The Best Non-Toxic Backpacks For Kids Of All Ages
Don’t forget to put a non-toxic backpack on your back-to-school shopping list! A non-toxic backpack will lower your children’s exposure to harmful and toxic chemicals like lead, PVC, BPA, PFAS and phthalates. We’ve rounded up a variety of low tox backpacks that are perfect for kids of all ages. From preschool to high school and beyond, there’s a non-toxic backpack option for all!
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It’s back-to-school shopping time, and if you’re buying a new backpack for your child, consider purchasing one that’s free from harmful chemicals like PVC, BPA, phthalates, PFAS and lead. This year, send your child to school with a non-toxic backpack.
A large portion of backpacks made for kids that are sold in stores and online are loaded with harmful and toxic chemicals. According to the EPA report on America’s Children and the Environment, certain environmental contaminants may affect children disproportionately since their bodies and organs are still growing and developing.
What Chemicals To Avoid In Backpacks For kids
- Lead– Lead is a stabilizer in polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is used in some backpacks for kids. Lead exposure can contribute to health problems, including learning and developmental problems, nausea, fatigue, headache, hyperactivity, and brain and nerve damage.
- PVC– PVC (aka Polyvinyl Chloride or vinyl) is a flexible plastic used in some backpacks, and it can look like shiny plastic. PVC can contain harmful chemicals like lead, phthalates and BPA/BPS/BPF. Aside from the human health impacts, PVC is an environmental pollutant.
- Phthalates– Phthalates make PVC soft and pliable. A 2012 study by the Center for Health, Environment and Justice detected phthalates in 80% of school supplies. 75% of the school supplies contained phthalate levels so high, they would not be legal to sell if they were toys. Phthalates have been linked to a variety of health concerns, including asthma, endocrine disruption, impacts to reproductive systems and some forms of cancer.
- BPA, BPS and BPF– PVC may also contain traces of the endocrine-disrupting chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA). Bispheols are endocrine disrupting chemicals, which means they interact with hormones in the body, and exposure has been linked to changes in insulin response levels and coronary heart disease, among other health concerns.
- Microban– If your backpack contains Microban, it will clearly state this on the label. None of the backpacks listed below contain Microban. Microban is a proprietary mix of chemicals that may contain Triclosan, an endocrine-disrupting chemical that can cause bacterial resistance.
- PFAS Chemicals– There are many companies that use PFAS coatings on fabric to make it waterproof. These “forever chemicals” are linked to adverse health issues like testicular and kidney cancer, thyroid disease, obesity, weakened immunity and other health problems. If a brand states that the product is waterproof, make sure the coating is PFC-free (outdoor gear companies use this lingo to state that there are no perfluorinated compounds in the coating).
What Materials Are Safest For Backpacks
- Natural fibers like organic cotton and hemp.
- Synthetic fabrics like nylon and polyester are the lowest tox options other than natural fibers. The downsides to this type of synthetic material are that the petroleum used for the fabric is not a renewable resource, the manufacturing process requires using toxic chemicals (even if they’re not in the final product) and has a large carbon footprint, microplastics shed from the material, and the material is not biodegradable, so it will be in landfills for a very long time.
- Polyurethane used as a waterproof coating (this is not non-toxic, but it’s much better than PFAS as a waterproof or water resistant coating).
Send your child to school with a non-toxic backpack, non-toxic school supplies and a non-toxic lunchbox filled with stainless steel food containers. Look below for the best non-toxic and low tox backpacks that are perfect for kids of all ages.
Terra Thread uses organic cotton farming and sustainable practices at every stage of production to give consumers planet-friendly choices for everyday essentials that are designed to last. All Terra Thread products are made in a Fair Trade Certified™ Factory.
Materials: Certified organic cotton canvas
Free From: Lead-free YKK metal zippers and fasteners
Standouts: Terra Thread Earth Backpack (16L), Terra Thread Semi Mini Backpack (12L), Terra Thread Zem Mini Backpack (9L)
State Bags donates fully-packed backpacks, funds thoughtful projects with partner charities and schools, and sheds light around social injustices.
Materials: Responsibly made with recycled polyester or coated polyester; polyester lining. 100% coated cotton body; 100% recycled polyester lining.
Free From: State products are tested and verified by 3rd party CPSC approved testing facilities as: Lead safe, Cadmium safe, Nickel Release safe, PVC safe, Cadmium safe, Nickel Release safe, Free of added formaldehyde, Free of harmful phthalates, Free of Azo Dye. As of Fall 2022 they are PFAS-free.
State Kane Kids Mini Backpack (ages 2-4)
State Kane Kids Backpack (ages 4-8)
Deuter has been making outdoor gear for over 120 years. Deuter has a responsibility toward people and the planet, and they incorporate responsibility into every aspect of their product supply chain – from product development and design, to the choice of materials, production methods and transport, through to product applications that are equally for outdoor and everyday use.
Materials: Polyester with a Polyurethane coating.
Free From: As of summer 2020, Deuter is PFAS free.
Deuter Kids Pico 5L Backpack
Deuter Kids Kiki 8L Backpack
Deuter Kids Schmusebar 8L Backpack
Deuter Kids Junior 18L Backpack
Deuter Kids Junior Belt Bag
Fjallraven focuses on simplicity and practicality, with the utmost respect for the environment, developing functional, durable and timeless outdoor gear. They also act responsibly towards nature, animals and people. Fjallraven incorporates sustainable design, sustainable materials and sustainable production into their goods.
Material: 100% polypropylene
Free From: PVC, Phthalates, Lead, PFC and BPA free.
Fjallraven Kanken 16L Backpack
Fjallraven Raven 20L Backpack
Fjallraven Raven 28L Backpack
Fjallraven Kanken 17in Laptop Backpack
Fjallraven Kanken Sling
Since 1981, Jack Wolfskin has been leading the pack with their innovative, eco-conscious technologies, commitment to social responsibility, and forward-thinking designs.
Free From: All backpacks and clothing are 100% PFC-free and PVC-free.
Jack Wolfskin Youth Little Joe Backpack
Jack Wolfskin Track Jack Backpack
Jack Wolfskin Kids Explorer Backpack
Jack Wolfskin Youth Buttercup Backpack
Jack Wolfskin Little Jack Backpack
Fluf products are handmade in India in a small, family-owned and run facility. Tailors work in a safe environment, and are paid living wages to support themselves and their families.
Materials: Exclusively organic + recycled materials with less impact on the earth. All inks and dyes are GOTS-certified, water-based and non-toxic. The water resistant liner is polyester.
Free From: free of BPA, PVC, PFAS, PFCs, phthalates, heavy metals, AZO, fire retardants, formaldehyde, and more. Fluf products are regularly tested by independent third parties (TÜV, SGS and BV) for toxicity, food-safety & quality to ensure they exceed the highest safety standards in Canada, the US and the EU.
Fluf B Backpack
SoYoung is a Canadian and female owned brand of thoughtfully-made lifestyle goods on a mission to make personal wellness sustainable, stylish and self-empowering.
Materials: Linen/Cotton blend with a lined nylon interior
Free From: PVC, Phthalate, Lead and BPA free.
SoYoung Kids Backpack
Milkdot, a New York-based company, designs modern products with an all-ages appeal with the functionality and style that both kids and adults will love. They only use non-toxic materials.
Free From: Milkdot products have been thoroughly tested for lead and phthalates by a Consumer Product Safety Commission third-party accredited lab and meets the guidelines of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act for lead and phthalates.
Milkdot Mini Backpacks
The North Face
The North Face has a commitment to preserving nature by repurposing old gear, using responsibly sourced materials, eliminating single-suen plastic by 2025 and reducing supply chain greenhouse gas.
Material: Polyester and/or nylon, depending on the product
Free From: Some of their products have an Exploration Without Compromise badge, and products must be made with 75% or greater recycled, regenerative and/or responsibly-sourced renewable materials. If the product has a DWR finish, it must be a non-perfluorinated chemicals (non-PFC) DWR.
The North Face Borealis Backpack
The North Face Borealis Navy Backpack
The North Face Jester Backpack
The North Face Magenta Jester Backpack
For every backpack purchase, Bixbee donates a schoolbag with supplies to a kid in need.
Material: Made of durable 600-denier polyester.
Free From: All products are tested PVC free, phthalate free and lead free according to CPSIA requirements. Bixbee does not treat the material with any chemicals to make it water resistant.
Bixbee Animal Backpacks
Bixbee Sparkalicious Backpacks
Bixbee Flyer Backpacks
More Non-Toxic Back-To-School Inspiration