This post may contain affiliate / compensated links. For full information, please see my disclaimer here.

Last Updated on 11/07/2021

From carbon emissions to plastic waste, travel has an undeniable environmental impact. Luckily, our wanderlust ways can be mitigated, and it starts with what we pack – or in this instance, our suitcases!

Buying eco-friendly travel bags from ethical luggage brands not only reduces the carbon footprint of your trip, but it supports a kinder treatment of people and planet – whether it’s responsibly sourced materials, ethical supply chains or less waste in landfills. 

Sustainable luggage is practical, versatile and lasts a lifetime. You only need to buy once and you’re set. 

So, want to pack a lighter footprint? Keep reading to discover why eco-friendly bags are essential to a low impact trip and my picks for the best bags of the year!

My picks for the best eco friendly and ethical luggage brands

Eco-friendly travel bags comparison table 

11 best eco-friendly travel bags 2021

Person wearing an eco-friendly backpack on their travels.

Here are the best eco-friendly bags for all your travel needs. 

Whether you’re backpacking, hiking, going on a weekend city break, there’s a travel bag for every occasion. 

Each one has been chosen for its eco-credentials, durable design and practicality. There is a range of price points to browse too. 

1. Osprey Europe

Osprey arcane duffel, part of the brand's eco-friendly range.

Osprey are champions of durable backpacks that last no matter where your travels take you. The Arcane Unisex Duffel is my favourite of their new ethical luggage line. 

This bag is designed to be your lightweight companion for a weekend away. Its dimensions (47L / 31W / 27D) are perfectly suited for carry-on luggage for most airlines. 

Although this bag isn’t as big as other bags on the list, it still boasts a suitcase-style opening which makes packing a dream with the help of a few packing cubes. 

It also has a comfortable backpanel with foam ridges, backpack straps and a grab handle on the side so you can carry it in multiple ways. No tension headaches with this one. Plus, roomy inside pockets and a well-padded sleeve allows you to carry electronics securely. 

Editor’s tip: if you want durability with a bigger size, I recommend the Fairview 40 (Farpoint 40 for men). It’s an ideal carry-on backpack with plenty of pockets! 

Ethical and sustainable practices

Materials: 

The most exciting feature of Osprey’s Arcane Duffel isn’t its sleek design, but the fact that it’s part of a new eco-friendly luggage range. 

The bag is made from 100% recycled fabrics including post-consumer and post-industrial waste. Everything from plastic bottles to plastic manufacturing materials are woven together to create a durable, weatherproof material. 

Each bag in the Arcane series recycles 10 plastic bottles. By the end of 2020, they prevented 300,000 plastic bottles from ending up in European landfills alone!

Arcane’s eco-friendly features don’t stop there. Most outdoor gear has been treated with artificial chemicals (PFCs) to make them waterproof. The problem is PFCs aren’t biodegradable.

Arcane is Osprey’s first range with a PFC-free Durable Water Repellent coating, something they hope to implement across all their products. 

Supply chain: 

Osprey has partnered with the Worldwide Ethical Alliance to ensure that factory audits are performed with transparency and compliance. 

Charity work:

Osprey are members of the European Outdoor Conservation Association. One project they’ve supported included clearing barbed wire from fragile mountain habitats across Europe. 

2. Paravel 

Paravel checked luggage suitcase.

Paravel is here to make your sustainable packing a breeze. They’ve got everything from duffels to suitcases. If you’re unsure, you can take their quiz to help you find the bag for you. 

For a sophisticated eco-friendly travel bag, the hands-down winner is the Aviator Grand. Designed for checked luggage (although you can get carry-on sizes in the same set!), the Aviator has an ‘impossibly smooth’ steel bearing and a ‘scuff-hiding’ finish to handle whatever your travels throw at it.

It’s also TSA-approved and equipped with plenty of space-saving pockets and interior compression if you have a tendency to overpack. 

Better still? The Aviator is completely carbon-neutral. An additional .33 tonnes of carbon emissions are donated to help offset your first trip with it in tow too. 

Ethical and sustainable practices  

Materials: 

The Aviator has a durable recycled polycarbonate exterior shell. The lining is made from no less than 21 recycled plastic bottles. 

Its handle is made from recycled, aircraft-grade aluminium and even its zips are recycled. All leather style detailing is vegan. 

Supply chain:

Paravel maintains a published Code of Social Responsibility that covers topics such as no child or forced labour, a dignified workplace, fair wages and environmental protection. 

All suppliers must also keep an on-site record and be willing to undergo inspections to prove that they make ethical travel bags. 

Charity work: 

All carbon offsets support a wind farm project in Rajasthan, India, through Gold Standard. Money goes towards renewable energy, stable jobs, clean water, healthcare and education. 

3. Lefrik 

Lefrik the Maverick Travel Pack product image.

Lefrik has become one of the top brands for sustainable travel bags. 

If you want a decent size, go for the Maverick Travel Pack. Available in two styles, the Maverick is a wheeled backpack that’s perfect for both urban and outdoor settings. You can tuck the shoulder straps in the back pocket when you’re using the wheels. 

There’s ample space in this bag to pack for a weekend or a week-long trip. You’ve also got mesh dividers and pockets to make the most of. 

If you’re packing light, the bag can be folded to 50x33x18 cm to suit a carry-on luggage size. 

Ethical and sustainable practices  

Materials:

All of Lefrik’s bags are made from 100% recycled polyester fabric from PET plastic bottles. 

The Maverick itself saves 30 plastic bottles. All bags have a durable and waterproof coating. All linings are recycled polyester. 

Supply chain:

Lefrik keeps a detailed transparency report that holds suppliers to account through inspections, audits and health and safety checks.  

Charity work:

They are members of 1% For The Planet, a network of businesses that donate at least 1% of their yearly profits to environmental causes. 

4. Everyday Plastic Tote Bag

Everyday Plastic tote bag.

Tote bags are handy travel essentials. You can tuck them in your suitcase and use them for shopping, going to the beach or as a lightweight day bag. So why not do some good while you’re at it? 

The Everyday Plastic Tote Bag is arguably the best eco-friendly tote bag for travel because all proceeds go to funding an organisation that’s fighting plastic waste. 

Everyday Plastic runs reports and education programmes to help us find practical ways to reduce our reliance on single-use plastic. 

At 420mm x 370mm x 100mm, the tote is a decent size for all your needs. Plus, you can colour it in. 

Ethical and sustainable practices  

Materials: 

The tote is made from 100% certified organic and Fairtrade cotton canvas from India. 

Supply chain: 

Fairtrade and printed in the UK. 

Charity work: 

Everyday Plastic is a nonprofit organisation that fights single-use plastic. Projects include surveys, reports, talks and workshops. 

5. Patagonia 

Patagonia Black Hole duffel bag with a fish pattern on it.

A leader in eco-friendly outdoor gear, Patagonia’s famous Black Hole® duffel bags are a fan favourite for their durability and stylish design. 

There is a range of duffel sizes to suit your needs from 26L up to 100L. You also have plenty of colours to choose from on top of wheeled and non-wheeled versions. 

These eco-friendly duffel bags have a roomy main compartment. You’ve also got zippered pockets and interior mesh pockets to stash smaller items. 

Wheeled duffels have reinforced haul handles whereas the non-wheeled versions have padded removable shoulder straps to carry the bag like a backpack. 

The Black Hole® range has packing cubes to backpacks for a complete collection of sustainable luggage. 

Ethical and sustainable practices  

Materials: 

All Black Hole® bags are made from durable 100% recycled polyester ripstop. Their TPU-film laminate coating makes the bags exceptionally weather and rip-resistant. The lining is made from 100% recycled polyester with a tough polyurethane coating. 

Supply chain: 

According to Fashion Revolution’s Fashion Transparency Index, Patagonia is one of only five brands to publish a ‘time-bound measurable roadmap’ for achieving a fair wage for all their workers across every supply chain. 

Their goal is to get 100% of apparel products made in factories that pay a living wage by 2025. 

Charity work: 

On top of being 1% For The Planet members, Patagonia encourages consumers to get involved with the Action Works projects that fight for the planet on a political level. 

6. Eastpak 

Blue and black Eastpak Resist Waste backpack made from fabric scraps.

Another sustainable luggage brand, Eastpak has an extensive range of bags from backpacks to suitcases. However, they’ve recently stepped it up a notch with their new eco-conscious collection. 

Eastpak’s Resist Waste collection uses leftover materials and surplus fabrics to create eco-friendly backpacks that prevent scraps from being incinerated or sent to landfills. 

The collection upcycles excess materials into bright designs with an impressive 0% waste. 

The Resist Waste backpack makes a handy daypack when you want something light to travel with. With a 30 year warranty to boot, you can be sure they’re made to last too. 

Ethical and sustainable practices  

Materials: 

The Resist Waste collection is made from 100% surplus nylon and polyester. 

Supply chain: 

Eastpak is owned by parent company VF Corporation which is committed to making positive changes throughout supply chains through their Made to Change initiative. You can read about that here. 

Charity work: 

The brand supports Depaul International, a charity working to end homelessness. 

7. Fjallraven

Fjallraven splitpack backpack in green with a fox logo.

Ethical Swedish brand, Fjallraven’s signature Kanken backpacks are legendary. They also have gear for hiking and backpacking from daypacks to travel bags and everything in between. 

A favourite sustainable travel bag of theirs is the Splitpack Large. This versatile bag is somewhere between a duffel and a backpack, making it easy to carry and offering two equally sized compartments. Perfect for organisation. 

The 55-litre bag also has comfortable shoulder straps and a padded back to make it extra sturdy. Ideal for a weekend away or longer trips, this bag can also be padlocked to keep your belongings safe. 

Editor’s tip: For an even more eco-friendly bag, browse Fjallraven’s Samlaren Collection. It’s a limited edition series of bags and more made out of leftover fabrics!

Ethical and sustainable practices 

Materials: 

Fjallraven’s bags reflect their brand ethos to ‘consider nature when we design.’ The Splitpack is made from robust G-1000 HeavyDuty Eco, which is a combination of recycled and organic cotton and a polyamide lining. 

The bag is water-resistant with Greenland Wax, made from paraffin and beeswax rather than toxic PFCs. 

All Fjallraven’s products are designed to last. If there’s any damage, you can use their Care and Repair scheme. 

Supply chain: 

Fjallraven are members of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and Fair Labor Association, organisations that tackle environmental and social issues caused by the industry. 

Charity work: 

Fjallraven supports renewable energy projects by offsetting some of their unavoidable carbon emissions through Gold Standard. 

8. Home of Millican 

Home of Millican Miles The Duffle backpack in slate blue. one of the best eco-friendly travel bags.

If you want a ‘workhorse for modern life’ that takes you from overnight getaways to long-distance journeys, check out ethical luggage brand, Home of Millican. 

They have daypacks in every colour, but Miles The Duffle is a particular favourite. The duffel-backpack hybrid has removable shoulder straps so you can carry it whichever way feels most comfortable. 

Underneath its outer shell, it has an easy access external laptop sleeve (17 inches), a lockable hidden external zip pocket for valuables and a secure internal pocket. 

It has a fairly soft exterior save for the back but with compression straps, you can squeeze it down so it doesn’t get baggy (and fits most airline requirements). 

Ethical and sustainable practices  

Materials: 

All bags are made from 100% RPET polyester made from recycled plastic. This cuts energy by 50%, saves 20% of water and reduces air pollution by 60%. 

Every 1kg of RPET fabric prevents 60 plastic water bottles from going to landfills. 

All wastewater from dyes is cleaned of contaminants using Bluesign approved dye-stuffs. 

Supply chain: 

House of Millican only works with suppliers that share their ethical values. 

Their fabric producer is a Bluesign System Partner in Daehyun/Busung South Korea. The bags are made in Outdoor Park Vina in Vietnam. 

Charity work: 

As part of their Re-Home Your Bag project, the brand invited customers to send in old bags to be repaired and given to someone in need through charities like Action 4 Conservation. 

9. SALKAN

SALKAN The Backpacker. Main pack with a daypack hooked onto it.

If SALKAN’s reviews are anything to go by, their backpacks are a favourite in the travel community. Indie Traveller, The Independent and GQ all seem to think so. 

So what’s the secret to their success? Customisation and flexibility. Their travel bag, The Backpacker is a 45L backpack with a detachable 20L daypack on the front. You can also customise the entire set to suit your style. 

The sizing is flexible and can be adjusted to your height. You’ve also got a lot of pockets to make use of, including a laptop sleeve (15 inches), expandable side pockets and top and front access so you can easily pack and reach your belongings. 

It also comes with a laundry sling so you can separate dirty from clean without the hassle. 

Ethical and sustainable practices  

Materials: 

The Backpacker is a practical travel bag, but its eco-friendly materials aren’t quite there yet (watch this space). 

While SALKAN’s goal is to close the loop, in the meantime, they’ve taken the lifetime guarantee approach by making bags that last. Their motto is ‘buy well, buy once.’ 

You can also send in your bag to be repaired or if it’s too far gone, they’ll use the materials in other bags and you’ll get a discount on a new one. 

Supply chain: 

I’m yet to find any information about their supply chain. I will update this as soon as I know. 

Charity work: 

SALKAN are members of 1% For The Planet.

10. Elvis & Kresse 

Elvis & Kresse fire-hose weekender bag in red.

Elvis & Kresse are experts at combining luxury with sustainability. Their eco-friendly bags aren’t exactly budget-friendly – but consider them an investment that offers a lifetime of use. 

You’re also doing the planet a favour. Each bag has been made out of decommissioned fire-hoses and waste leather offcuts that would have otherwise been sent to landfills. 

Their fire-hose Weekend Bag is so iconic that it’s part of a permanent collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Sporting a choice of four styles, this statement bag is hard not to fall in love with. 

Complete with three internal pockets, an external pocket and padded straps, you can wear this bag either on your arm or sling it over your shoulder when you’ve got a train to catch. 

Ethical and sustainable practices

Materials: 

The Weekender is made from genuine decommissioned British fire-hoses or reclaimed printing blankets. 

The lining is reclaimed military-grade parachute silk and rescued Burberry textiles. It’s also water-resistant, wipe-clean and vegan. 

Supply chain: 

Elvis & Kresse are certified Living Wage Employers. They’re also a founding UK BCorp and certified Social Enterprise. 

Their products are either made in their workshop in Kent or in Istanbul, Turkey. All staff are paid well and treated fairly. 

Charity work: 

50% of profits from the fire-hose collection are donated to The Firefighters Charity. 

11. Sandqvist 

Blue Leopold duffel bag from Sandqvist.

The Swedish brand Sandqvist have become known for their well-crafted, design-led and environmentally-friendly bags. 

Their eco-friendly luggage takes the form of Weekend Bags which includes duffels and backpacks. If you want both, the Leopold duffel doubles as a backpack with stowable straps so you can choose how you want to carry it. 

The bag has a main compartment to fit all your clothes for the weekend. You can also use the inner mesh pocket and external zipper pocket for smaller items you want to reach easily. 

For smaller sustainable carry-on luggage, check out the roll-top Konrad with reflective webbing to keep you visible at night. Eco-friendly and stylish too! 

Ethical and sustainable practices  

Materials: 

Sandqvist’s bags are made from organic cotton, recycled polyester and recycled nylon. They only use leather from cattle bred for meat production in accordance with strict animal welfare standards. 

The Leopold is made from recycled polyester from post-consumer waste with water-resistant TPU-coating. 

Supply chain: 

They’re members of the Fair Wear Foundation and they ensure every supplier they work with abides by the Foundation’s Code of Labour Practices. 

They share information on who makes their bags and where which you can read here. 

Charity work: 

Sandqvist have donated their bags to a number of Swedish charities over the years. 

One such project was the Style it Forward & The Hunger Project, a pop-up where all proceeds were donated to support women in Africa, Asia and Latin America. 

Tips on choosing eco-friendly luggage brands  

A Fjallraven kanken backpack next to a person wearing boots. An eco-friendly travel bag.

When it comes to buying the right bag, you don’t necessarily need to compromise on style for functionality. 

Below are the key criteria to take into consideration:  

Materials 

Durability is key to eco-friendly luggage. You don’t want something that’s easily damaged if tossed around in transit. 

This is where recycled synthetic materials come in handy. They’re more sustainable than virgin synthetics because they require less energy and reuse otherwise wasted resources.  

Bags made from virgin synthetic materials can still be considered eco-friendly as long as they’re designed to be a one-off purchase that lasts for life. 

Bags with a weatherproof coating should use wax or polyurethane as they’re kinder to the planet than PVC or PFCs. 

Supply chain 

Ethical brands are transparent about their supply chain. Look for luggage brands that are honest about their suppliers. 

Check if they carry out factory audits and if they make sure workers are paid and treated fairly. 

For the best reassurance, look for third-party accreditations from BCorp, Fair Trade, Fair Wear Foundation and Living Wage Foundation. 

Eco-friendly practices

Look at how luggage brands are minimising and mitigating their own environmental footprint, whether it’s cutting emissions, using sustainable packaging, working with eco-friendly suppliers or offsetting anything that can’t be avoided.  

Charity work

Brands that give back to the community show that they’re committed to having a positive impact. 

Look for brands that donate money, get involved with events or raise awareness of important issues.

Buying the right eco-friendly travel bag for you

Woman wearing a backpack walking down a wooden walkway through trees.

There’s a lot to consider when choosing a travel bag. Here are some things to keep in mind to help you pick: 

Size 

The best travel bag for you comes down to size. If you like to pack everything but the kitchen sink then bigger is better, but you might not be able to travel carry-on only. This is where packing cubes can be a lifesaver because you can squeeze a lot more in. 

If you want a carry-on to fly with, it’s worth being mindful that airline luggage restrictions tend to differ. Typically, bags can’t exceed 56x45x25 cm. 

Features

There are so many luggage styles to choose from with features including wheels, hard exteriors, shoulder straps and more. 

Think about what’s best suited to your travels so you can find something that’s practical.

Wheels may come in handy until you reach cobblestones or venture somewhere more intrepid. You might prefer a backpack with wheels that can be tucked away. 

Weatherproofing 

On top of durable materials, weatherproofing is another important feature that you don’t want to overlook. 

A soggy bag is never a good look, and you run the risk of all your possessions getting ruined. Ideally, always choose a bag that offers some kind of protection from the elements whether it’s the material or the coating. 

Final thoughts on sustainable luggage 

Woman wearing a red backpack walking on the road.

Sold on using sustainable travel bags? Before you get your hands on one, I should add that the most eco-friendly travel bags are the ones you already own. So make sure you give those old bags some love. 

If you are in the market for a new travel bag, consider supporting these ethical and eco-friendly luggage brands that do their bit for people and planet!


Need more travel gear inspiration? Check out these guides