Which brand makes the best durable backpack for back to school?

Whether you’re getting ready for back to school, heading out for a hike, or just need a bag to take to the office, everyone can benefit from purchasing one of the best durable backpacks.

Most backpacks are not recyclable due to the many parts and textiles used (think metal zippers, a mix of cotton, canvas, nylon, PVC, polyester, polypropylene, etc.). But many Americans buy backpacks every year – we collectively bought 174 million in 2015, The New York Times reported – and unfortunately most of them end up in landfills.

If you are looking for a new backpack, it is better to go for one of the best durable backpacks. After all, sustainable backpacks are made ethically, often prioritize recycling over virgin materials, and are durable enough to last a long time.

To find the best durable backpacks, Newsweek took a deep dive into three main categories: Best Overall Sustainable Backpack, Best Sustainable Backpack Made From Recycled Materials, and Best Sustainable Vegan Backpack. Keep reading for the best backpack picks!

The best durable backpack

Terra Thread Everyday Organic Cotton Backpack

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Terra Thread is a Fair Trade certified B Corp company, and its everyday organic cotton backpack is made without GMOs, toxic dyes or chemicals.
EARTH HEROES

For our top pick of sustainable backpacks, this is hands down Terra Thread’s Everyday Organic Cotton Backpack. Made with GOTS-certified and fair trade certified organic cotton, this backpack – available in 14 different colors, including the lavender pictured above – is free of genetically modified organisms, toxic dyes and chemicals. It’s roomy enough to hold a 13-15 inch laptop (which even has its own compartment), has two side water bottle pockets, an interior hanging pocket, and a large front pocket with zipper. .

Why did he make our first choice? Many sustainable backpacks are made from recycled materials; Terra Thread is the leader in sustainable backpacks made from 100% organic cotton. Plus, they take advantage of low-impact dyes (usually toxin-free) and the company is also carbon neutral.

Certified B Corporation, Terra Thread also provides meals to needy American children, families and seniors through Feeding America. A single backpack purchase equals 20 meals!

Buy from Earth Hero for $69.95.

The best recycled backpack

Tentee Mobius 35L Backpack

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Made from 100% recycled materials, Tentree also plants a tree for every purchase of the Mobius 35L backpack.
ENTRY

Made from 100% Repreve polyester, the Tentree Mobius 35L backpack is known for its practical functionality. After all, it’s a 4-in-1 backpack. Tentree sustainability sources the recycled materials needed to create the Mobius 35L – recycled fibers and materials like plastic bottles, textile waste, clothing recycled materials and fishing nets, to name a few.

The Tentree Mobius 35L Backpack is our top choice for sustainable backpacks made with recycled materials because unlike other “recycled” bags, this one is made from 100% recycled materials. Others call it 75% or 80%, but Tentree prioritizes fabrics made from recycled materials, and the company plants a tree with every purchase. With adjustable shoulder straps to your preferred fit, the Mobius 35L backpack features a dual access zip or roll-top closure, recycled trim made from post-industrial waste, and exterior pockets. It even has a designated compartment for your 15-inch laptop.

Tentree also offers transparency about its safe and fair labor practices and sustainable manufacturing processes.

Buy from Tentree for $128.

The best vegan backpack

Lisbon cork backpack

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Fair Trade Certified and sustainably handmade in Portugal, the Lisbon Cork Backpack is made from PETA certified vegan cork.
TRADE MADE

Calling all vegans! What we don’t like is how many durable backpack companies use leather. Sure, they source it ethically and sustainably and even tan it with vegetables to get the preferred color, but at the end of the day, it’s still leather. The Lisbon Cork Backpack is by far a better option!

A women-owned company, Tiradia Cork Fair Trade, handcrafts the Lisbon Cork backpack from PETA-certified vegan natural cork. Responsibly assembled in Aveiro, Portugal, the style of the backpack itself makes the structural and modern design cool again. It is hypoallergenic, antimicrobial, waterproof, lightweight, biodegradable, recyclable and durable enough to last a lifetime. In addition, it is very easy to maintain: simply wipe it with a damp cloth and let it air dry!

The Lisbon Cork backpack also features an exterior zip pocket, an interior open pocket to organize your belongings and an interior zip pocket.

Buy from Made Trade for $125.

Newsweek’s Green Awards highlight companies and products that use sustainable and ethical business practices and deliver exceptional quality, service and value. The assessment focuses on three key areas; measurable sustainability practices certified by trusted organizations, product or service quality and overall value. Learn more.

Newsweek may earn a commission from links on this page, but we only recommend products that we support. We participate in various affiliate marketing programs, which means that we may receive commissions on editorially selected products purchased through our links to retailer sites.

About Alma Ackerman

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