Review: Fjallraven rucksack from Complete Outdoors

I do like rugged outdoors gear that also manages to be über beautiful. Hence, I have a bit of a style crush on my new Fjallraven rucksack, £125.99 from Complete Outdoors, which I have been cycling with, hiking with and, er, pug cuddling with. I also made Pete cart it around on the beach. Doesn’t he look nice?

Fjallraven Rucksack review

Fjallraven rucksack review

Fjallraven hails from Sweden, where their rucksacks have a cult following, and their iconic looks have gained the brand a huge fanbase south of Scandinavia. These beautiful backpacks are now a hipster wardrobe staple, but are they as useful in a blizzard as they are in Brixton?

Product description: “Medium-size backpack in classic Fjällräven style, made from a more durable version of Fjallraven’s waxed G-1000 material. Perfect for both everyday use in town or time spent in the forest. The clean lines and functional details in natural tone leather mean that it meets all of the requirements to become a favourite for many years to come. The main compartment is loaded from the top, comes equipped with a snow lock and has an inner pocket with a padded bottom to hold a laptop. It also has a removable seat pad and a pocket that holds a thermos in an upright position, and the light-coloured lining makes it easier to see the contents. The top lid is held in place by straps that attach to metal nubs on the front. One large front pocket and side pockets.”

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City commute: The perfect size for zipping speedily through traffic, the Fjallraven is light and highly breathable. The laptop pocket keeps a smallish computer or an IPad snug and upright, and the myriad other inner pockets and roomy side and front compartments stores all your important things (like keys. Or mars bars) safely. It also looks the business – Fjallraven’s famed G-1000 heavy-duty waxed cotton just gets better with use, and the leather detailing, from the sleepy arctic fox on the front to the neat little tag pronouncing the bag ‘Designed to Last by Fjällräven Örnsköldsvik”, is a work of art. If you’re a nature lover but don’t fancy wrapping up in clunky day-glo plastic kit for the pleasure of getting outdoors, Fjallraven’s clean looks and muted pistachio hue will make you cry stylish tears of joy.

Hiking in the rain: The rucksack is loaded from the top, and a snow lock pulls tight shut to keep everything safe from rain and sleet. An internal pocket will hold a bottle of water upright, and the whole thing feels comfortable and light, even after hiking for miles. You won’t fit much more than a jumper and a mac into it – it’s definitely best used as a day pack. The only irksome design element are the metal nubs that hold the leather straps in place, which are fiddly to do up. They seem to get easier to manipulate as the leather softens with use, though.

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Pug friendliness: Extreme. French pug Roux of Edith’s House cafe in Rye gave my bag her seal of approval.

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Verdict: It’s weather resistant, as the G-1000 material infused with Greenland wax does a fantastic job of repelling water. It’s roomy and practical. But let’s all be honest – you want one of these babies so much because a Fjallraven is a seriously beautiful cult classic. It’s rugged vintage eye candy for your shoulders. There are a plethora of other functional backpacks that’ll keep your stuff dry, but if you’re a fan of the magical coupling of style and substance and you’re keen to invest in kit that will go the distance and look good whilst doing it, pick a Fjallraven piece.

My Fjallraven rucksack is a 21 Medium from fantastic gear website Complete Outdoors. The rest of their Fjallraven collection includes roomy dufflebags, classic rucksacks and work-friendly totes. Read more about the history of Fjallraven here.

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8 Comments

  1. Fabio.
    February 6, 2014 / 12:33 pm

    Good review! Am considering treating myself with one of these for my birthday in a few days time but I am concerned with the size . . . You mentioned “You won’t fit much more than a jumper and a mac into it . . . ” and then, “It’s roomy and practical. ” . . . I want to use it mostly for my daily commute but I do hiking too so I need a bit of room. Have you used the 21 Large?

    Too many questions! I hope that is OK. It would be great to have your advice!

  2. sian
    Author
    February 9, 2014 / 4:48 pm

    Hi Fabio 🙂

    I’d say get the large, as the Fjallravens sit quite flat when they’re empty, so even a bigger size isn’t bulky. Mine is definitely roomy enough for the daily commute (small laptop, jumper, waterproof, lunch, camera) and I take it as carry-on on planes too. I’ve used it daily for months now and it’s still waterproof and in perfect condition so I’d say go for it! It looks so nice that you can take it anywhere and it’ll look smart.

  3. Fabio.
    February 10, 2014 / 2:16 pm

    Many thanks for your reply Sian! Very helpful. I think I will go for the large. The search narrows! Now is up to me on the subject of colour! . . . . : )

  4. sian
    Author
    February 10, 2014 / 2:38 pm

    well I love my green one, or my friend has a gorgeous cherry colour. I’d say to darker so it doesn’t look too dirty after muddy cycles 🙂

  5. Raybanfan
    March 22, 2014 / 4:03 pm

    Nice review and a gorgeous pack, i am having thoughts on the sizes as well. As far as i understand base on the specs from the manufacturer’s website, the large is taller sharing pretty much same width as the medium. Thus given your reply if u had a chance on buying it again you may go for the large? 52cm tall is quite tall.

  6. sian
    Author
    March 24, 2014 / 9:41 am

    Glad you liked the review! As before, I think the large is probably a good bet, as the rucksack is pretty flat and light when empty, so when you don’t need all the space it won’t feel too big on your bag. So yep I’d probably get a large one if I could only choose one size. Let me know what you go for!

  7. raybanfan
    March 26, 2014 / 4:05 pm

    Well well… this is such a stir having to witness your wonderful photos and to match a size as my daily carrier. I carry thick journals which is abit of hassel sometimes given the over an inch thickness in both A4 and A5. Between the situation to overpack a bag that is too small for the load to look like an overloaded schoolpack and to have extra breathing space with a larger pack. I think the large wins. The added details with the leather base does look nice although proportionally it looks a tad longish at first. I have read others online who too indicated the medium does limit the amount of goods being held. Last and not the least as most of my shoes are black and a myriad of browns, I have gone with the black and the brown accents that make absolute sense. Thanks.