The Best Eco-Friendly Backpacks for New Zealand©
The Best Eco-Friendly Backpacks for New Zealand

The Best Eco-Friendly Backpacks for New Zealand


Backpacks Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles

Make your travels around New Zealand a little more eco-friendly by choosing a backpack that is made out of recycled plastic bottles! That’s right, the Canadian backpack brand, Herschel Supply Co. has opened up an online store in New Zealand (and many countries worldwide) and we at NZ Pocket Guide are pretty stoked about it. We tried and tested two backpacks from Herschel’s Eco Collection to really see if these backpacks, that help save the planet, are too good to be true! Find out in this review of these eco-friendly backpacks for New Zealand.

For a complete list of things to pack for a trip around New Zealand, check out our complete New Zealand Packing List.

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5 Cool Facts About Herschel’s Eco Backpacks

Before we dive into the review, here’s just five facts about Herschel’s Eco Collection that we found kind of cool to share with you.

  • Their Eco Collection backpacks are made with 11 to 22 post-consumer water bottles melted, spun and woven into bags
  • They use 100% recycled fabrics in body fabric, liners, labels, webbing, straps and zipper tapes
  • A lifetime warranty is available if purchased from an authorised seller i.e. you won’t need to buy a new backpack again!
  • They have online stores in New Zealand, Australia, North America, Europe, Hong Kong, China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Philippines and more.
  • They offer free shipping to New Zealand.

The Best Eco-Friendly Backpacks for New Zealand©

The Good

The Pros of Herschel Backpacks

The two backpacks reviewed are the 25l Little America and the slightly smaller 19.5l Retreat Backpack. Speaking of size, this brings us to our first positive about the backpacks, which is that we find the sizes of these popular models very versatile. Both bags are compact enough as a carry-on bag for flying or using New Zealand’s public transport while large enough to fit all your essentials for exploring for the day.

Now, we can’t get too far into this review without discussing the sustainability of the backpacks. First of all, backpacks are usually made out of plastic fabrics, such as polyester, polypropylene and polyamide, but instead of virgin plastics, Herschel Supply Co. chooses to use post-consumer water bottles in the fabrics of their Eco Collection. Does this make the fabric poor quality? Absolutely not. Not only have we found the backpacks to be highly durable but Herschel backs their products with a lifetime warranty. Essentially, you don’t need to buy a new day pack ever again!

As for the rest of the fabrics used in Herschel’s backpacks, they’re made out of 100% recycled fabrics. This includes the liners, where you’ll find a few nifty pockets in the backpack, such as a small side media pocket with a headphone port above it. In addition, both Little America and Retreat Backpack have a laptop compartment. Incidentally, we’ve found this pocket useful to store a water bladder.

Padding is another thing that Herschel Supply Co. does well, with the shoulder straps being densely padded, as is the back padding with air channels included in the Little America design. The Retreat Backpack, however, lacks the extra back padding probably due to its smaller size.

One last positive, these backpacks just look so damn good. Enough said on that.

The Best Eco-Friendly Backpacks for New Zealand©

The Bad

The Cons of Herschel Backpacks

So what are the Little America and Retreat Backpacks not good for? After testing them on both short walks and strenuous hikes, the latter is where we ran into some problems. Due to the lack of a sternum strap and a waist belt, the bags were a little uncomfortable when carrying heavy gear. Therefore, we wouldn’t recommend these backpacks for long day hikes or multi-day hikes in New Zealand.

A slight nit-pick we have is that although the magnetic buttons used to open and close the packs are easy to use, if you need to adjust the buckles to fit more or less gear in, then they’re a pain to adjust. However, we can see the buckles have not been designed to be used and it’s unlikely you’ll need to adjust these straps.

Finally, the lack of a zippable front pocket on the Retreat Backpack, like Little America has, is a disappointment. To store your small items, you have to use the small inside pock which can be a pain if you quickly want to grab your wallet.

The Best Eco-Friendly Backpacks for New Zealand©

Who Should Buy a Herschel Supply Co. Backpack?

So with the good and bad out of the way, what’s the conclusion? Should you buy a Herschel Supply Co. backpack?

Little America and Retreat Backpack are a worthy option as a casual day pack for travelling New Zealand. It holds up in its size, durability, padding and pocket distribution for day-tripping from New Zealand’s cities to enjoying nature on its short to half-day walks. Travellers choosing a backpack for more intense exploration of the country’s wilderness, whether it’s a full day on the Tongariro Crossing or doing one of the Great Walks, should consider a different style of backpack.

On the final note, if you’re eco-conscious and, quite frankly, give a damn about the stunning environment of New Zealand that you’ve travelled to see, then you might like the sustainability of these backpacks from Herschel Supply Co. 


Robin C.

This article was reviewed and published by Robin, the co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. He has lived, worked and travelled across 16 different countries before calling New Zealand home. He has now spent over a decade in the New Zealand tourism industry, clocking in more than 600 activities across the country. He is passionate about sharing those experiences and advice on NZ Pocket Guide and its YouTube channel. Robin is also the co-founder of several other South Pacific travel guides.

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