Can I tell you something? Every time I see someone carrying the Fjällräven Kånken Classic (can we just agree that those are here to stay forever!), I have voiced this question in wonder or frustration- why are Fjallraven backpacks so popular?
I mean they are almost everywhere, from artisanal coffee places to hiking trails.
Judging by the popularity of this 63-year heritage brand (it’s pronounced FEE-ahl rahven, by the way), there’s a high chance that you’ve seen backpacks and jackets with the company’s iconic fox logo.
In this article, we will take a look at the history and design of Fjällräven backpacks, as well as the various factors that have contributed to the brand’s enduring popularity.
Let’s find out why.
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There are many reasons why Fjallraven backpacks are so popular, but some stick out more than others. A prominent one is that they are first and foremost made of high-quality materials, which contributes to their durability and ability to endure repeated use. Also, this Swedish brand makes functional and comfortable bags that are designed for a range of activities such as hiking, camping, and daily use.
Another reason is that Fjallraven backpacks have a simple, classic style that has remained popular for decades.
They are made by a reputable outdoor company that uses sustainable productions and supports environmental efforts like The Fjallraven Initiative to rescue the Arctic Fox.
We will go into detail below:
For many of you reading this, you’ll probably be thinking that a backpack is just a backpack— what features could Fjallraven bags possibly have that could make them stand out?
In this section, we’ll be taking a look at a few unique and endearing qualities of Fjallraven backpacks:
The biggest reason why Fjallraven backpacks are popular and why people continue to buy them is that they are incredibly durable and last for a long time.
This is due to the fact the Swedish brand uses special fabrics like G-1000, Vinylon, and wool, that are heavy-duty and weather resistant, making it ideal for use in rough environments.
Fjällräven also uses these materials in making their outdoor gear like jackets since they can resist a lot of wear and tear, and you’ll like to know that all the seams on these bags are double-stitched for increased durability.
This attention to detail makes sure that your backpack will be able to withstand whatever you throw at it, whether you’re hiking in the mountains or commuting to work.
For instance, some users on Reddit and Quora have used their Fjallraven for up to 10 years, or more, and yet it’s still in good working condition, without losing its shape!
In fact, the Kanken is even a bit of a cultural icon in Sweden, such that there are even reports of parents and grandparents passing over their Kaken backpacks to their children and grandchildren in perfect working condition.
The Kanken Classic’s only disadvantage, at least from my experience, is color fading after prolonged use, especially when used in hot climates where they are constantly exposed to direct sunlight.
So we know that when you purchase a Fjallraven backpack, you can expect it to last at least five to 10 years (okay, not forever), even if you’re a heavy user.
The Fjallraven brand designs its bags with both function and form in mind, ensuring that they meet the needs of a wide range of users.
No matter what you need a backpack for – whether it’s for school, work, travel, hunting, or hiking – there’s a Fjallraven bag that will meet your needs perfectly.
Additionally, these packs often come with helpful features.
From padded laptop sleeves to rain covers and organizational pockets to reflective fabric for safety in low-light conditions, Fjallraven has thought of everything when it comes to making their backpacks as functional as possible.
3. The bags have a beautiful Scandinavian design
A key factor contributing to their popularity is the brand’s signature minimalist aesthetic that is both timeless and modern, meaning that their backpacks will never go out of style.
It’s therefore not surprising that you’ll see them literally everywhere…especially in Europe (beware of knockoffs and buy only from reputable retailers).
The Fjallraven logo, a silhouette of a fox head, is simple but instantly recognizable while adding a touch of elegance to the overall design of the backpacks.
Additionally, their designs are inspired by the natural landscapes of the Nordic countries known for their rugged and wild beauty.
And whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast or live in the city, it’s easy to pick one that suits your taste because they are available in a range of sizes, colors, and styles for work, travel, or adventure.
4. Fjallraven backpacks feature ergonomic design for carrying comfort
Fjallraven backpacks, especially those for hiking and other outdoor adventures are comfortable to carry.
The straps in most of their backpacks are adjustable, so you can find the perfect fit for your body.
And the chest and waist straps distribute the weight evenly, so you won’t get tired even if you’re carrying a heavy load.
I should however point out that their small-medium bags sized for everyday use or travel tend to have shoulder straps that are only comfortable for short trips but not ideal on longer days or if the pack is super heavy.
An example is the Original Kånken which has thin shoulder straps that hurt when you’ve got heavy items inside.
Related: 20 Best Backpacks For Back Pain
Related: Top 15 Best Backpacks with Chest Strap
5. Fjällräven promotes sustainable production practices
Fjällräven is one of the outdoor brands that care about the environment and implements sustainable production practices.
In fact, the Scandinavian company is renowned for its special Arctic Fox initiative which aids in global conservation efforts of the Arctic Fox, a species that is endangered due to habitat loss and climate change, particularly in the Arctic.
As a result, you can feel good about supporting a brand like Fjallraven that prioritizes environmental preservation.
Alternatives to Fjallraven Backpacks
Fjallraven is unquestionably one of the few backpack brands we can still count on to provide durable, highly practical bags.
But for whatever reason, their bags might just not float your boat.
Besides, different people have different needs, and as such, what one person may consider the ideal backpack may not be for another.
Because of this, we’ve put together an unbeatable lineup of reputable alternative backpack brands that can do everything and perhaps a little bit more.
Here are top Fjallraven’s competitors and alternatives:
North Face backpacks
As one of the Fjallraven top competitors in the world, The North Face is just as hugely popular with outdoor enthusiasts.
In fact, North Face vs. Fjallraven rivalry cuts across different sectors from apparel or ‘athleisurewear’ to bags and accessories used in the outdoors!
Similarly, their inventories are both wide, so it’s impossible not to find something suitable for you, whether you’re looking for a technical backpack for adventure travel or just something small for your kid to carry to school.
However, there are differences between the two brands.
For one, we think North Face backpacks are more comfortable to wear, and they have options specially made for both male and female travelers, for a better fit.
Additionally, their backpacks come with more compartments and pockets, compared to Fjallraven.
Almost all North Face bags tend to have user-friendly and interesting features like roomy storage, protected laptop sleeves, water bottle pockets, cinch cords, whistles, etc.
For instance, the Borealis backpack is one of our all-time favorites because it’s comfortable, organized, and spacious enough to carry everything you need on a day hike or trip to the gym.
When discussing the best backpack brands, Osprey is an OG, period!
Since the 1970s, the American brand has made some of the best backpacks not just for traveling, but for also hiking, mountain climbing, biking, skiing, and even snowboarding, which is why we think it’s a great alternative to Fjallraven.
We love that Osprey offers high-quality packs in both women’s and men’s sizing for a better fit while being big on sustainability and eco-friendly practices.
My favorite is the Farpoint 40 travel pack (the Fairview 40 is for women), which I have taken on almost every travel and outdoor occasion. And if you have to ask, yes, it fits in the overhead bin of most airlines!
Like Fjallraven, Deuter is renowned for backpacks that are built to last.
Since 1898, the German company has been making specialist packs for outdoor pursuits, from ultralight hiking daypacks, to travel bags, and camera bags, as well as backpacks made specifically for sports such as trail running, skiing, and mountaineering.
But there’s more to the brand.
Deuter hasn’t just talked the talk; we appreciate that this brand offers female-specific fit packs, lifelong repair services, and is committed to ethical conduct and environmental protection.
In fact, the company claims that since 2020, all its products have been free from harmful PFC-treated materials!
Our recommendation would be the Deuter Speed Lite 21 Pack, because it’s highly rated.
Herschel Supply Co. backpacks
Herschel Supply Co. is all about bringing “old-school cool” into the modern day.
These backpacks are excellent for making a statement thanks to their retro aesthetic, vibrant colors, eccentric patterns, leather strapping, and unique designs.
But that’s not all.
You’ll find thoughtful details like a laptop pocket, a key clip, and our personal favorite, their signature red and white striped stripes lining, which is not only water-resistant but also visibly bright so that objects are easy to find.
Plus, Herschel backpacks are way more affordable than Fjallraven!
But unlike Fjallraven, Herschel doesn’t offer a lot of backpack options, and their bags aren’t practical for outdoor activities.
So, while we think the Herschel Little America is perfect for commuting to school and taking on short trips to the mall, we do not recommend it for demanding activities like hiking or lengthy adventures.
If you’re looking for an eco-friendly alternative to Fjallraven backpacks look no further than Patagonia backpacks!
This popular outdoor brand has a reputation for quality, and sustainability- they are transparent about the source of their materials and are active in nature and wildlife conservation efforts around the world.
Also, they seriously stand by their work: if a critical component of your backpack fails, they will repair it for free, for life, thanks to their Ironclad Guarantee and repair program.
Like Fjallraven, Patagonia offers a wide variety of backpacks, from practical daypacks with padded laptop compartments to maximum-capacity expedition backpacks, and technical packs made specifically for extreme sports.
What is so special about Fjällräven backpacks?
The Fjällräven brand stands out for its durability, timeless design, and often unique selling points that range from having many bag options for different activities to making high-quality backpacks that last.
To be sure, it’s not cheap.
But given its resilience—and generous warranty—your Fjallraven backpack probably will likely grow worn out long before it becomes useless, which is much better (for your wallet and the environment) than having to replace your bag once it gets damaged.
So have you tried out a Fjallraven backpack before? What are your thoughts?
For any other general luggage-related questions, you are sure to find some answers in my Ultimate Guide to Carry-on Luggage and the Ultimate Guide to Checked Luggage posts.