Meet Camilla and Her Fjällräven Kånken Backpack Review

Fjällräven Kånken backpack review

The following Fjällräven Kånken backpack review was submitted by Camilla.

I am 23 year old woman from Sweden. I love to travel and see the world, but since I am still studying at university, I have mostly travelled within Europe and Sweden, and once in the US. The bag I am reviewing was made in my country, and it’s one of the most popular bags there – I see it everyday when people commute and go shopping. The name Kånken means roughly “the lug”, as in lugging something.

What’s your backpack brand and model? How much does this backpack typically cost?

My backpack is a Fjällräven Kånken, in the standard 16L size, which goes for about €79, but I always use it with the additional shoulder pads that go for €20.

>> Check out prices for the Fjallraven Kanken backpack on Amazon.

How long have you had your backpack and where have you traveled with it?

I’ve had my backpack for at least five years. I’ve mostly used it for school, but I also traveled a week in London with it as a carry-on. For my biology project at university I spent a month out in the woods with it as a daypack.

Fjällräven Kånken backpack review

What factors were most important to you in choosing a backpack?

For me, it is important that the bag is weightless when empty, but also comfortable even when it’s full. I also value being able to have my things organised in different pockets and sections.

What do you like most about your backpack? Any down sides?

It is light-weight and waiting to be stuffed: I like organisation and compartments, which isn’t Kånken’s strong side – it only has four pockets: two side pockets, one big compartment and one small in front. But in return the bag is light-weight (at 300g, it is lighter than a soda can) and easily stuffable.

For this review I put a full binder into it to show the size, but you can easily stuff even more things into it, like some clothes around the sides. I usually put in one or two packing cubes that works as my organisers for my small things. The two side pockets are great for umbrellas, bottles, sunglasses and things of that size and shape, and the front pocket is nice for quick-grab items like napkins and snacks.

Fjällräven Kånken backpack review
The bag has a two-way zipper that allows you to fully open it to see and grab all your stuff.

It lasts: I love that the bag is so durable (no wear and tear after all these years, except the discoloured bottom), as well as washable – when I bought it the bag company recommended a light hand wash and then re-applying wax to keep it waterproof, but I’ve machine washed it (on the gentle setting) two or three times without re-applying waterproofing, and it survived fine. I do think it’d need a new coat though, because it is not as waterproof as it used to be.

>>See why you should clean your luggage after a trip.

Tell us about the fit and comfort level of your backpack.

The built in straps can easily hurt when you carry a heavy load, but if you spend the extra €20 for the shoulder pads it is as comfortable as can be. I am a mere 155cm (5’2”), but I have never looked at the bag and thought it was too big, nor too heavy when it is full.

Along with the two shoulder straps, the bag also has two carrying handles, which is great when you need to have you bag ready at customs or whenever you don’t want to have the bag on you back, like in small souvenir shops when you have to squeeze through.

>>Read about the best backpacks for slim and petite women.

Fjällräven Kånken backpack review
Here’s how the bag looks with and without the shoulder pads. Camilla never uses the bag without the pads. Unfortunately they don’t sell matching green ones.

If you want to take your backpack as carry-on luggage, can you?

Yes! At a mere 16L, the bag works perfectly as a carry-on.

Have you found the size to be too small, just right, or too large?

The bag is just right as a carry on, but depending on where you’re going (or what you’re carrying) it might be too large for a daypack – if you’re exploring the city you might as well just go with a smaller handbag. When I use it for school I can without problems carry a laptop, a writing pad and a textbook, along with other necessary things like snacks, wallet, water bottle, sunglasses and emergency charger.

Overall, would you recommend your backpack?

I highly recommend the Fjällräven Kånken to everyone who wants a simple, light-weight, durable bag that does exactly what it’s supposed to, with no extra fuss (or weight).

About the author: Camilla Nilsson is a environmental biologist from Sweden, but is currently studying environmental and health protection. She has mostly travelled within Europe but wants to see the world. She is also does illustrations and sews in her free time.

Fjällräven Kånken Backpack Review pin

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Written by Ali

Ali Garland is a freelance writer, blogger, and travel addict who made it to all 7 continents before her 30th birthday. She enjoys travel planning, encouraging others to see the world, and packing carry-on only. She and her husband are expats living in Berlin. You can find Ali at Ali's Adventures and Travel Made Simple.

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Gear We Use

Organization

Packing Cubes – Organize your luggage with the lightweight, durable and compressible Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes.


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Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

Sea to Summit – Of all the Sea to Summit products, our most recommended is the fits-in-your-palm, super packable Ultra-Sil Daypack.


Personal Care

Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


Clothing

Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

Anatomie – Anatomie travel pants come with luxury prices, but they offer many benefits for travelers. See our review of the famous Skyler pants.

Travel Resources

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Skyscanner – Skyscanner is our preferred site for searching flights. They offer unbiased search results and are free from hidden fees. You can also book your hotels and rental cars.


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Booking.com – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Hostelworld – For hostels, Hostelworld remains our number one source for booking stays. Choose from straight up hostels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Svenja says

    Love the Kånken! I actually have two of them, one 16 l classic and a slightly bigger one with a laptop compartment (20 l, I think).
    I’ve had the 16 l one for almost 30 years, used it as a school backpack as a kid, then rediscovered it a couple of years ago – and used it again as a school backpack (this time as a teacher 😉).
    I’ve recently upgraded to the Kånken with laptop compartment for school and as an overnighter for conferences, but I still use my trusted old 16 l Kranken as an everyday daypack when I need something bigger than a purse.

  2. Emma says

    Denmark here – we love them too! They are incredibly durable! The one I use sometimes used to be my dads back when he was in high school, and it’s been used well throughout the years. The wear and tear does show on mine by now and I’ve closed a rip with needle and thread, but I like the beat-up look of it, and love the fact that I use a 30-year old bag!
    the models with laptop compartments are great too! The only reason I don’t use one for everyday school basis is that I bike to the university and easily get sore shoulders, so I need that hip belt!

  3. AJ says

    FINALLY! I found the true definition of the word “kanken”. Spent not one hour and even google translate didn’t have the word, because I assume it is a slang. THANK YOU 🙂

  4. Nik says

    Thanks for this post, thanks to it I learned about the add-on padded straps! I’ve seen these backpacks a lot both online and in person, but I’d never seen anything about straps. It was odd to me because I thought the Kanken looked like a fantastic backpack – one of those great, minimalist but super-versatile all-rounders like the Jansport SuperBreak or the Eastpak Padded Pak’r – but I couldn’t make sense of those weird skinny straps that were bound to dig in! All the other backpacks like that have nice, cushy straps – nothing too over-the-top complicated with gel inserts and all the other clutter, just a pair of simple cushioned straps, sometimes with a grippy material on the underside so they don’t slide off your shoulders.

    But the Kanken packs I saw never did, and it was so weird to me! Now it makes sense 🙂 I guess this makes it possible to keep the price of the packs lower (so all the kids could have one and save their backs) and I suppose they wouldn’t dig in too badly over a thick winter coat. But if you want to use it during the summer, you can get the cushy straps!

    Pretty smart:-)

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