Review: Fjällräven Kanken

The search for a perfect bag for everyday use seemed to be an ongoing battle for me. I’ve tried numerous bags but none of them met all my needs and wants. There was always at least one thing I wasn’t happy with or the bags would not stand up to everyday wear and tear. Simplicity and storage is a key requirement for me. I need a pack that is large enough to carry my laptop, basic camera gear, extra clothing and snacks for the day. I wanted a bag that was tough and that would put up with the abuse that I generally give my bags. Luckily, I recently found one that meets all of my standards.

Last month, I picked up the Fjällräven Kanken bag from their first Canadian store in Vancouver, BC. The company was started over 50 years ago, in Sweden. They excel at producing gear for the outdoors to the city. Their logo is an arctic fox and they are helping these endangered animals survive. An interesting fact, Fjällräven also means arctic fox in Swedish. Outside of producing gear for the outdoors, they share one of my passions, which is getting people outdoors, into nature and making sure the natural environment will be around for future generations to enjoy.

Fjällräven and I share the belief ‘’… That if more people spend time in nature, more people will be advocate its preservation.” -Fjällräven


I spent a couple of hours browsing their selection of jackets, and outdoor gear and talking to their friendly staff. I then had the dilemma of trying to pick out which bag and colour I wanted. After narrowing down my options, the Kanken was the right fit. The Kanken was originally designed for school children in 1978 and is a minimalist backpack that suits a variety of uses. It’s made from Vinylon F material, which repels moisture. I feel that it is extremely well suited for everyday use. With living in Vancouver, you never know when you will be hit by rain and everything inside my backpack has remained dry. It seems like it’s going to be able to withstand a lot of use, has a laptop pocket and enough room to store camera gear or supplies for a day hike.

I’ve been testing out the backpack around the city for the past couple of weeks. The zipper gives you full access to the pack, which is helpful if you tend to fill up the bag full, like me. The straps allow you to wear it as a backpack or carry it like a tote. When you are in a crowded place, it’s handy to be able to carry it for security reasons and make more room for others.

Besides city use, I need a bag that I can take with me when I escape the city for a day hike. The Kanken holds everything I need with room to spare. The only small criticism I have is that could be improve is the side pockets by making them a little bigger. I was hoping the pocket was large enough to hold my water bottle but my stainless steel one wouldn’t fit. Luckily, I have a thinner glass bottle that will fit. Again, this is my only criticism and it is very minor.

Fjällräven Kanken
I love my Kanken. It has become my everyday bag over the past month and will continue to be. It comes with me to work, the farmers market, hikes and when I go to a cafe to get some work done. I finally found a bag that works for my life.

If you are looking for a city bag, I would recommend the Kanken. If you aren’t in Vancouver, BC or near one of the Fjällräven stores, you can order online. Fjällräven also has a large selection of outdoor gear to keep you warm and dry. The Kanken will be joining me when I head to Seattle in July, and on all my future adventures including a day bag for Cuba.

Disclosure: I received the Kanken free of charge however all opinions are my own.

33 thoughts on “Review: Fjällräven Kanken

  1. I haven’t heard of this company before but I appreciate their social conscience in supporting conservation of the Artic Fox! Hope you enjoy the bag.

    1. They are pretty new to Canada, just opened up their first store in Vancouver a couple of months ago. I’ve loved checked out their gear and making my wish list, they are a new favourite of mine.

    1. It would be and it would be easy to put your valuables in it (laptop, camera etc.) and take it with you when you head out on a walk or just into the gas station.

  2. Looks like a great bag–and it’s cute too! And it’s nice that you are able to fit so much into it. I might have to look into getting one!!

    1. It really stands out, their colour selection in store and on their website is huge. I picked my top three colours and spent over ten minutes trying to decide. The handles are durable, I’ve broken some on previous bags before and these seem like they will stand up.

  3. I have way. Too. Many. Bags.

    It is shameful.

    I’ve finally found luggage that works for my life–a tech backpack and a small roller carry on–but as for a day bag? Nope. Still nothing that’s perfect. Jealous that you’ve found something that works for you.

    1. I’m still on the search for the perfect luggage for me. I’ve been using a MEC backpack but I’m thinking of getting a backpack that has wheels for my luggage. Good luck in your search!

  4. I love Fjällräven backpacks! They come in so many colours. I hadn’t thought of using them as a camera bag though. Did you find there was enough padding?

    1. I did but the bag is pretty thin. I usually wrap a scarf around it or put it in my extra layers when on the go to be extra careful. There is a camera insert you can buy, which allows you to store lens, accessories and has extra padding! I may buy that soon.

  5. Nice! Im planning on getting one too! but there’s too many colours to choose from!! Lol. Is the bag comfy though? Since there’s no shoulder padding on the straps. I tend to dump a lot of items inside. Oh! one more question, how do you clean your bag?

    1. I love mine still! I agree, the most difficult part is choosing a colour, it took me about an hour to decide. I wouldn’t say it is super comfortable but for me, it works and isn’t uncomfortable. I tend to pack a lot but usually it isn’t too heavy. You may want to consider the padded straps that you can buy separately that would make it more comfortable.

      I wash mine in my bathtub, with some mild soap. It’s holding up well and I use a small brush for the stubborn dirt.

  6. I am searching for a water bottle that will fit my Kanken and found your blog post. Where did you get your glass bottle? Can you give me the brands name, please? I live in Europe, so I’m not sure if it will be easy to get one. Thank you for your post 🙂

    1. Just a quick info: The Contigo “Jackson” is the only bottle I found that fits in the side pockets. It’s sold on Amazon in Europe as well.

  7. I’m a college student, packing a lot of heavy things.. and i’m starting to have back problems. I was looking into the larger models of kanken, however would you say they are comfortable with a large load? (I.e. the straps and the weight distribution )

    1. For me, the straps work well but you can now get padded straps, which should help you when you are carrying a heavy load. To be honest, my load isn’t heavy compared to what it was when I was a student. For weight distribution, I haven’t had any issues yet!

      Sorry to hear about the back problems!

  8. Whats the brand of water bottle you have? Ive been looking all over for one that is comfortable and can actually fit in the Kanken pockets. I couldn’t find your brand based on the picture alone… thnx

    1. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a brand name as it was from a giveaway I received. A friend brought her bag to a store though and was able to find one after hunting for a bit though!

  9. Hello, I like your blog! I’m thinking of buying one backpack for me but can’t decide what size! I have macbook 13inch but I think the 13 backpack is too small and I need it for travelling (onboard) as well and for occasionally stuffing it with things. What do you think, is 15 okay for me? I don’t think it’s really a problem when I have 13 laptop and I buy bigger backpack. But there are so many sizes I can’t decide. The only thing I know is the color – graphite 🙂 I ‘m totally in love with it! Thanks in advance… in my country (Slovakia) I don’t know anyone w F.K. experience 😀 Cheers, Lia

    1. Thanks Lia! I have a 13″ Mac Air and it fits! I know a MacBook is a bit thicker, but to be safe, it’s probably better to go with the bigger size. You’ll love it, the hardest thing for me was to pick the colour.

      1. Hi Megan I was living in Vancouver too! I have been so confused about the fjallraven kanken backpack recently. Would it be too tight for a 13″ backpack to fit a 13″ Mac Air? I wanna carry it to school with my laptop and I’m not sure about if it will be annoying to put or take out the laptop… Thank you!

      2. Hi Vivian!

        I had a Mac Air 13″ and didn’t have any issue. I’ve updated to the Pro and it fits without any issue! Hope you treat yourself and love your new bag.

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