Not long ago I deeply fell in love with a backpack… consumerism says hello. So as I am aware of the bad impacts consumerism has on the environment and the people I first checked if this bag would be okay to wear in a sustainable way. And you know how hard it is to double-check an item for its features when you already fell in love with it. If the result was bad I would have needed to look for a similar item somewhere else. And my long-time search for a bag that suits me optically and ethically proofs it is hard to find. So I went on the website of Ethnotek to check the philosophy of the brand and what I found out led to the purchase of this 36 liter Raja Pack 😉
The fact that this backpack is quite expensive for a students budget and me buying it nevertheless tells you how bad I wanted this bag. And I am usually a more economically acting consumer. The price is 200 $ and the model is India 10, that means the thread, which is pinned onto the front of your bag with a velcro fastener, was handmade in India. Depending on the thread you chose you support the local and traditionally working artisans, so that they can keep on living in their communities and stick with the craft, weaving, knitting they learned for generations. With supporting their crafts you prevent them from needing to work in a factory that probably treats them inhumane and pays them badly. And you prevent the craftmanship of their ancestors from becoming unknown. Saving culture never looked so good.
Feel free to read on about the story behind Ethnotek bags and the impact these bags have on those people here.
You can choose between a 46 liter and a 30 liter version depending on your needs. If you travel a lot I’d recommend the bigger version whereas the smaller one is perfect for everyday uni/work life. The top is really expandable so you don’t need to worry about your groceries not fitting in. They will. And if you don’t love these two versions, there are other bags you need to check out, too.
An important criterion for me was the sectioning of the bag inside and outside. I needed a water bottle pocket on the outside as well as tinier pockets for small and often needed items like keys, tickets, chewing gum, lip balm and so on. I also wanted to have a laptop pocket included. The one in Ethnotek bags is nicely covered and is located at the back of the bag, where your back is….enough bag/back?
The inside is divided into a main section and a thinner one for things like notebooks, papers, magazines. You also don’t always need to unroll the top of the bag, you can also access the inside via a zip pocket opposite to the water pocket. Quite the navigation here. The inner side of the bag is lined with hand-woven fabric from Vietnam.
The handcrafted thread itself can be unfastened from the bag and then be used as pad for sitting on while you are outside or whatever comes to your mind. They can also be changed, so you are never stuck with a bag that looks the same. If you are tired of your thread pattern or colour you can check their website for other threads and order them instead of a whole new backpack. That sounds sustainable to me.
All in all the bag makes a durable and high-quality impression to me, never let any drop of water in and is comfortable on the back (important criterion!). What I’d wish for would be a change towards an organically grown material, the one they use now is called ballistic nylon (a synthetic polymer), which isn’t the most sustainable material.
Besides that, I often get compliments about the bag and I am still happy with it, hoping for many many years of loyal companionship 😉
Pictures by: René Berger from Casa Vision Creativ Media