On The Go: Sustainable backpacks for every occasion

Sustainable, minimalist backpacks are functional, environmentally friendly and even really chic! Here's what to look for and where to get them

sustainable backpack by GOT BAG
Source & Copyright by GOT BAG

Author: July Becker

  • Sustainable backpacks are alternatives to conventionally manufactured backpacks
  • Materials range from recycled polyester to vegetable-tanned leather to natural cotton
  • Numerous manufacturers specialize in fair, minimalist backpacks or ethical limited editions

Sustainable backpacks: what distinguishes them and what are their advantages?

The handbag is no longer without an alternative. In recent years, backpacks have made the leap from practical everyday companions to modern and functional it-pieces. There are several reasons for this. Sustainable backpacks are also included.

On the one hand, many backpacks offer significantly more storage space than handbags. So the water bottle fits in the luggage and the laptop does not need an extra carrying bag. On the other hand, backpacks are much more back-friendly and more comfortable than a handbag that can be carried on one side due to their shape.

In the meantime, well-known high-end fashion labels have also started to feature vivid as well as minimalist backpacks in their collections. Since then, the casual chic backpack even appears on the world's great catwalks. It doesn't matter whether these are sustainable backpacks for women and men or fair, sustainable backpacks for children.

What makes a backpack fair and sustainable?

There are plenty of backpacks out there, but only a handful are sustainable. What criteria are there for fair and sustainable backpacks? A backpack is sustainable if it has one or, at best, several of the following properties:

  • Use of a sustainable and natural materials
  • Water, energy and CO2-efficient and resource-saving production
  • Fair trade

Basically, the same applies as for clothing: if the backpack is too cheap, it cannot really be a sustainable and ethical. Productions that are sustainable and socially justifiable are more costly and time-consuming than those of fast fashion.

Man on a mountain with a sustainable backpack

Advantages of sustainable backpacks

  • Longevity due to high quality materials and processing
  • Climate protection by dispensing with toxic adhesives and dyes
  • Adequate working conditions and payments for artisans

Spoiled for choice: How to find the best sustainable backpack

The first question to ask yourself when buying a sustainable backpack is: What do I need this backpack for? As an everyday companion or as an elegant statement piece for the office? Should it be suitable for a short vacation or a multi-day hiking trip in the wilderness?

Different backpacks meet different needs. The following numbers provide an overview of how much capacity a backpack should have in which situation:

  1. Backpack for school and university: A sustainable daypack with a capacity of 20 to 40 liters fits this.
  2. Backpack for the gym: 10 to 35 liters. The more sports equipment is required, the greater the capacity.
  3. Backpack for traveling: A hiking backpack is necessary for this occasion. A hiking backpack is far more ergonomic than a daypack and is designed for longer wearing times. Hiking backpacks can hold up to 80 liters.

Of course, the capacity is always an individual decision. Some people prefer to carry all sorts of little things with them in everyday life. Others actually only have their cell phones and wallets with them. Some like to be prepared for any eventuality while traveling, others prefer to pack only a sleeping bag and a compass. Whether you wear it a lot or as a pragmatist - ultimately your body size also determines the size of your backpack.

The right fit is also important. The backpack should always match the length of your upper body. Otherwise your back, shoulders and neck will hurt very quickly. Many backpacks have adjustable hip and shoulder straps and therefore fit several upper body lengths. So if you are rather small, you don't have to take a small backpack automatically.

Materials for sustainable backpacks

Sustainable backpacks are made from a wide variety of materials. Here are some advantages and disadvantages:

Table with advantages and disadvantages for backpack material

Purchase criteria for sustainable backpacks

In addition to the right size and the associated comfort of a backpack, there are a few things to consider so that you can enjoy the new backpack for a long time:

  • The style should match your own style and be easy to combine
  • Most of the time, signs of wear first appear on the shoulder straps. There should be stable double seams
  • At best, a manufacturer who gives a guarantee on the backpack should be chosen
  • The material from which the backpack is made should fit the occasion. So, for example, if you ride the bicycle and like to get out in the rain, keep your hands off cotton and linen backpacks.

Sustainable and minimalist backpacks: Top brands with style

  1. Ecoalf
  2. Got bag
  3. Sandqvist
  4. Patagonia
  5. Ucon Acrobatics

Whether sustainable backpacks for women, men or children - there are now many manufacturers on the market. The following list provides information about the backpack types and highlights of the respective brand.

1. Ecoalf

Ecoalf is a well-known label for sustainable fashion. The brand's range includes a huge selection of fair and sustainable backpacks in terms of size, occasion and design. Ecoalf works with recycled polyester from plastic bottles and recycled cotton. In addition, all products come with the REACH standard excellent. This means that all products made with chemicals have been tested for their harmlessness.

ecoalf sustainable backpack made of econyl

Company location: Spain

Highlight: The Ecoalf Foundation, which is committed to the (re) use of all types of waste

Where to buy: In the Ecoalf online shop and in our own flagship stores worldwide

2. Patagonia

Patagonia is one of the best-known brands for outdoor equipment and a pioneer in sustainability. From daypacks to hiking rucksacks, everyone will find something suitable. The backpacks from the Black Hole collection are made from 100 percent recycled plastic bottles. Other backpacks are made from recycled nylon. All backpacks are colored with a solution that produces 96 percent less CO2 than conventional colors.

black sustainable backpack from ptagonia

Company location: USA

Highlight: Patagonia is Fair Trade certified and donates more than one percent of sales to charity

Where to buy: In the Patagonia online shop and in our own stores worldwide

3. Got Bag

The principle of Got bag is as simple as it is ingenious: a network of XNUMX fishermen fishes plastic from the sea. Got Bag then processes this sea plastic into stylish, XNUMX% waterproof, sustainable and minimalist backpacks. Around XNUMX kilograms of sea plastic are processed for a backpack. So if you buy a got bag, you automatically do something good for the environment. In addition to the classic rolltop backpack, the collection also includes a smaller daypack and a weekender.

Man with backpack from got bag

Company location: Germany

Highlight: A two-year guarantee on the waterproof backpacks

Where to buy: In the Got Bag online shop with international delivery

4. Sandqvist

Bags and backpacks from Sandqvist should be worn for a lifetime. That is the stated aim of the Swedish company. That is why we have our own repair shops where an outdated Sandqvist backpack can either be repaired or given for recycling. The design of the sustainable backpacks is timeless and at the same time varied. Sustainable materials are used Cotton Fabrics as well as vegetable tanned leather for use.

sustainable backpack

Company location: Sweden

Highlight: The company's own repair shops

Where to buy: In the Sandqvist online shop with international delivery

5. Ucon Acrobatics

Ucon Acrobatics is a German start-up that produces vegan, minimalist backpacks from sustainable materials. You are an official partner of PETA, work with the children's rights organization "Save the Children" and focus on sustainable entrepreneurship. Only ecologically recycled PET materials without AZO dyes or heavy metals are used. The backpacks are available in many different sizes, with capacities from 1 to 33 liters. This also includes casual cross-body bags in numerous colors.

Blue backpack from Ucon Acrobatics

Company location: Germany

Highlight: Minimalist style with a focus on sustainable entrepreneurship

Where to buy: In the Ucon Acrobatics online shop with EU delivery

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