EletiofeThe Best Bags Made of Recycled Materials

The Best Bags Made of Recycled Materials

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WIRED’s gear team has tested dozens of backpacks, totes, purses, messengers, slings, and even reusable shopping bags. More and more of these bags are using recycled materials that come from plastic water bottles, old nylon, and even fishing nets retrieved from the ocean. It’s important to find ways to reuse what would otherwise pollute our oceans and sit in landfills forever

In this guide, we’ve pooled together our favorite bags that utilize recycled materials in some way, shape, or form. Not every bag is made of 100 percent recycled materials, but every little bit counts. But first, ask yourself: Do you need a new backpack? If the one you have now really isn’t working out and can’t be repaired, then you might get some peace of mind with our picks below. 

Be sure to read our guides on the Best Recycled and Upcycled Products, Best Reusable Products, Best Laptop Bags, and Best Camera Bags.

Updated August 2022: We’ve added the Pacsafe X SLNT Anti-Theft Backpack as an option. We’ve also updated prices and links throughout.

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  • Photograph: United By Blue

    Best Overall (a Tote-Backpack)

    United by Blue Convertible Carryall

    United By Blue’s Carryall is a nice tote bag that easily converts to a backpack. Both the interior and exterior are made of 100 percent recycled polyester; the straps are 100 percent recycled nylon; and the padding is made of a combo of 60 percent recycled nylon and 40 percent recycled polyester. Even the zipper pulls are 100 percent recycled nylon paracord.

    It’s water-resistant and sufficiently padded to keep a 15-inch laptop safe from the elements and drops. There are useful organizational pouches inside the front pocket, as well as two water bottle pockets. If you’re tired of carrying it on one shoulder, unzip the back pocket and pull out the comfy backpack straps. They clip on to sturdy D-rings at the base. You’ll find the most design options at United By Blue’s website

  • Photograph: Mafia Bags

    Best Backpack

    Mafia Bags Deep Blue Bag

    All Mafia bags are made from recycled sails, and the company employs Californians to cut and manufacture them. This Deep Blue Bag was made in collaboration with industrial designer Yves Béhar and utilizes material from climbing ropes, seat belts, and old wet and dry suits. The front compartment is waterproof and meant to prevent wet towels and bathing suits from leaking through to the rest of your gadgets, in case you hit the beach right after work. A hidden side pocket can house a phone, keys, or wallet, and you can use the small loop at the bottom of the bag to hang it upside down to dry. There’s also a drysuit sleeve to keep water bottles securely in place until you pull them out. 

    All profits from this bag go to the nonprofit Sustainable Surf and its Waste to Waves program, which focuses on recycling Styrofoam packaging. You can donate your old sails too.

  • Photograph: Moment

    Best Tote

    Moment MTW Tote

    This is our favorite traditional tote, and its exterior is made of weatherproof recycled nylon. WIRED reviewer Jaina Grey says it distributes weight like magic and has pockets on top of pockets to keep you organized, including a slot for a 16-inch laptop. We also like Moment’s MTW Backpack, which you can read more about in our Best Camera Bags guide.

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