2013 Safer Backpacks Cheat Sheet

Here is where things get tricky for SafeMama.  Since my “job” here is to provide you with the safest options I can dig up, my list for these is limited.  It’s true, the thing most important to avoid is PVC in kids products (CHEJ will back me up on that – they have recommended brands that are PVC Free). But after doing some research I discovered that while some backpacks are PVC free, brands like LL Bean could not tell me their backpacks were phthalate free.  LL Bean indicated to me that their backpacks “meet the standards set forth by the government” but would not say they are free of phthalates.  When I pressed they said, there could be traces of phthalates (perhaps in the glues or sealants used to bind the seams?) in the backpacks but that they were below the legal limit.  So here’s where I leave the choice up to you.   If  ”below the legal limit” is ok with you, then by all means.  I just want to make it known so you can decide what’s right for you.  Brands in BOLD text would not claim Lead or Phthalate free.  The rest, unless otherwise noted, are PVC, Lead, BPA and Phthalate free according to the companies.

PVC, BPA, Lead, Phthalate Free Backpacks

  • Beatrix New York
  • CBH Studios “Little Pack Rats” (PVC Free selection only)
  • Dabbawalla Backpacks
  • Dwell Studios Backpacks
  • EcoGear Backpacks
  • Fleurville Kids Messenger Bags
  • Fluf Organic Backpacks
  • Garnet Hill Kids Backpacks (PVC free and when asked about being free of Lead and Phthalates they simply said “yes”.  Take that for what it’s worth.  Update: “All of the children’s products that Garnet Hill offers pass all mandatory CPSIA testing.” according to them.  Which means not lead free but lead safe. They did not provide me any testing information to indicate so.)
  • High Sierra Backpacks
  • Hannah Andersson: PVC Free but will not say lead or phthalate free, instead they say “All Hanna backpack products meet or exceed the Children’s Product Safety Improvement Act limits for lead and phthalates. Also any lead content is on interior layers that would not contact the food or the child’s skin.
  • Jansport Backpacks: PVC Free and when asked if free of Lead and Phthalates rep said “to the best of my knowledge they are free of those things”. Didn’t sound official but, there you go.
  • Kids Travel Zone Backpacks
  • Fluf Messenger Bag
  • Land’s End: Meets or exceeds federal safety standards and said no detectable levels of lead were found when tested.  Would not say lead free or phthalate free but claim they meet or exceed the limits.
  • LL Bean: (PVC Free but only claims to meet/exceed the CPSIA standards – will not state that they are lead or phthalate free)
  • Mimi the Sardine Backpacks (Oko Tek Certified fabrics)
  • MilkDot Top Kat Backpacks (PVC-Free, BPA-Free and tested lead-safe by a CPSC accredited lab and CPSIA compliant)
  • Pottery Barn Kids: After a few calls I was told that their kids products are all free of PVC, BPA, Phthalates and Lead.  However none of the reps I spoke with could provide any solid information of testing practices.  I felt a bit like they were placating me but there you have it.  A reader (thank you dear readers!) forwarded a response to their questions about BPA, Phthalates and Lead and was told “We cannot guarantee 100% that they do not contain trace amounts of these chemicals.”  So perhaps Pottery Barn won’t be a top choice.  It’s your call.
  • SoYoung Backpacks  Tested: PVC-free, phthalate-free, BPA Free
  • WildKin Back Packs: Pack ‘n Snack Backpack is PVC free.  Others have some PVC that is phthalate free. Check product descriptions before buying.

Trusted places to shop for school gear:

Looking for safer Lunch Gear options? SafeMama Lunch Gear Cheat Sheet to the rescue.


9 Responses to “2013 Safer Backpacks Cheat Sheet”

  1. Anita meyer on August 13th, 2013 9:47 am

    Can you please tell me if the hasboro my little backpack purple sold at target is a safe backpack. I called target and they said it was made out of polyester. They gave the manufacturers phone, 212-244-4400. The woman who called me back said it was within the us guidelines and they are made overseas. She also said that she had no other information to give to me.

    Of course this makes me concerned.

    Please advise me. Thank you.
    Anita Meyer 617-816-5033

  2. Tamra on August 21st, 2013 12:58 am

    “The fabric for the backpacks and lunchboxes meet the standards set forth by the government. Although they may have traces, the materials have been tested by our manufacturer and are below the requirements. The lining of the lunchbox is free of everything.”

    Kids Travel Zone

  3. Stephanie on August 24th, 2013 9:27 am

    Hi – the Crocodile Creek website does NOT say its backpacks are lead-free, only BPA and PVC free. I emailed them as a follow-up, but wondering if you got some reliable information directly from them that they are lead-free? Thanks!

  4. MT on August 27th, 2013 7:17 pm

    I just received a High Sierra backpack and it has a proposition 65 warning label. I don’t understand why they didn’t mention this in the product information online. I wouldn’t have ordered it. Now I have to return it!


  5. Heather M on August 28th, 2013 1:47 am

    I had a couple questions –
    1. Would you be able to share the info you received from Crocodile Creek that said its backpacks were lead free? I’m a little wary because their lunchboxes say on the tag, “lead-free lining” and as you have written, “meet lead requirements.” The Crocodile Creek backpacks, meanwhile, do not make any claims of being lead-free on their labels or website. I’m feeling confused!
    2. Have you ever looked into Stephen Joseph backpacks and lunch items? They just give a standard “meets requirements” note on their website. I’d love more information on their products.
    Finally, Thank you so much for the wonderful list you’ve put together.
    Heather M

  6. Brit on September 11th, 2013 3:33 pm

    Sugarbooger backpacks are lead-free, pvc-free, phalytes-free, bpa-free. If this isn’t correct please let me know. And what about Skip Hop backpacks? I’m in search of cute little kids backpacks – 2 years.

  7. Deanna on October 4th, 2013 9:23 pm

    Talked with Skip Hop—their backpacks have been made of PVC for years & did not inform the buyers about the change. TI does not advertise on their site that they are free of PVC but they are on many sites listed as such. They said they would get the word to the companies who have been selling their product. I feel bad for all the parents that have bought them over the yrs! I almost bought one myself as I think they are the cutest.

  8. Lynnae on November 2nd, 2013 8:49 pm

    HI there-

    I am about to purchase a backback made by Lassig. The label on the backpack I saw in person said it was Free of PVC and Pthalates. Amazon also says its free of nickel, AZO dyes, cadmium, as well as pvc & phthalates. I found mine at a local store front known for wood and imported toys, but they are on amazon and other online retailers. I’ll admit that they are not cheap..

  9. Alisha on March 22nd, 2014 11:26 am

    I was wondering is the Herschel Supply Company had any concerning products on or in the make of the toddler backpacks. I am thinking about purchasing one.

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