Upvoted: the best sustainable backpacks for an eco-friendly everyday carry

Roam like a responsible hauler with these recycled sacks

You can’t carry the world on your shoulders, but you can shoulder responsibility for the state of it. 

Case in point: your backpack. The longer you keep your trusty two-strap, the more economical its existence becomes and the less manufacturing waste enters the system. Good job.

Problem is, there comes a time when even the most treasured of tatty totes has to go. Usually when a strap has snapped, you’re missing two zips and there are too many mystery stains to count.

Ready for a replacement rucksack? Stick with the green theme and pack something sustainable. From plastic bottles to surplus fabric, each of the bags below is sustainably made from eco-friendly materials that prevent potential pollution from harming the planet – perfect for conscientious carriers.

Plastic bags

The Scandi revamp: Fjällräven Re-Kånken (£90)

As '90s dance-pop outfit Aqua proved with Barbie Girl, plastic is the perfect material for a Scandi classic. Same goes for this eco version of Fjällräven’s best-selling sack: featuring all the functional style and bold saturation of the standard edition, the Re-Kånken’s polyester shell is crafted from recycled plastic bottles. It’s fantastic.

The guilt-free tripper: Bellroy Transit Backpack (£215)

Planes put a strain on the planet, but sometimes you’ve got to fly. Use this 28-litre sack as your carry-on and its water-resistant shell – fabricated from recycled plastic bottles – should at least offset some carbon. Its main compartment can take a weekend’s worth of gear, while a raft of external pockets make stashing your travel necessities a cinch.

The waste-free messenger: Lefrik Capsule (£58)

Reprocessing tech is now so effective that you can’t tell recycled polyester from the standard stuff. Luckily, this stylish two-strap from Lefrik makes things clear with a sewn message: “I used to be a plastic bottle.” Divided inside for handy stashing and equipped with a back pocket for quick access to key particulars, it’s ideal for a greener daily grind.

Surplus sacks

The refashioned jacket: Finisterre Packaway Rucksack (£35)

Surplus is an inevitable part of crafting clothes. That’s why the garment-making gang at Finisterre started their fabric use-up project, turning scrap material into useful gear – like this 25-litre rucksack. Made from 100% recycled ripstop polyester that was originally meant for jackets, it packs down tiny into its own pocket.

The patchwork pack: Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Del Dia (€215)

Not a fan of standard colourways? For a distinctive sack that matches your sustainable style, try this technicolour number: sewn using excess fabric from mass-production, pick a colour and one of Cotopaxi’s stitchers in the Philippines will build a bespoke bag featuring your selected shade. Robust, comfortable and practical to boot, each custom carrier comes equipped with a plethora of pockets, sleeves and mesh compartments, while its 35-litre capacity is a boon for one-bag travellers.

The leftover lugger: 66 North Backpack (€130)

Trim fabric for a raincoat and you’ll likely end up with lots of little leftovers. You could use the spare bits to make a matching mac for your pet mouse. Or, like 66 North, you could create a rugged daypack. Less cute than a rodent coat but, with a waterproof shell, 15-litre capacity and quilted lining, a lot more practical.

Recycled rucksacks

The heritage hauler: Patagonia Arbor Classic Pack (€80)

Patagonia’s been recycling polyester for its gear since 1993. Celebrate that commendable record with this retro-chic sack, made from fabric woven with plastic bottles, manufacturing waste and old garments. Its throwback exterior is waterproof and harbours a sleeve that’ll take both laptops and hydration packs, so it’s as good in the great outdoors as it is for the office.

The trucker’s tote: M-24 Medium Rolltop (£75)

If it’s tough enough to sheathe the sides of lorries, it stands to reason that tarpaulin can handle some hardcore hauling in backpack form. M-24 trims down old tarps, gives them a good scrub and forms them into roll-top companions that can go the distance. Each is completely unique, with straps fashioned from cargo webbing.

The green guardian: Pacsafe Vibe 25 Econyl ($130)

Fabricating a backpack from banana leaves might be the most renewable way to lug your gear, but one slash from a ne’er-do-well and your ethical possessions will be gone for good. For more secure sustainability, try Pacsafe’s slash-proof pack: equipped with locking zips and an anchor strap, its reinforced shell is formed from Econyl regenerated nylon, sourced from fishing nets, carpet tiles and industrial plastic.