Review: Fjallraven Kanken rucksack from Blackleaf

I doubt I have to introduce you to the coolest backback on the block – Fjallraven’s iconic Kanken design. I’ve been wanting one of these dinky-yet-durable rucksacks for ages, so I have been very happy reviewing this oxblood beauty from the Fjallraven Kanken rucksack range at Blackleaf (from £47.95). On Saturday it came to meet ponies in the New Forest with me.

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I do like gear with a bit of history behind it, don’t you? The Kanken was launched in Sweden in 1978 as a school-friendly backpack for little ones, and has simple design ethics at its core. Made of durable, lightweight Vinylon F material, Kankens soon gained a cult following in Sweden for their quality and practicality. And now I’ve got one, so you know they’re cool.

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Product description: “The retro classic Fjallraven Kanken Backpack has become a firm favourite here at This rucksack was first launched in 1978 and has been an ever present in the their range since. Made from super durable Vinylon F fabric, it is very tough and lightweight and features a large main compartment, carry handle, double side pockets, zipped front pocket, a sitting pad in the rear pocket and the fox logo is also a reflector. Now seen as a style icon, the Fjallraven Kanken Classic Backpack is used by fashionable folk looking for a great looking retro style backpack.”

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Sunday cycles: The Kanken is the perfect size for lazy afternoon adventures by bike. It’s small and light enough to sit high up on your back, but roomy enough to fit a waterproof, thermos and a spare inner tube or two. My favourite design element are the handy top handles – clip them together and you’ve got an easily portable tote, making the rucksack a cinch to transport. It’s good for nighttime riding too – you can clip a bike light onto the handles easily, and the rather adorable sleeping fox logo on the front is also a reflector. The only downer for bikers is that the Kanken’s thin straps can dig into your shoulders a bit if you’re carrying heavy gear. When I’m taking my hefty camera kit into work, I’ll take a bag with padded shoulder straps instead.

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Hiking in the New Forest: Ideal for all your Famous Five adventures, the Kanken’s waterproof outer will survive a heavy shower and keep all your precious possessions dry, plus it’s easy to wipe clean if things get a bit muddy. Or if it gets drooled on by inquisitive New Forest ponies. Handy pockets on the front, sides and inside are great for storing essentials (read: chocolate bars), and there’s even a seat pad included for your picnicking comfort. Oh, and it’ll look great when you Instagram all the healthy fun you’re having.

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Verdict: Light, waterproof and easier on the pocket than its bigger brothers and sisters, the Kanken Classic is also a bit of a Tardis, and will take a lot more kit than you might expect, making it perfect for day trips, sightseeing and little adventures. Plus, it’s just so CUTE. I’m a sucker for retro outdoorsy design, and I love the clean lines and bright primary colours of the Kanken. I’m not alone, either – this little square bag has become a huge hit with hipsters (just google ‘I Love My Kanken’).
If you’d rather carry something big enough for backpacking or long weekends, I’d pick a Fjallraven 21, or for cycling commuters with lots of tech, Blackleaf stock larger laptop-sized Kankens in a rainbow of colours.


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  1. Matt Dutton
    October 4, 2016 / 1:00 pm

    Hi Sian,
    I loved your review of the Numbers 21 rucksack, which I own in navy, and love. I mulled over one the traditional Kanken’s but worried about my stuff rattling around in one large compartment. Am I right in thinking you can purchase pads from Kanken for the straps.