Looking for an ethical backpack? Well, lucky you! I have done some research and found ten lovely ethical backpacks for men and for women for your consideration:
10 Ethical Backpacks
In order to contribute to the site’s running costs, the brands listed below may have paid a fee to be featured in this post and it may contain affiliate links. As always, Moral Fibres only features brands we truly believe are making eco-friendly and sustainable choices.
1. Fjallraven Re-Kanken Backpack
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 Re-Kanken* ethical vegan backpack is made entirely from polyester recycled from plastic bottles. What’s more, it can even be recycled at the end of its life. Expect to shell out around £80.
2. Baggu Recycled Canvas Backpack
If you’re looking for a sustainable backpack for weekend or day trips, then try this jaunty Baggu Recycled Canvas Backpack.
As well as being vegan-friendly, Baggu’s bags are designed to last. Baggu says that “we want every bag we make to live a long, productive life so we prioritize quality, ensuring our materials and construction hold up over time and age with character.”
The stripe version is no longer available but I have found other colourways on Amazon* instead.
3. Timbuk2 Leader Ethical Backpack
If you’re in the market for something a little more outdoorsy then this Timbuk2 Leader Backpack might do the trick? It’s available direct from Timbuk2 UK for £84. What I love is that All Timbuk2 products have a lifetime warranty and are hand-sewn in the US. What’s more, there is the opportunity to buy spare parts if you need to replace something on your bag.
2022 update – the backpack is no longer available on the Timbuk2 website. Meanwhile, shipping to the UK from the EU can be quite pricey due to Brexit. The best UK selection of Timbuk2 bags I have found that ships from the UK is on Amazon*.
4. Roka Canfield Vegan Backpack
The Roka Canfield vegan-friendly ethical backpack is sustainably made from around 12 to15 recycled plastic bottles that have been found on beaches.
Being made from a blend of recycled plastic and canvas, this gives the backpack a sleek feel and makes it weather-resistant and durable. 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.
Available in a wide range of colours, you can buy the Roka’s Canfield Sustainable Backpack from Paperchase from £65*.
5. BearMade’s Gouthwaite Ethical Backpack
BearMade’s mission is simple: to get people outdoors, and to produce British-made bags that tread lightly on the planet. They excel at this. The BearMade’s Gouthwaite Backpack (£195) is made from water-resistant dry-waxed canvas that is Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified. This means that every stage of its production – from the growing and harvesting of the organic cotton, through to the manufacturing is carried out in a socially and environmentally responsible manner.
The Gouthwaite rucksack has a roomy 23L capacity for all of your belongings. It has a handy zippered internal pouch for valuables, and its additional padded laptop sleeve fits up to a 15-inch laptop. What’s more, it meets major airline carry-on requirements.
BearMade also offers a lifetime guarantee. As part of this, they offer a free repairs service covering defects in workmanship and materials for the lifetime of the product. It doesn’t cover general wear and tear, but if they can fix your bag they always will (for a fair price).
What’s more, BearMade put aside funds to offset the carbon of the equivalent of 59 BearMade bags for every one sold. That means for every Gouthwaite backpack sold, BearMade will plant 20 trees. If that wasn’t enough of a positive impact, 10% of sales from BearMade’s products fund free unique wild workshops. From fly fishing to foraging, to cycling and group hikes.
Buy via BearMade’s website.
6. Vaude Recycled Vegan Backpack
Vaude is an ethically conscious German outdoor gear company that, offers a huge range of waterproof backpacks for almost every outdoor activity. From backpacking backpacks to hiking backpacks, to cycling backpacks, to alpine backpacks, as well as day and travel backpacks – Vaude make it.
Vaude says their products are characterised by a 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 their repair service is there to help. Each back also comes with a 5-year warranty, for that extra peace of mind.
Repairability isn’t the only ethical consideration Vaude make. They avoid the use of toxic finishes and materials like PVC and PFCs. Vaude has also been independently certified as non-toxic by both OEKO-TEX and bluesign.
All of Vaude’s backpacks are ethically made in Germany, in climate-neutral facilities. Waste is also kept to an absolute minimum. Unavoidable material remnants are used to make upcycled products, or they auction them off for a good cause via their eBay upcycling store.
Find a huge range of Vaude Backpacks at AlpineTrek*.
7. Stubble & Co’s Ethical Backpack
Stubble & Co’s Adventure Bag, made largely from recycled plastic, 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.
Not all parts of the bag are made from recycled plastic. Stubble & Co have 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 find special compartments for your shoes, your carry-on toiletries, your laptop, 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, and still take it as a carry-on piece of luggage on most major airlines.
Find the Adventure Bag for £185 direct from Stubble & Co.
8. Patagonia Ironwood Backpack
If you want real peace of mind when you buy an ethical backpack then definitely cast your eyes towards ethical retailer Patagonia. Click on the returns and repair section of Patagonia’s website and you’re presented with a reassuring statement informing you that “you can return Items(s) you bought on Patagonia.com within 100 years of the date of receipt of the item(s). For returns past 100 years, please see our IronClad Guarantee“. You can then return it for repair, replacement, or refund. They also offer a recycling program for added green points.
Most of Patagonia’s range of backpacks, like this Ironwood 20L Backpack (£55) 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.
9. Bagmaya’s Dakhla Backpack
If you’re after a multipurpose bag that will serve you well for weekend trips away, as well as a stylish backpack for transporting your laptop and lunch to work or university, then do check out Bagmaya.
Available in three colours, their 22L vegan Dakhla Backpack has been ethically handcrafted 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 carbon-neutral shipping within the UK in plastic-free packaging. They also donate 10% of their profits to Yuwa, a Nepalese youth empowerment charity.
It costs £64.95 and comes with a 60-day no-questions-asked money-back guarantee.
10. Millican’s Roll Pack
And lastly, Millican makes a lovely range of ethical backpacks for a whole range of purposes, from commuting and short trips to longer excursions.
This 15L roll pack (£115) is made from “Dalton Canvas”. This is a hardwearing, lightweight, and waterproof canvas that is made from a 100% recycled polyester fabric made from post-consumer waste. This includes plastic recovered from shorelines, waterways, and coastal communities.
It’s also PFC-free. PFC stands for per- and poly-fluorinated chemicals, that are used to weatherproof outdoor gear. These chemicals accumulate in the environment, and for some PFCs there is evidence that they cause harm to both the hormonal and reproductive systems in both humans and animals, as well as being carcinogenic. Greenpeace has written more on the issues of PCFs if you wish to find out more.
As well as being PFC, the fabric is also bluesign approved. This is an independent verification that certifies that in each step in the textile supply chain only approved chemicals, processes, materials, and products are used. This means these products are safe for the environment, workers, and customers.
That’s a look into the ethical rucksack landscape.
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. I also have handy guides to ethical jackets and ethical hats that might be up your street!