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15 Best Recycled Backpacks And Bags (2023): Totes, Purses, Shopping Bags

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Best Overall (a Tote-Backpack)United by Blue Convertible Carryall

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Best BackpackMafia Bags Deep Blue Bag

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Best Sling BagTroubadour Sling Compact

Read moreWIRED’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 from 100 percent recycled materials, but every little bit counts. But first, ask yourself: Do you need a new bag? 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. Bags are often categorized by liters, which we explain more in a separate article.

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

Updated April 2023: We’ve added the Troubadour Sling Compact, Lojel City Sling, Timbuk2 Spark Mini Pack, and Targus Zero Waste Backpack as picks. We’ve also added the Nixon Hatch Bag and Peak Design Everyday Totepack to our Honorable Mentions.

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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.

Photograph: Mafia Bags

Best BackpackMafia Bags Deep Blue Bag

All Mafia bags are made from reused 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: Troubadour

Best Sling BagTroubadour Sling Compact

The Troubadour Sling Compact is made from recycled polyester and plastic bottles. It’s small but mighty, fitting a bulky wallet, phone, chapstick, and keys. If I switched to a slim card wallet instead, I could even carry around my Beats over-ear headphones.

It’s broken up into two compartments, the larger main one and a smaller front pocket with a key clip and a small spot to hold something about the size of an AirPods case. The brand has a slightly larger version available, as well as a vegan leather one (both $95). All have a magnetic quick-release button if you can’t slip it over your head (it shouldn’t open until you’re actually trying to).

★ More From Troubadour: The newest Orbis Collection is a fully circular line of bags. They’re not just made from recycled materials, but they’re meant to be recycled again and again. Although we haven’t tried it, we’ve used a bunch of this brand’s lineup now—including several backpacks and totes—and all are well made and sophisticated-looking. We’re confident the line is worth buying if they’re in your price range.

Photograph: Moment

Best ToteMoment 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.