At the beginning of May, we celebrated our second wedding anniversary! Of course, both of our anniversaries have been in lockdown with very little in the way of celebration. My wonderful husband did unexpectedly brighten up my day with the gift of a Fjällräven Kånken backpack! I’ve been admiring these beautiful backpacks from afar for a few years, so I’m very excited!
Why Use A Backpack?
I’ve been mostly using a backpack for a few years now because they just make life easier, especially if you’re out and about with children. I look back to when my girls were babies and wonder why I didn’t just chuck all of their baby gear into a backpack. Plus, I can get terrible backache which isn’t helped by carrying bags on one shoulder. The backpack I’ve been using is a Jansport one I bought for university in 2003 (super sustainable!). It’s durable, washable and comfortable, but unfortunately not at all waterproof. This has been a real problem on days when I’m out with the girls without the car.
Fjällräven’s Kånken bags were designed in the 70s to help Swedish schoolchildren avoid back pain. The design has changed very little since then and they’ve become a bit of a style icon. Not only that but if you look after your Kånken it will last for years and years, making it a sustainable investment piece.
My Kånken is the classic size in ochre. I’m not surprised that my husband chose this colour, it’s one of my favourites! He said he struggled to choose because of being colour blind, so went with a safe option that was also vibrant. Good choice I think!
If you have a darker colour, you can soak the bag in warm water when brand new to make sure that none of the colour rubs against your clothing and marks it. I didn’t do this because of the colour I got. It’s worth noting that you should never put your Kånken bag in the washing machine. If you need to clean it you can spot treat it by brushing off any marks and rubbing with a damp cloth, or you can soak it in warm water with a little soap for anything more stubborn.
The bag is a really simple and stylish design with a more rectangular shape than many other backpacks. It has a pocket either side of the main body and a small, zippered pocket on the front. The front also has the Fjällräven reflective logo for added safety. I just love the look of it!
Let me give you a look around the inside. The double zipper allows you to open up the front of the bag completely which is incredibly useful. This would allow you to pack it like a mini suitcase for overnight or weekend trips. (Yes, I have travelled for a weekend with everything I need in my old backpack, it’s totally doable!).
The inside of the bag is basically one large compartment, with the back of the bag separated. This is to keep the seat pad inside. Yes, keep that bit of foam, it’s not packaging! The seat pad is a great feature for me. Not only does it serve as padding for your back (otherwise there is none), but gives you something a bit comfier than the ground to sit on. You might wonder how often you’ll use it, but as a parent who spends a lot of time waiting on children who are climbing trees or running around parks, I can assure you mine will get ample use! I’m actually going to buy a second one for my husband too.
Just a heads up that the Kånken Classic is not the bag for you if you want to carry a laptop around. Yes, it will fit, but it wasn’t designed for it and I’ve read that it’ll put too much strain on the straps. But don’t worry, there is a laptop version you can buy. Now that I’m home educating my girls, I’m not carrying around my laptop anymore, so this bag was the right one for me. I could easily fit A4 folders and books in here for if we take our learning out and about, so I’ll really pleased with that.
As I’m going to be using this bag for long days out in potentially busy places, I wanted to make it a little more secure. I did this by adding a mini carabiner clip which I can secure all three zips together with. It makes it just fiddly enough for deter anyone wanting to get into my bag, but still gives me quicker access than using a padlock.
The straps get mentioned in a few reviews because they’re thin and not padded. I don’t think this is a problem. First have a look at how they’re configured on the back. This cross-shape gives you maximum support for whatever weight you’re carrying and spreads the load evenly. You also have the option of using the carry handles at the top instead. For me this is super versatile and has been really handy when I’ve used it at the supermarket instead of a shopping bag.
Yes, the straps aren’t padded but I think whether you find this uncomfortable is purely personal. Yesterday we went to the beach and I was carrying two 500ml water bottles, two 350ml water bottles, sunblock, wipes, three pairs of sunglasses, various snacks and a few other things and I wasn’t uncomfortable at all. However, if you think this might be a problem Fjällräven have got you covered…
Everyone Loves An Accessory
There are accessories available for the Kånken Classic to enable you to really make the bag your own and make sure it’s what you need for your use of it. For example, you can buy waterproof covers, padded shoulder straps and chest straps, which would make your bag perfect for long hikes in wet weather. The bag is actually water resistant anyway, so I guess the covers are for torrential rain! What’s great about the accessories is you can really personalise your bag by mixing and matching colours. I’ve been looking at the pink shoulder straps for mine, although now I’m not sure I really need them.
Something I am going to invest in is the bottle pocket. The side pockets are not quite wide enough for a water bottle, despite what my Googling told me. I read that a S’well 500ml bottle fits, but I can tell you it does not. Nor does the Chilly’s 500ml bottle that I bought. I have seen people carrying bottles in their Kånkens, but they are always the fake ones! Most of the time I’ll probably chuck my water into the main part of the bag, but for longer days out when I’m carrying more I’ll get a lot of use out of the bottle pocket. Another option is to buy the water bottle that was designed for the Kånken; the Primus Klunken.
Although this is on the pricey side for a backpack, I think it’s worth it overall. It’s a classic design that isn’t going to look dated and it’s made to last. The fact that these bags can happily last for decades certainly makes them sustainable choice.
It’s roomy enough for everything you might need for a day or weekend. The accessories add to the versatility and usefulness. There are so many colour options (and even embroidered ones) that you aren’t likely to have the same as someone else.
All in all I love my Fjällräven Kånken Classic. I just wish I’d taken the plunge and bought one years ago!