I came across the Fjällräven Kånken for the first time in a Yelp review of a local San Diego luggage store. The reviewer was delighted that this store carried Kånken backpacks, a product she came across in Europe, because no other stores in the area did. Indeed, 2 years ago I’d venture to guess that very few people had heard of the Swedish brand. Today, I come across a Fjällräven Kånken backpack nearly every time I step out of the house (there’s always a sighting at a farmer’s market). Fjällräven has taken off in the U.S. and that popularity is largely due to the company’s iconic backpack, the Kånken.
Introduced in 1978, the Fjällräven Kånken backpack was designed for Swedish school children. Today, the Kånken can be found on the backs of kids and adults alike. It has a back-friendly strap system, it’s made out of a hard-wearing fabric, and what I believe really makes the Kånken appealing, it has a simple and clean design that’s available in 55 colors (and counting) across 16 different styles.
We got our hands on five Kånkens to sample some of the options that are available.
In this post, we take a look at the Fjällräven Kånken Laptop 15″ Backpack. As is customary for Tekuben, we made a video that you can watch below or on our YouTube channel Tekuben Prime:
We make these videos to give you a closer look at bags you may be interested in. It is our intention to help you make a purchase decision. If we missed anything in the video or in this review that you’d like to know, please feel free to ask and we’ll do our best to get you an answer. Tekuben is a labor of love. We are independently owned and operated. We do not receive merchandise to keep or payments from manufacturers. Our work is for and supported by you through your viewership. In order to keep the site sustainable, we are Amazon Affiliates and as such, we earn commission when you purchase any product after clicking on a link that takes you to Amazon. We also have advertising units that we hope enhances your experience on our site (just the other day I learned about a new backpack brand through an ad). We are proud to not have any pop-up ads because we feel it disrupts the experience. We are also proud of keeping our website junk-free by not using Outbrain or Taboola. Ultimately, our goal is to become the best online source of luggage and travel commentary. We’re just getting started and we’re excited that you’re here to help shape our future.
Check out all of our Fjällräven Kånken videos:
What makes a Kånken a Kånken
Fjällräven offers a dizzying array of Kånkens to choose. The Kånken catalog spans across size, color and price. The one constant relating them all is the clean and practical design that evokes simpler times. Kånkens are functional, durable, no fuss backpacks. Regardless of their size and color, Kånkens are defined by these characteristics:
- Small pocket in the lower front, right below the Arctic Fox logo
- One handle on the front parrallel to one handle on the back
- U-line zipper track offering a wide opening into one spacious compartment for your belongings
- Two inelastic side pockets.
- Reinforced stitching at the ends of the zipper track to ensure long-lasting durability
- X-mount strap system to better distribute weight across the back
- An interior sleeve that holds a “seat cushion” (read: thin foam pad that can be mistaken as packaging material you would trash)
- Use of the company’s durable, water resistant Vinylon F fabric
To help you navigate through all of the choices when shopping for a Kånken, we’ve created a buyer’s guide that shows all Kånken style-color combinations. Check it out!
A Kånken for laptops
To meet the requirements of the computer-dependent student, Fjällräven modified the original Kånken and created the Kånken 15″ Laptop backpack. This variant maintains all of the characteristics of a Kånken while improving its usability. What’s the difference between the Kånken 15″ Laptop and the regular Kånken?
- A padded zippered compartment dedicated to holding your 15″ (or smaller) laptop/tablet.
- Padded shoulder straps
- Slightly bigger main compartment.
A commendable laptop-toting backpack needs to accomplish at least two things: protect the laptop and make it comfortable for the user to wear the backpack with the added weight of the laptop.
Fjällräven’s approach to making this backpack is simple and refreshing. What did they do? Take the original Kånken backpack, sew on a padded zipper compartment to protect the laptop and sew on padding to the shoulder straps to protect the traveler. Simple, effective, no fuss.
We like it.
If you want a Kånken for school, we think you’ll like it too.
Even with the additional laptop compartment, the Kånken 15″ Laptop maintains the original Kånken’s aesthetics and charm. If you’re drawn to the Kånken, this version made for laptops has everything you’re attracted to and more.
All about comfort
After the initial excitement of getting a new product wears off, the reality of using the product on a regular basis sets in. Yes, it looks great. Yes, the color is YOU! On a day-to-day basis though, how the backpack looks pales in importance to how comfortable it is. And the Fjällräven Kånken Laptop backpack is all about comfort.
Comfortable to wear. Comfort in knowing that your laptop is in an easy to access, padded compartment.
While the x-mounted strap system works on all Kånken backpacks to distribute weight across the shoulders, Fjällräven added padding to the straps in anticipation of the extra weight of a laptop. Literally – they took two strips of padded fabric and sewed it on to the standard Kånken straps.
We found the wider, padded shoulder straps to be a lot more comfortable than the standard straps. While the standard straps can feel like it’s cutting into the shoulders, the Laptop Kånken’s straps are well cushioned.
Knowing that the standard straps aren’t as comfortable as they can be, Fjällräven offers shoulder pads as an add-on for the regular Kånken and even the Kånken Mini. However, the colors available are limited. If you want a Kånken Classic or Kånken Mini and don’t mind mixing colors, we recommend that you get the shoulder pads. It appears they’re popular because they always seem to be out of stock whenever we look.
So you want to carry your laptop
Will it fit in the Kånken? Our 15-inch Lenovo P50 didn’t, so if you have a similarly sized workstation-class laptop, it won’t fit. Any thinner 15-inch or smaller consumer laptop like our 13-inch Macbook? We’d venture to say it will fit.
Check out this video we made of us trying to fit our laptop into the backpack so you get a better idea:
What we like about the Fjällräven Kånken 15″ Laptop backpack:
- Padded shoulder straps. It’s hard to switch back to the Kånken Classic or Kånken Mini straps after wearing the Kånken Laptop around.
- Dedicated laptop compartment. It’s a lot more convenient to use this than the Kånken Classic to carry our laptop.
- Durability. Our initial impressions of the bag’s durability are positive. We appreciate the extra stitching at specific points of the bag (such as at the ends of the main compartment’s zipper track).
- Looks. Even at this size, the Kånken 15″ Laptop backpack looks good, dare I say cute.
What we don’t like about the Fjällräven Kånken 15″ Laptop backpack:
- Vinylon-F fabric. Expect the backpack to feel stiff in the first week or so. The Vinylon fabric will break in over time but by then you’ll notice that it picks up dirt rather easily. The good thing is that it’s pretty easy to clean. Just use a damp towel.
- The side pockets. They’re inelastic, which means if the main compartment is stuffed, there’s no room for the pockets. We’ve heard people place phones and small umbrellas in them.
- Seat cushion. You’ll find a thin piece of foam in the interior sleeve of the main compartment. Fjällräven says it’s a seat cushion. We thought it was packaging material. Your call.
Should you buy a Fjällräven Kanken 15″ Laptop backpack?
If you’re set on getting a Kånken and can’t decide between a Classic, Mini or Laptop, we’d recommend the Laptop backpack. Even if you don’t plan on carrying a laptop, we think the additional compartment is valuable and can be used to carry a tablet, e-reader or paper documents you want to keep flat and easily accessible. As much as we like the cavernous main compartment, it’s nice to have a dedicated vertically-oriented pocket.
The Fjällräven Kånken 15″ Laptop backpack has a MSRP of $110 USD as of January 2017. That’s a premium price for a backpack.
What are you paying for? Style and durability.
The appeal of durability is universal and we believe the Kånken delivers (one of our video commentator’s Dad has a Kånken from the 1980’s that’s still in good shape).
Style on the other hand, is subjective. If you’re attracted to the Kånken design, the question is which color? If you’re on the fence, save the money. As for us? Happy to be using it.
If you are interested in this backpack, shop for it on Amazon with this link. Any purchase made will go towards supporting our work here at Tekuben. Thanks for your support!
Not sure which Kånken to get? Check out our comparison videos below or use our buyer’s guide:
|Model:||Kånken 15″ Laptop|
|Tekuben Target Price:||$80 USD|
|Size (U.S)||15.8 in x 11 in x 6.3 in|
|Size (Metric)||40 cm x 28 cm x 16 cm|
|Weight (U.S.)||1.01 lbs.|
|Weight (Metric)||0.46 kg|
Rating (relative to other bags in its class)
Go to school? Want a Kanken? The Kanken Laptop is your best bet.