Going on a trip? Start it off ethically by carrying some of the best vegan luggage brands along with you!
By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
Once upon a time, heavy, boxy leather suitcases were the norm. Sure, there was some undeniable charm in that era of early 20th-century travel: people used to dress up for flights in their Sunday best, topped off with impeccably styled hair, pillbox hats, and sometimes, even gloves.
Today, things are much different. We roll up to the airport in sweats and much lighter, cheaper suitcases, which need to fit into the overspace locker (unless we want to pay extra). Sure, these suitcases may be more vegan friendly, but they are often made of nasty, artificial materials like nylon or worse, PVC.
Like a good winter coat or mattress, luggage is something we need to purchase with care. Suitcases should last at least a decade, and should be built to withstand even the most careless baggage handler. And if you care about the planet, they should be made from eco-friendly materials.
What to look for when shopping vegan luggage brands
Thank heavens most luggage today comes on wheels! The question is: two or four? Four wheelers can spin 360 degrees, making them easy to maneuver – you can wheel your suitcase beside, in front, or behind you. It’s also easier to navigate bathrooms, airplane aisles and other small spaces, but if you’re going down one of those escalators without stairs, it can be harder to control your baggage.
Two-wheelers are better for clearing curbs and rolling on sidewalks, cobblestone streets, and other uneven surfaces. In either case, ensure the wheels are sturdy, well screwed on, and made of a thick, durable material, as these are one of the first parts of a suitcase that tend to break.
As my father always said, a suitcase is only as good as its zippers! If a zipper breaks when you’re travelling, it can be a nightmare, so be sure to check the zippers on a bag before you buy. Zippers come in two basic types: chain and coil. A chain zipper is best; it has two sets of interlocking teeth, usually made of metal. Coil zippers can be pulled apart with a ballpoint pen and should be avoided. Check for YKK on the zip’s tongue: this is widely thought to be the most reliable zipper brand around.
Again, these should be durable and sturdy. A handle that retracts completely inside the bag is less likely to be damaged. It should move smoothly as you push it in and out, and should have little to no wiggling or rattling when you pull the bag.
Although tags and labels will often proclaim a bag is “official carry-on luggage” sized, there is no standard for one carry-on size, as airlines impose their own restrictions. Limits can vary among airlines and even among aircrafts. If you know which airline you’re travelling with, check for which size they accept for carry-ons, and ensure when you buy a new piece of luggage, it complies with that. Generally, 19″ is safe, but carry-ons can be as big as 22″.
Soft-sided luggage is usually best, because it’s lightweight and allows you to push the limits when it comes to what you can stuff in, and of course, vegan luggage brands will normally use soft materials. The best fabric is thick and high-denier (denier is a measurement of fabric weight) with reinforced edges. If you travel a lot, you may want to choose a hard-sided bag, since they can’t be torn or cut open with blades – something to keep in mind if you’re travelling somewhere a bit dangerous. Aluminum luggage is the most durable, but it’s heavier than plastic.
10 Of The Best Eco Friendly Luggage Brands
Ready to choose a bag? I’ve selected over 10 of the best vegan luggage brands below that are all:
- vegan friendly, of course
- eco friendly
- buyable online, no matter where you live
- durable and reputable
This is definitely one of the most colourfully named of all the eco friendly luggage brands here!
Douchebags was founded by Swedish free-ski legend Jon Olsson and the Norwegian product designer Truls Brataas in 2012. The brand uses PU leather and animal friendly glue, blending ethical practices with innovative design. The new collection, made in collaboration with lifestyle blogger Janni Delér is bound to be a hit, with its trapezoidal shapes and copper details.
Pricing: From around $100
The globally famous American luggage manufacturer and retailer has finally introduced more ethical practices with its eco-friendly Eco-Nu suitcase.
Samsonite may not be known as one of the top eco friendly luggage brands, but Eco-Nu’s use of durable, innovative materials including recycled fabric and post-consumer recycled plastic bottles is set to change all that. To further reinforce the frame, there’s a unique wrap-around frame, and its highly performative Saguaro™ Wheel System will allow you to rush around the airport in no time.
Pricing: From $79
Incase has a history that goes back to 1997, making it a pioneer in the realm of vegan luggage brands. It mainly uses eco-friendly Ecoya, which is naturally dyed yarn. The EO Roller Pack is ideal for a short trip, with its tech compartment that fits up to a 17-inch MacBook, and has plenty of room for your garments. It also has a weather-resistant coating, which assures protection to all your belongings, rain or shine. No need for that nasty plastic wrap you see at airports! (is there ever a need for that?)
Pricing: From $99
When it comes to conscious clothing and accessories, Patagonia has long been a leader in the field. They offer a wide range of backpacks, duffel bags, and other vegan luggage options. If you’re planning to go on an adventure, their Black Hole Wheeled Duffel will be just what you need.
Made from bluesign® approved fabric that’s both durable and weatherproof, this duffel-style bag also features a telescoping handle and reinforced haul handles to resist the toughest of contingencies. In fact, it’s one of the best vegan luggage brands for frequent travellers, since it’s sto light and strong!
Pricing: From $129
MEC is a retail co-op that sells exclusively to members, offering a variety of sustainable gear for outdoor activities. They feature brands who share their values (like Patagonia) and also make their own products – including the unisex MEC.
MEC makes an awesome piece of vegan luggage: their Rolling Continent Cargo Pack. This innovative bag features organic cotton, recycled nylon and PVC-free materials. It boasts a unique design that allows you to pull it on its wheels, or comfortably wear it as a backpack, if you prefer.
Pricing: From $45
Osprey is one of the best made and most loved vegan luggage brands. It was founded by Mike Pfotenhauer in 1974 with the intention to fight against waste, since they are designed to last for a lifetime. Today, this eco-friendly luggage label refuses to use BPA, PVC/phthalates and triclosan in its products. Instead, they use the highest-quality materials with the lowest environmental impact. These include bluesign®-approved and recycled materials.
The brand offers a wide variety of styles, including wheeled luggage, incredibly comfortable travel backpacks, carry-on luggage and more.
Named after a bird of prey, it’s not surprising to learn that Osprey is concerned about animal conservation. Specifically, the brand sponsors the Bird Conservation Georgia’s project to stop illegal hunting of raptors in the Caucasus.
Pricing: From around $150
8. Matt and Nat
This leather-free bag brand from Canada is also one of the best vegan luggage brands for men and women.
One of our favourite models is the Coast carry-on suitcase in total black. It comes with a double zipper closure and triple handle detail with an expendable easy-carry handle, wheels that spin 360 degrees, and a spacious, practical interior design.
We also love the Cast Weekender bag, which is just what you need if you’re going away for only a few days.
Pricing: From around $200
The PETA approved Bellemonde label is one of our favourite vegan luggage brands for chic, vintage-style! They create a line of purses, totes, duffel bags and suitcases that bear a sporty, 70s style stripe – we adore!
We also adore that the founder of the brand claims she made it vegan because: “The animals in our lives are the bosses of us. Yes, they depend on us to provide them with the basic needs of life but really our pets provide us with true purpose in life…..love. This is one major reason why we have chosen to manufacture in synthetics.”
Another reason Bellmonde chose not to use leather in their products is because, frankly, they’re cheaper that way. And consequently, this is one of the most economical of all the vegan luggage brands on our list!
Pricing: From $59
California based brand Timbuk2 creates a wide array of bags, backpacks and luggage that are made to last. All external materials and liners – are bluesign® approved, and many are made from 100% recycled PET yarn from plastic bottles. What’s even better is their approach to waste: A local recycler picks up Timbuk2 fabric scraps on a monthly basis so no textile remnants ever go to waste.
Their Copilot Roller carry-on features a clamshell design, bike-inspired handle, and skateboard wheels. Internally, it boasts loads of compartments for storing shoes, wet clothes, and cosmetics.
Pricing: From $59
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