Introducing the Better Backpack, a rebuttal to the fast fashion industry.

“A lot of what's being produced in fashion nowadays is predatory," says designer Daniel Eckler.

The Better Backpack is thusly designed to last a lifetime.

To do that, Eckler and his design outfit Mijlo built the pack out of canvas--a hardy, weather-resistant material.

More importantly, it's held together by nylon thread that's looped through the canvas at 10 stitches per inch.

If at any point a buyer decides they don't want their Better Backpack, the Mijlo team will give buyers a 10 percent rebate and give the pack a second life.

Get one here.

The Last Backpack You’ll Ever Have To Buy?

That’s the promise of the Better Backpack, a pared-down canvas bag designed to last.

I went through several backpacks as a kid. Between school, friends' houses, soccer practice, and your average foolishness, they were invariably torn, beaten up, and in need of replacing by the start of the next school year. Bad news for my parents, great news for Jansport.

"A lot of what's being produced in fashion nowadays is predatory," says Daniel Eckler, a designer who has a new product—earnestly dubbed the Better Backpack—that’s crafted to stick around for awhile. "Fast fashion is a lot of fun artistically, but it also leads to massive debt, waste, and social pressure."

To create a longer-lasting product, Eckler and his design outfit Mijlo built the pack out of canvas—a hardy material used by everyone from the military to ranchers donning Carhartt jackets to competing backpack brands like Herschel and the Swedish Fjällräven.

The difference, Eckler says, is that they’ve amped up the stitching that holds it all together. Nylon thread loops through the canvas at 10 stitches per inch, which Eckler describes as the highest count they can reach before the punctures compromise the strength of the fabric.

Eckler's intention, beyond creating a not-crap product at a reasonable price point, is to champion a brand of sustainability that’s less about hemp and organic cotton and more about nixing disposable design in favor of conscious consumerism. When shopping, Eckler says, every consumer should ask: "Do I really need this?"

"That should be the first question you ask yourself—not just in terms of consumption, but in terms of living your life," he tells Co.Design.

To emphasize that point, the Mijlo team put together a campaign where they asked designers to name their essential possessions, and then photographed them (and gave them the Things Organized Neatly treatment). "I love that 'essentials' can mean something completely different depending on who you ask," Eckler says. But he found that, "pretty much everyone needs a backpack. It seemed like a logical first product to make."

And even if the Better Backpack turns out not to be a shopper's essential after all—and it gets returned years after purchase—the Mijlo team will give buyers a 10 percent rebate and give the pack a second life.

Snag one here.

Add New Comment

10 Comments

  • really

    Ok..Gotta call BS on this!

    First...Canvas is not the strongest thing you can build a backpack
    in...this is why most are made in nylon,ballistic,and Cordura. Take a look at Mission Workshop and Chrome or even Timbuk2. The reason these are made in this material it it's super strong, and bike messengers beat the crapout of bags and these last for years, I've got one from Messenger from 1995 and it's still as good as the day I bought it. Another thing to consider...without any coating like wax, or do i dare say PU coating it will come apart and will allow water to seep through. Finally if eco is your thing there are so many options and coatings that bio degrade.

    Second...The pack shown is almost a direct ripoff of a jansport bag, actually thinking about it most companies ripoff the original design Jansport did. I think they got something right if that many people want the same look and construction.

    Third..and personal. My father carried a Jansport he bought in the
    early 70's and wore it through college, then I carried it through high school and then college. We never had a problem till I got it caught in a car door and tore the strap as the car drove away (my fault). Feeling horrible I contacted Jansport and found out they have a lifetime return policy, and they even repair old styles and even sleeping bags, tents, and other things they made in the past. I sent the pack back to Seattle, and they fixed it with the same material (Cordura) the original was. When I got the pack back it had a card inside from the person who fixed it telling me how much care they took with it and thanking me for being a long term customer. They realized how much the pack means to me and my dad...where it has been in the world...the growing changes he and I did through life in it. Now that my son goes off to middle school next year guess what bag he's getting, yep the one my dad and i carried. Now that's a company that cares. Looking at Jansports website they have been around for 47years, and considering the quality and treatment I got on my needs...I trust that!

  • ben_marko

    Sure hope it comes in something other than white! It definitely seems like something I would buy...but white is a dirt magnet.

  • Daniel Eckler

    Thanks for featuring us and sharing our vision Margaret! This article beautifully distils our concept and philosophy, and it's awesome to get such great coverage from such an amazing outlet.

    It's only day three of the campaign, and we've already reached nearly 70% of our goal! Keep up the good work, and we'll keep working hard to revolutionize fashion and design.

    Regarding the color, there are three darker shades if you're the type to get your bag dirty :)

  • penina

    I abandoned white when I had a baby. I vote "heather gray" ;-)

    It IS a great bag!

  • Graham

    Margaret, you called out JanSport your opening paragraph, but they actually have an amazing lifetime guarantee on all their packs, so all those "torn, beaten up bags" could easily be returned for fresh ones. Link for the lazy: http://goo.gl/rXUAD8