The Fjällräven Kånken has blown up this year- you’ve seen them on the backs of the coolest elementary students and somehow they had cameos in 90% of your cousin’s spring break snaps with her sorority sisters, but did you know that the brand behind the little square pack with the adorable fox actually has real outdoorsman chops?
Started in 1960’s Northern Sweden by a young hiker who saw a need for backpacks to have better weight distribution, Fjällräven was the first company to commercially make and distribute framed backpacks. Since then, although the company has grown and evolved, “the fundamental ideas remain the same; provide functional, durable, and timeless equipment to make the outdoors more enjoyable for all.”
Seems like a pretty lofty goal for a company best known for the small square pack stacked 10 high in every color of the rainbow at Urban Outfitters known as the Kånken, so we decided to pick one up and try it for review.
Who am I kidding?! I saw the Kånken everywhere with the cute little fox logo and stylized, back to basics shape and talked myself into needing a daypack that looked less serious than my old NorthFace for when i ride my bike to happy hour. I conveniently justified my $80 purchase by being able to review it on CIE. Writing for this site is great!
GETTING TO KNOW IT
I picked up the “classic” style which measures at 10 ¼”W x 15″H x 5”D – I checked the website and there are 16 different types of Kånken available to order (whoa.) I settled on the Navy blue only because I was trying to branch out in my color choices after a recent coworker-staged intervention about teal. The fabric is nice to touch, durable and coated (description from link above calls it “vinylon”…whatever that is), and the zippers are of a nice quality. Stitching seems quality. I really like that you can snap together the top handles and pull the backpack straps away/snap them to the bag as well, which allows you to easily carry the Kånken as a tote. The front pocket comfortably fits your phone and some other small stuff, and there are 2 taller side pockets, which are big enough for my umbrella but not my 25oz S’well bottle, which has to live in the main compartment. Bummer.
On the inside, there is a back tech pocket with a big piece of foam in it. I honestly thought this was packing material and took it out, but this actually what helps the daypack hold its iconic square shape. So keep that in there- if you actually wanted to store tech in that area, the foam would also be the only added cushion to the pack. Nordstrom says you can use it as an “on-the -go- seat- pad” which I guess is useful if you find yourself needing 15”x10x1/4” of foam to sit on…
GETTING TO USE IT
The bag made its first trip to Memphis, where I used it as a carryall. We spent the entire rainy day partying and exploring on foot, and the little pack certainly withstood the abuse. I was able to fit a change of shoes, a light jacket, 2 umbrellas, a phone charger, iPad, wallet, sunglasses, S’well bottle, hairbrush and a bunch of allergy medication into the pack with plenty of extra space. And since it looks so utilitarian (thanks navy color choice!), my man didn’t seem to cringe as much as usual when I asked him to hold my pack while i was doing something (MAJOR WIN). Both carrying options were used (backpack/tote) and proved to be comfortable throughout the day. The Kånken was used and abused in the rain, thrown on the ground, etc and the interior remained dry.
I did encounter some annoyances with the zippers. Fjällräven considers the zippers opening 3/4 the way around the pack (only leaving the bottom side attached at all times) a highlight of the product, but in reality I occasionally left a zipper not-completely closed and had items fall out of my bag. This can be easily avoided by making sure that the zippers meet at the top of the bag when you close it, although I still occasionally have problems with it.
Since coming back from Memphis, I have continued to use the Kånken as my daily pack and have been satisfied with it. I wouldn’t suggest the classic size for serious backpacking adventures, but it makes a great day pack since the simple, no-frills approach really maximize the interior space.The pack is not cheap, but you can definitely feel the quality from the first time you use it and materials are suited for whatever you have to throw at it. Fjällräven appears have lived up to its outdoor origins even with the super popular Kånken and I would recommend their other products on the basis of this little basic pack.
If you are interested in purchasing a Fjällräven Kånken, you can do so on Amazon by clicking the link below. Your purchase will help CampingIsEasy.com continue our mission to provide quality content.