Our Verdict

4.7/5

Welcome to our Fjallraven Kanken backpack review.

Trendy, simple, and well-made with a variety of color options, the ever-versatile Fjallraven Kanken is always a practical choice.That is, if you don’t mind the lack of padding on the straps, properly sized pockets, and a dedicated space for your laptop.

But then again, there are Kanken laptop models if a laptop pocket is important to you.

Our Verdict

4.7/5
Welcome to our Fjallraven Kanken backpack review.
Trendy, simple, and well-made with a variety of color options, the ever-versatile Fjallraven Kanken is always a practical choice.

That is, if you don’t mind the lack of padding on the straps, properly sized pockets, and a dedicated space for your laptop.

But then again, there are Kanken laptop models if a laptop pocket is important to you.

Our Verdict

4.7/5
Welcome to our Fjallraven Kanken backpack review.
Trendy, simple, and well-made with a variety of color options, the ever-versatile Fjallraven Kanken is always a practical choice.

That is, if you don’t mind the lack of padding on the straps, properly sized pockets, and a dedicated space for your laptop.

But then again, there are Kanken laptop models if a laptop pocket is important to you.

Pros

  • Durable

Built to last, the Kanken is made with a very durable material with a timeless style and functionality.

  • Water-resistant

The fabric protects the contents of your bag from spills and rain.

  • Classic design

The bag is small and cute and has many beautiful colors  .

  • Lightweight

At only 0.94lbs, the Kanken is an ultra lightweight bag designed for the casual commute to the more strenuous outdoor adventure.

  • Color varieties

There’s a long list of fun colors you can choose from- 58 of them! So, there’s a color out there for just about everyone.

  • Quick grab handle

Designed with convenience in mind, you can choose to carry this bag as a backpack or deploy the super-sturdy and comfortable grab handle.

  • Extras

The bag comes with a seat pad, address label, and a reflective logo for visibility.

  • Lifetime warranty

Should your bag develop issues, Fjallraven has a lifetime warranty. They’ll repair any  of their items free of cost to cut down on over manufacturing.

Cons

  • Organizational features not topnotch

There aren’t enough pockets and compartments in the bag to enable you arrange and separate your items as you’d like.

  • Shoulder strap pads

The main complaint is that the built- in straps are too thin and not the most comfortable, especially when you’ve loaded the bag with heavy items.

  • No dedicated laptop pocket

Unlike what you’d expect from modern backpacks, the Kanken doesn’t have a dedicated space for your laptop and other tech equipment.

  • Not suitable for heavy items

This backpack is not ideal for carrying heavy items because its harness system has less padding than one would expect.

Pros

  • Durable

Built to last, the Kanken is made with a very durable material with a timeless style and functionality.

  • Water-resistant

The fabric protects the contents of your bag from spills and rain.

  • Classic design

The bag is small and cute and has many beautiful colors  .

  • Lightweight

At only 0.94lbs, the Kanken is an ultra lightweight bag designed for the casual commute to the more strenuous outdoor adventure.

  • Color varieties

There’s a long list of fun colors you can choose from- 58 of them! So, there’s a color out there for just about everyone.

  • Quick grab handle

Designed with convenience in mind, you can choose to carry this bag as a backpack or deploy the super-sturdy and comfortable grab handle.

  • Extras

The bag comes with a seat pad, address label, and a reflective logo for visibility.

  • Lifetime warranty

Should your bag develop issues, Fjallraven has a lifetime warranty. They’ll repair any  of their items free of cost to cut down on over manufacturing.

Cons

  • Organizational features not topnotch

There aren’t enough pockets and compartments in the bag to enable you arrange and separate your items as you’d like.

  • Shoulder strap pads

The main complaint is that the built- in straps are too thin and not the most comfortable, especially when you’ve loaded the bag with heavy items.

  • No dedicated laptop pocket

Unlike what you’d expect from modern backpacks, the Kanken doesn’t have a dedicated space for your laptop and other tech equipment.

  • Not suitable for heavy items

This backpack is not ideal for carrying heavy items because its harness system has less padding than one would expect.

 

Fjallraven Kanken Backpack Review 2020

Hello, and welcome to my review of the classic Fjallraven Kanken backpack.

Kanken backpack is one of the most popular bags on the market today. 

But then again, it is also one of the oldest packs; it has been available for sale since the late 1970s when it was first launched.

Fjallraven Kanken backpack review: Fjallraven Kanken twitter image

That said, you may be wondering, like me – why is it still popular today?

And most importantly, does it meet expectations you have for a 21st century backpack?

Well, let’s find out together in this Fjallraven Kanken Classic backpack review.

Fjällräven In a Snapshot

The Fjallraven is a well-known Swedish outdoor apparel company.

What do we know about its origins?

In the early 1950’s, a young Swedish adventurer, Ake Nordin, wasn’t satisfied with the clunky backpacks that existed at the time. He decided to design his own – a large wooden-frame bag made out of cotton and leather straps. With a cellar as his workshop, he registered Fjallraven in 1960.

In 1978, Fjallraven was determined to solve the problem of backpain suffered by nearly 80% of Swedes.

The result was the Kanken, a bag which redistributed weight better than existing bags, spreading fully across the back comfortably.

Forty years later, Fjallraven has transformed into a global outdoor brand, from Sweden to Europe, North America, and beyond.

At the core of Fjallraven lies a deep commitment to the natural world, as their eco-conscious ethics and attention to detail show.

Aside from the Kanken, the brand has since designed travel packs, hip packs, duffels, clothing items, totes – with reliability and quality in mind.

Table of Contents

Design & Quality

Fjallraven Kanken backpack review: Fjallraven Kanken pastel lavender
Credit: Fjallraven

It’s easy to see why the Fjallraven Kanken has been a popular and stylish choice amongst adults and children alike since 1978.

The Kanken is iconic. It’s minimalist appearance – the cute boxy shape, the well-clasped handles, and the main front outside pocket – makes it aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

What’s more, there are more than 50 colors to choose from,  setting the Fjallraven Kaken backpack refreshingly apart in a world of often boring colored utility bags. 

Fjallraven Kanken backpack review: Fjallraven Kanken color collections
Credit: Fjallraven

And then there’s the matter of the long-lasting  Vinylon F material it is made of which makes this a quality bag. 

All these qualities have altogether helped to make the Kaken into a bit of a cultural icon, such that there are even reports of parents and grandparents passing over their Kaken backpacks to their children and grandchildren in perfect working condition.

That’s durability for you, and some might argue sustainability too!

This colorful simplistic backpack happens to be a versatile piece whether you’re on the trail or the bus. 

Materials & Construction

Fjallraven Kanken backpack review: Fjallraven Kanken front and back view
Credit: Fjallraven

The bag is made with 100% Vinylon F – a highly durable material that is unique to the brand and used in most of their bags. 

It is not only lightweight (0.94lbs only), it dirt resistant and you’ll be glad to know that the pack is water resistant.

What’s more, all the zips on the bag have rain flaps to prevent water from entering directly into the zipper.

These give your contents some protection from slight rain. However, it’s not waterproof, so you may want to consider a rain cover, which you can find on the Fjallraven website just in case.

The shoulder straps on the Kanken are adjustable and webbed with 100% Polypropylene – another durable, long-lasting material.

The zippers used are YKK; they are very reliable and smooth.

Fjallraven Kanken backpack review: Fjallraven Kanken pros and cons

Other features of the Fjallraven Kanken Classic 

This bag comes with a seat pad, located at the back of the main compartment.

The seat pad is useful as it doesn’t only protect and cushion your back, but is also removable and can be placed wherever you choose to sit for added comfort.

Another cool feature that the Kanken has is the snap at the top which you can use to secure the two handles together and carry your items by hand if you wish to give your shoulders a break.

For branding, you’ll see the conspicuous red logo design of the Fjallraven in front of the bag, which also serves as a light reflector.  

So what are the drawbacks? After all, that’s what this Fjallraven Kanken backpack review is for!
 
Well, the bag lacks the following features you’d expect in a modern bag: 

  • padding on the straps;
  • variety of internal pockets; and
  • a dedicated space for your laptop.

Note: Although some people keep their laptops in the seat pad space for expediency, it is not safe to do so as the pocket is not well padded. 

Other Kanken [Laptop] Models You Should Know About

Fjallraven Kanken backpack review: Fjallraven Kanken Laptop model back and front view

Since 1978, the Fjallraven Kanken has been developed into different versions that come in different sizes, colors, and materials modified over time to address particular needs that others do not.

There are the laptop versions, the Mini-version for small children, more eco-friendly versions made entirely from recycled polyester or wools…and even one with slings.

A frequent question that people ask is ‘What is the best Kanken backpack?’ 

As I mentioned earlier, the backpack has been modified to address different needs. Choosing the best Kanken backpack depends on your needs or personal preference.

However, a well-protected laptop compartment is a needed modern-day luxury and that’s always a bonus in my book.

Fjallraven Kanken backpack review: Fjallraven Kanken Laptop model back view

Luckily, the Kanken has three different laptop versions with a dedicated laptop compartment for your 13” 15” and 17” laptop in the Kanken Laptop 13”,  Kanken Laptop 15” or the Kanken Laptop 17 respectively. 

But be aware that these models have reduced color options and are dearer than the Kanken original.

All in all, no matter what you go for, you can be confident that the Kanken backpacks are not only durable, and customizable, they are iconic – likely to stand the test of time in a world of fast fashion bags that can sometime break down all too easily. 

Fit & Comfort

Fjallraven Kanken backpack review: Fjallraven Kanken back view with features
Credit: Fjallraven

The harness system here is unique to the brand. It comes with a simple strap system.

The main complaint is that the straps are too thin and hurt when you’ve got heavy items inside.

However, the brand offers optional strap pads that are sold at an additional cost.

To get the best out of this bag, don’t overload the bag.

Also, there’s a simple seat pad in the back which also functions as a padding for your back and adds a bit of structure to the bag.

Fjallraven Kanken backpack review: Fjallraven Kanken on a female model
Credit: Fjallraven

The Kanken is user-friendly in that it offers two ways of carrying it – on your back or with your hands. And just by the handle, there’s a little snap to keep them together and neat.

What’s more? You can always use it as a carry-on on flights. 

I should add that based on my research, the straps on this bag rarely ever break.

Storage & Organization

Fjallraven Kanken backpack review: Fjallraven Kanken pocket and compartment
Credit: Fjallraven

In term of storage, it looks small but this 16L bag holds a lot.

It’s versatile too, such that you can use it daily for school, work, grocery shopping, and even as a personal item on a flight.

However, if you want a bag with lots of interior pockets and compartments to organize and separate small items, the Fjallraven Kanken isn’t that bag.

The different pockets and compartments 

Front pocket: The front pocket ideal for things you want to grab quickly like a phone, keys, guidebooks, power bank, granola bars, and such.

Fjallraven Kanken backpack review: Fjallraven Kanken inside compartmentFjallraven Kanken backpack review: Fjallraven Kankem front and side pockets

Two side pockets: On the sides, there are two narrow pockets for a small water bottle, an umbrella or even your phone. It’s not large enough for a full-sized water bottle.

Main compartment: The main compartment opens in an almost clamshell-style into a large space where you can organize your items however you like.   

If you are obsessed with tidiness, you can organize your smaller items in a pouch or packing cubes, especially if you’ll be traveling with the bag.

Fjallraven Kanken backpack review: Fjallraven Kanken inside compartmentFjallraven Kanken backpack review: Fjallraven Kankem front and side pockets

Price

Summary of a typical Fjallraven bag – well-made products with a moderate price tag.

The Kanken bag is currently sold for $80, and if you consider the long-lasting materials used and their commitment to the environment, it’s justifiable.

In my opinion, if you’re looking for a new gear and have enough money to spare, Fjallraven is a good bet.

Warranty

Fjallraven offers a Limited Lifetime Warranty. This essentially means that if your bag gets damaged due to manufacturing defects, they will fix it, at no cost to you.

Note that this only applies if you buy the bag from their website or from an authorized seller.  You’re also expected to have a receipt of purchase from an authorized seller to claim the warranty.  

What isn’t covered however are accidental damages such as stains, fading, discolorations, rips or abrasions from extensive use.

You can learn more about the warranty term here.

Users Thoughts/Reviews

Fjallraven Kanken backpack review: Fjallraven Kanken twitter image

So, is the Kanken backpack worth it?

Most customers love their fjällräven kånken, mostly because it’s very durable. There are reports of the bag being used for several years, yet remaining in good working condition.

But what are the complaints from a user (s) perspective?

The straps have received the most complaints. They are too thin and hurt when the bag is full of heavy items.

Also, others noted that it gets dirty easily, especially if you opt for those very bright colors.

Another issue may be how you may have to buy a more cushioned strap from the brand, at an extra cost to you.

But generally, this bag is an investment that’ll serve you a long time if you decide to get it.

Alternative to consider: Fjallraven Re-Kanken

Fjallraven Kanken backpack review: Fjallraven Re-Kankan backpack

If you like this bag but only wish it was more eco-friendly, Fjallraven has developed a more sustainable version made from polyester recycled from 11 used plastic bottles.

Called the Re-Kanken, it has the same features as the original Kanken pack while also allowing you to make an ethical purchase.

It’s looks good, is comfortable and is made with lightweight and heavy-duty fabric.

However, it could do with more pockets for organization and bigger side pockets. But these are minor details you can live with.

You can check it out here.

If you’re always with your laptop, you may want to consider the Kanken Laptop 13”,  Kanken Laptop 15” or the Kanken Laptop 17” bags instead.

By the way, if you are passionate about eco-friendly backpacks that are just as reliable, well-made and versatile for any occasion, you’ll love my detailed review on the 10 Best Ecofriendly backpacks.  

Final Thoughts

We’ve come to the end of the Fjallraven Kanken backpack review. In summary, the backpack is cute, durable, offers a variety of color options, and can hold more than one would expect for a small bag.

Therefore, its 4.5 out of a possible 5 rating is not surprising.

The Kanken is a small bag; that means limited storage. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, depending on where you stand on the subject.

In my opinion, this bag is perfectly suited for a minimalist – not too much, not too little, just enough.

Nonetheless, if you want more storage, you may want to check out my review of the North Face Borealis Backpack.

Kindly let me know if you have a Fjallraven Kanken and your experience with it.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

This article is not sponsored in any way by any company. This backpack have been independently selected by myself and my team. And the only thing I receive is a small commission from our affiliate program if you buy any of them through the links and buttons on this page. It doesn’t cost you a penny. But it really helps me out as this money goes to paying for maintaining the website, editing software, my time, team and everything else that goes into preparing this post.  

6 thoughts on “Fjallraven Kanken Backpack Review: Is It Still a Modern Option?”

  1. Great review, I like to read reviews when purchasing travel accessories, you want to make sure that the product you get is good. When you travel you want a good bag so you don’t need to stress about that. I was thinking of purchasing one of those backpacks for my next trip, thank you for sharing.
    Lyne

    Reply
  2. What I really like about this back pack is its durability. If grandparents pass it down to their grandchildren, that means that they last for a really long time 😉 and the material is of strong and good quality. Do some of them come wihouth leather or do they all have leather? And sorry for my ignorance, but what exactly is a seat pad? I was just wondering, since I had not heard of that term before 🙂

    Reply
    • Hey Christine,

      Thanks for commenting.

      The removable seat pad is quite unique to the Kanken; I haven’t seen or heard of anything like it in other packs so I can appreciate the question. I doubt that many folks use it as a pad to sit on. Instead I believe the pad is there to give that boxy shape to the backpack. Plus it helps to cushion the bag against the user’s back.

      The best-selling classic Kanken doesn’t come with leather. It is the variant model – Kanken No 2 – that comes with leather accents.

      Cheers
      Femi

      Reply
  3. Thanks for this review of Fjallraven Knken backpack. I’ve read a few of your reviews so far, and I’m always happy with the information that you provide. As for this backpack, I’m not a big fan. A few of my friends have it because it hip, but in my opinion, it’s not the best option out there. The one you did on NortFace Jester is a far better option for city and country as well. In any case, I just wanted to stop by and say thanks for sharing another cool review. Keep up the good work.

    Reply

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