Schools and colleges are dusting off desks and polishing hallways, getting ready for the excited throngs of students who will be starting the new school year. Yes, summer is waning, and kids of all ages are gearing up for new educational challenges.
It’s always cool to make a new start with fresh supplies, and once you’ve raided the stationery store for pens, pencils, binders and the ubiquitous marble notebooks, it’s probably time to think about grabbing a new backpack to hold all that loot.
We love it when we can find products that give back to others while kitting us out with well-made, practical gear. Happily, we’ve found five companies that donate to the community for every backpack purchased. We’re confident you’ll find a winner from this list.
Cotopaxi has backpacks for school and work, as well as hiking and other less bookish pursuits. We love the compact Boma daypack (above), with its sturdy canvas fabric and inside mesh bag to stow all those pens, earbuds, Altoids and other items that are prone to scattering about. A small laptop or tablet will fit in there, too.
Giving is a main priority for Cotopaxi. The company has made a commitment to fight poverty around the world by creating positive social impact. Health, education and initiatives to improve people’s livelihoods are front and center, and Cotopaxi gives targeted grants to projects working on these issues.
State’s Kane Coney Island bag celebrates the quirky streets of Brooklyn but looks cool enough for non-New Yorkers, too. It has handy organizers to keep supplies in place, a key clip, an iPad pocket, a zippered front pocket and water bottle pockets on the side.
For each Kane bag the company sells, State hand-delivers one of its backpacks stuffed with all the necessary school supplies to an American child in need.
3. Stone and Cloth
The Roll-Top Backpack midsize bag is large enough to fit a 15-inch laptop, which you can even charge safely in your bag thanks to a special vent. And to further pamper your computer, introduce it to the padded laptop sleeve.
This Stone and Cloth backpack is made from wax-coated canvas, and the roll top lets you pack it as high or as low as you want. Need an extra sweater? No worries! This bag can accommodate it.
For each Stone and Cloth bag you buy, the company provides 25 hours of education to children in Tanzania through scholarships.
The Vietnam 2 Raja Pack will protect your laptop with its 840-denier ballistic nylon. Each backpack is one-of-a-kind, with colorful patchwork made from embroidered Hmong textiles. Even better: the embroidered panel is created from recycled scraps of tribal clothing. Once the clothing is made, the extra pieces of scrap fabric are collected and sewn into the material for this collection.
Ethnotek uses ethically sourced handmade textiles for its bags, and the company says purchases help fund employment for hand-printers, weavers and embroiderers in their partnering artisan villages in Ghana, Guatemala, India, Indonesia and Vietnam.
The Viva is a handmade unprocessed-leather backpack stitched and finely detailed in Guatemala. The company says its Hand-Crafted Collection showcases the local artisanal leather hand-stitching method and preserves indigenous culture.
Ten percent of online sales go to Hiptipico’s ‘Backpacks that Give Back’ scholarship program, which helps the children of its artisan partners attend an international preparatory school in Guatemala.