there’s ample space for almost everything you could wish to carry. Its roomy interior can be expanded or narrowed using the side flaps. Meanwhile, the practical roll-top closure protects the contents from the elements.

A zipped outer pocket provides quick access to your keys, mobile phone and more. A zipped inner pocket also keeps your other important valuables safe and secure.

This backpack also comes with a removable 15″ laptop sleeve that cushions your computer from bumps. As you would expect, it’s also made from recycled ocean plastic.

Get £5 off your first order when you sign up for the Alpinetrek newsletter.

7. Bagmaya | AD

bagmaya ethical backpacks in green

Key Features

  • Vegan-friendly
  • Made from 100% hemp
  • Available in four colours
  • 10% of profits are donated to charity
  • Bagmaya plants a tree with every order
  • Arrives in plastic-free packaging
  • Priced £64.95
  • 60-day guarantee

Why We Rate Bagmaya

If you’re after a multipurpose bag that will serve you well for weekend trips away, as well as a stylish backpack for carrying your laptop and lunch to work or university, then do check out Bagmaya.

Available in four colours, its 25L vegan Dakhla Backpack has been ethically made by hand in Nepal from 100% natural hemp. It has a padded internal compartment for laptops up to 17”. What’s more, it has handy secret pockets in the back and on the strap. The latter is particularly useful for keeping your bank card or travel pass close to hand on your travels.

For extra environmental points, Baymaya offers free shipping within the UK in plastic-free packaging. Bagmaya also donates 10% of its profits to Yuwa, a Nepalese youth empowerment charity.

8. Fjallraven Tree-Kanken

Fjallraven tree-kanken ethical backpack in yellow

Key Features

  • Vegan-friendly
  • Made from wood-based cellulose fibres
  • PFC-free
  • Available in a variety of colours
  • Priced around £70

Why We Rate Fjallraven

If you are looking for something practical to tote your daily belongings around, then Fjallraven has pretty much cornered the market judging by the number I see around Edinburgh every day!

The Fjallraven Tree-Kanken ethical vegan backpack – available at Ellis Brigham – is made from wood-based cellulose fibres, from sustainably managed Swedish forests. This is part of Fjallraven’s look into alternatives to fossil fuel-based raw materials.

Packed with practical features, this 16-litre backpack is sure to be a firm favourite for everyday use. There’s a flat front pocket with a vertical zipper for corraling smaller items. Meanwhile, the main compartment has an internal sleeve and removable foam seat pad, which can double as padding for your back. Finally, the adjustable base straps at the bottom make it easy to carry an extra layer or a yoga mat.

9. Patagonia

patagonia recycled polyester backpack

Key Features

  • Ethically made from recycled materials
  • Free repairs
  • PFC-free
  • Prices start from £50

Why We Rate Patagonia

Ethical retailer Patagonia – available at Ellis Brigham – has a great choice of ethical backpacks. Whether you are looking for a day pack for everyday usage or a larger rucksack for travelling or hiking, Patagonia is sure to have you covered.

Patagonia is a brand that truly lives and breathes the great outdoors and sustainability, so it’s hard to pick just one backpack as the best. Instead, I’d recommend looking through its range to find the most appropriate one for your needs.

Most of Patagonia’s range of backpacks, like this Ironwood 20L Backpack, pictured above, are made from recycled materials. This one in particular is made from 600-denier 100% recycled polyester. It’s a sturdy and ethical choice for any outdoor adventure, travel, or commute.

Any Patagonia backpack is a strong ethical choice. The brand’s mission statement is “Build the best product, do no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”

And indeed, Patagonia stands strong to this statement. With strong labour rights, and the use of sustainable fabrics, such as recycled, rather than virgin, polyester, the brand is also committed to reducing its energy use and emissions. It also offers a handy recycling program and offers free repairs on all of its products.

10. Cotopaxi

Cotopaxi recycled backpack in red

Key Features

  • Made from recycled fabrics
  • Durable fabric
  • Available in a range of colours and sizes
  • Gives back to charity
  • Priced from £80 upwards

Why We Rate Cotopaxi

Cotopaxi – available at Wildbounds – makes a fantastic range of ethical backpacks for a whole range of purposes. From commuting and short trips to holidays, camping trips and hikes, there’s a backpack for you. These range in size from smaller 13-litre daypacks, right through to cavernous 70-litre backpacks for backpacking.

What we love about Cotopaxi is that all of its backpacks are sustainably made from a mix of recycled and repurposed nylon and polyester ripstop fabrics. These durable yet eco-friendly fabrics will really stand up to all of the adventures you can throw at them.

Not convinced about its durability? Cotopaxi is. It offers a generous lifetime warranty for all of its backpacks. Plus Cotopaxi offers a repair programme should your bag develop a rip, tear or other repairable fault.

That’s a look into the ethical rucksack landscape. Hopefully, you have been able to find the right backpack for you. I add more brands as I find them, so even if you haven’t found anything that fits the bill this time, do check back later for more recommendations. You can also check out my handy guide to ethical bags for more brand suggestions.

And if you found this post useful then you might also enjoy my guide to ethical clothing brands for women and ethical clothing brands for men

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