The Mighty Fjällräven Kånken

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By Jonathan Simcoe
Fjällräven began making their iconic Kånken backpack for Swedish schoolchildren in 1978. Everything about the product and brand exudes lagom.

The goal was to make a lightweight, sturdy pack for school children that wouldn't hurt when packed full of school gear. Since then, it is has evolved to be one of their most iconic products, suitable for carrying all kinds of goods by people of any age.

Fascinated with the design of this product, I reached out to the Fjällräven team to see if I could get my hands on a pack to carry around and review.

Along the way, I ended up replacing the multitude of packs that I have owned over the past several years and the Kånken has become my standard daily carry while on the go.

* * *

Arguably one of the most important aspect of any created product, is not just how it looks, and functions, but how it feels. The feeling that a person gets using a product is important because it determines how likely someone is to return time and again.

I can't tell you how many pens I've used that look beautiful on the shelf, but when used for more than a second reveal their sinister, poorly-designed nature.

This is certainly not the case with the Kånken. The more I use it, the more I enjoy and appreciate it and come back to it as a part of my standard daily carry.

The Mighty Fjällräven Kånken - Photo 1 of 3 - The Kånken lays flat and creates easy access on any table or desk.

The Kånken lays flat and creates easy access on any table or desk.

The first thing that began to grow on me was the compact size. I try to keep my daily carry items fairly pruned and previous packs had cavernous main compartments, making it awkward to carry with all my items jumbling around inside. The small square shape of the Kånken holds well, particularly with the photo insert creating a shell around the innards of the pack. The insert helps maintain the square shell of the shape and gives some structure for my assortment of items inside.

The Mighty Fjällräven Kånken - Photo 2 of 3 - The Fjällräven emblems adorn the black shoulder straps. Black on black keep things subtle.

The Fjällräven emblems adorn the black shoulder straps. Black on black keep things subtle.

For the first several weeks I used the Kånken solely in handle-carry mode, like a briefcase. With a lightweight carry it is nice to be able to grab the handle and go. Over the past several weeks I've been exploring using the shoulder straps more. I like that I can mix it up and have the best of both worlds.

The Mighty Fjällräven Kånken - Photo 3 of 3 - The Kånken wears well. The sense of patina from use builds a character all its own.

The Kånken wears well. The sense of patina from use builds a character all its own.

* * *

There is something about the Kånken that keeps me coming back. Maybe it's the small attention to details. Maybe it's the iconic and different shape. The whole thing feels well executed and simple. It's not more than it needs to be.

That probably sums up what I like the most. The sense of lagom that it brings along. Fjällräven is a Swedish brand after all...

...I would expect nothing less :)