New Osprey Hemp Based Sustainable Backpack Range

Osprey’s New White Label Sustainable Backpack Range is the next step in the company’s pledge to become the most eco outdoor brand.

Our aim is to become the most progressive, transparent and sustainable outdoor hardgoods brand worldwide. 2020 is a new milestone in this journey.


They’ll have tough competition of course, as this is a positive trend across the whole outdoor market, pioneered by the likes of Patagonia.

Providing the measures taken by companies are genuine, and not just greenwashing, I see this as a very positive industry trend.

Osprey White Label for Sustainable Backpack Range

Osprey 100% PFC Free by Spring ’21

PFCs are Poly-Flourinated Chemicals. They are/were extremely common in the technical fabrics used to make outdoor gear due to their water repelling properties.

Unfortunately, these chemicals can leach out of clothing and equipment into the natural environment where they can then persist for many years. Some of the chemicals are thought to have potentially harmful effects on delicate plants and animals, affecting reproduction, the hormone system, and promoting the growth of tumors.

Other notable brands that have also already pledged to cut out PFCs include:

  • Patagonia
  • Haglofs
  • Gore-Tex
  • Vaude
  • Berghaus
  • Grangers
  • Marmot
  • Nikwax
I’m not sure that’s hemp?

Osprey While Label Brand Uses Hemp as Sustainable Backpack Fabric

The new white label sustainable backpack range from Osprey features a couple of their classic flagship models, reimagined with hemp in place of the usual technical fabrics.

Why hemp? Isn’t that just for stoner hippies? Is this just greenwashing with a different type of green?

According to Osprey, Hemp is:

  • Strong, tactile and highly water-resistant natural fibre
  • High yield, low impact crop – uses 50% less water than cotton
  • Good for the environment, hemp absorbs CO2 and releases oxygen into the atmosphere

The good news is that these claims do appear to be backed up by solid research, and hemp really is a relatively sustainable crop. In addition to the points above, hemp is also very pest resistant thus requiring fewer pesticides, and also helps fix many nutrients back into the soil.

That said, there may be some form of “greenwashing” as many of the lifestyle shots of the hemp packs appear to be shot in fields of marijuana, which though a closely related cousin to hemp, are a different plant… But if a bit of stoner branding encourages people to buy more sustainable products we can live with that.

This is hemp. A hemp field in Côtes-d’Armor, Brittany, France (Europe‘s largest hemp producer). Photo by Barbetorte

Sustainable Backpacks for Town and Country

Osprey have released two packs in the White Label range:

  • The Arcane, which is an urban pack designed for everyday use
  • The Archeon which is a full on outdoor trekking backpack.

The Archeon is available for men and women, in pack sizes ranging from 25-70L.

It has all the usual great Osprey features, and the weight of the men’s 45L pack is just 2kg, which isn’t bad at all. Heavier than lightweight exos range, but not by too much if the new material really does make a positive difference to the environment.

One thing that is a little puzzling, however. While the “White Label” landing page talks of hemp and shows crop fields, when you click through to the actual Archeon product pages, there’s no more talk of hemp. Insted it says the packs are made from 100% recycled materials?

Diving deeper, there is a limited edition version of the Archane roll top which does state hemp, but for just one colour. I’m therefore thinking that in fact, the hemp thing is perhaps some greenwashing afterall, and has absolutely nothing to do with the outdoor backpack! Answers on a sustainably sourced postcard please…