Driving down an open desert road with mountains in the background

Best Sustainable Backpacks for Eco-Friendly Travel

Charli Moore Nov 01, 2022

By making a conscious decision to buy an eco-friendly backpack for college made by a brand committed to sustainable and ethical manufacturing practices, you can help to limit waste, reduce pollution, and support fair wages for workers.


Here’s what to look for when choosing sustainable and eco-friendly backpacks


Form and function

Ultimately anything you purchase needs to be fit for purpose, so make a list of things you need from your pack aside from its green credentials. Does it need to hold a certain size laptop? Does it have enough room for all your college books and a packed lunch? Make a list of your requirements and keep them in mind when searching for the best eco-friendly backpacks.

Quality and durability

Unlike cheaper alternatives that are made of poor quality fabrics, high-quality and durable backpacks limit waste because they’re made to last a lifetime. Often constructed from natural or recycled materials, the best eco-friendly backpack brands also offer a lifetime warranty that offers full coverage for manufacturing defects and a repair scheme for general wear and tear on their packs.

Recycled, sustainable, and natural materials

Non-toxic materials are much less damaging to the planet and recycled fabrics have a smaller carbon footprint than virgin materials. If sourced and produced ethically, natural materials like organic cotton and vegetable-tanned leather can also be eco-friendly as well as durable.

Ethical manufacturing

In addition to the planet-positive credentials of materials used in the manufacture of an eco-friendly backpack, a key aspect of sustainability to consider is ethical manufacturing. The best sustainable backpack brands, like JanSport, show transparency throughout their entire manufacturing process, support fair wages for workers, and show commitment to working toward a greener future.


Why you should consider buying a recycled backpack

Recycled backpacks are often made from surplus materials that would have otherwise gone into landfill, or are fabrics made from 100% recycled polyester. Both reduce the overall carbon-cost of manufacture. As one of the easiest ways to live more sustainably and help the environment every day is to reduce the amount of waste you create, choosing a backpack made from recycled materials is a major win for the planet.


What makes JanSport backpacks sustainable?

Low-cost backpacks that are produced cheaply and indiscriminately of environmental and labor costs come at a catastrophic cost to the natural environment and offer a false sense of economy. This is because although they retail at a lower price they’re likely to wear out after minimal use and need replacing, creating more landfill waste and further fueling the cycle of disposable, fast fashion.

So what actually makes JanSport backpacks sustainable? Committed to sustainability and supporting initiatives we care deeply about, here at JanSport we incorporate renewable energy sources into our supply chains, design our products to be PVC free, use 600 denier recycled polyester and surplus fabrics to create our designs, and feature 100% recycled FSC paper in our packaging. We do this to increase the life and reduce the carbon-cost of our products.


How to find a durable and sustainable backpack

From pack to impact, JanSport backpacks are designed to last, to go everywhere you go, to see what you see, and to carry what you need. All our bags come with a limited lifetime warranty. Because good stuff should last. If one of our bags breaks, we’ll replace it or fix it. No questions asked.


What materials are JanSport backs made of?

Our commitment to using sustainable materials is twofold. First, we make all our eco-friendly backpacks from a recycled blend fabrics and 100% Recycled Cordura® fabric (made from recycled plastic waste such as water and soda bottles). Second, our Surplus Collection rescues surplus materials before they hit the factory room floor and transforms them into one of our classic designs with the future in mind.


Our best sustainable backpacks


The Recycled SuperBreak®

Made with Mother Nature in mind, the recycled SuperBreak® is constructed from 100% recycled materials and represents our vision of sustainable adventures with minimal waste. In tandem with construction from 100% Recycled Cordura® this eco-conscious backpack also uses 100% Recycled Nylon webbing and cording in the detailing and 100% Recycled polyester labels.

Shop our Recycled SuperBreak

Surplus Ski N Hike

With its generous main compartment, haul handle and adjustable straps, the Surplus Ski N Hike backpack harkens back to simpler times and levels up for the planet with its surplus fabric, hardware, and zipper construction.

Shop our Surplus Ski N Hike

Gnarly Gnapsack 30

A durable backpack perfect for even the most off-beat adventures, the Gnarly Gnapsack 30 is built to last using eco-friendly fabrics. Its large main and secondary compartments are constructed using 300 Denier Recycled Ripstop Poly and 600 Denier Recycled Poly, and a hardwearing and wipeable TPU Coated 600 Denier material protects the bottom so you can confidently set it down in any terrain.

Shop our Gnarly Gnapsack

By choosing a sustainable backpack that’s hardwearing, hardworking, constructed from recycled or surplus materials, and built to last, you’re investing in a backpack that you’ll carry for a lifetime. But, it being sustainable and eco-friendly doesn’t stop with your shopping and purchasing, there are many ways to get involved with the climate change movement, to effect positive change, and on a daily level, lots of ways to make your college life more eco-friendly too. It all starts with you.