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Fjallraven Kanken 15" Review

A popular laptop backpack that is simple and stylish
Fjallraven Kanken 15"
Photo: Fjallraven
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Price:  $120 List | Check Price at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Small, cute, lightweight, easy loading, durable
Cons:  Need to always button and unbutton top strap, expensive, lacks organizational features
Manufacturer:   Fjallraven
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Mar 5, 2020
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58
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 10
  • Laptop Protection - 25% 6
  • Comfort - 20% 5
  • Storage - 15% 5
  • Ease of Use - 15% 7
  • Water Resistance - 15% 4
  • Style - 10% 9

Our Verdict

The super-popular Fjallraven Kanken 15" laptop backpack is cute, petite, and hip. Its boxy construction sits high on your back, offering nice comfort when it's not fully loaded. It features a minimally structured, lightweight design (<1lb) and a separate laptop pocket for easy access and protection. It advertises to hold a 15-inch laptop, but the pocket is tight. If your laptop is thicker, it might not fit. While the construction and durability are pretty bomber, its 18L volume is limiting. The simple design has very little organizational opportunity but is easy to use. If you're in love with the style of this backpack or want something cute and simple, it's a good option to consider.

Knock-off Backpacks
Knock-offs happen and with this popular bag, it's not uncommon. When you purchase yours online, be sure you've got the real thing. We did!

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Fjallraven Kanken 15"
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$60.00 at AmazonCheck Price at REI
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Pros Small, cute, lightweight, easy loading, durableFunctional, plentiful storage, water-resistant fabric, inexpensive, versatileGood price, holds lots of books and binders, easy to useCollapsible, unique design, three ways to carry, functional storage, lightweightInexpensive, great organization, professional profile and style, easy to use
Cons Need to always button and unbutton top strap, expensive, lacks organizational featuresNot super stylishUncomfortable when weighted down, poor protection, questionable craftsmanshipLacks protection, water resistance is lacking, not good for heavy loadsPoor water bottle holder, no battery pack with charging station, questionable quality
Bottom Line A popular laptop backpack that is simple and stylishThis spacious backpack offers functionality and value that is unmatchedA classic model built for students who carry a lot of booksA collapsible and unique option with ideal features to accommodate wanderlustA feature-laden option that does the trick for a super low price
Rating Categories Fjallraven Kanken 15" The North Face Bore... Jansport Right Pack Cotopaxi Tasra 16L Tzowla Travel
Laptop Protection (25%)
6.0
7.0
3.0
3.0
4.0
Comfort (20%)
5.0
8.0
5.0
7.0
7.0
Storage (15%)
5.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
5.0
Ease Of Use (15%)
7.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
8.0
Water Resistance (15%)
4.0
7.0
6.0
3.0
3.0
Style (10%)
9.0
6.0
5.0
9.0
6.0
Specs Fjallraven Kanken 15" The North Face Bore... Jansport Right Pack Cotopaxi Tasra 16L Tzowla Travel
Volume (L) 18 L 28 L 31 L 16 L n/a
Weight 1.0 lbs 2.7 lbs 1.3 lbs 1.0 lb 1.8 lbs
Number of Compartments 2 2 3 4 2
Dimensions 14 x 10.2 x 1.3 in 19.75 x 13.5 x 8.5 in. 18 x 13 x 8.5 in. 17 x 10.5 x 5.5 in. 19.29 x11.8 x 5.43 in.
Number of Large Pockets 1 2 1 2 1
Number of Small Pockets 3 9 2 2 5
Key Clip? No No Yes Yes Yes
Reflective Material? No Yes No No No
External Side Pocket(s) No Yes No No No
External Water Bottle Holder? No Yes No No No
Fits Laptop 15" 15" 17" 15" 15"
Hip belt No Yes No Yes No
Sternum Strap No Yes No Yes No

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Fjallraven Kanken is built for students, travelers, and office goers. It has a two carry system, either as a purse or a backpack. As one of the more popular brands and backpacks out there, it's a stylish option that is a little limited in storage and features. It is, however, durable enough to handle daily rigors for the long haul.

Performance Comparison


We check out botanical gardens on a rest day from climbing while in...
We check out botanical gardens on a rest day from climbing while in Cuba. We took this backpack because of its lightweight, cute look, and protective features.
Photo: Edward Kemper

Laptop Protection


We appreciate the level of protection this backpack offers for its small package. It features a separate laptop pocket that is padded on all four sides, through the front and back. While the padding adds a small buffer, the padding isn't so robust as to protect against all shocks and bumps. Overall, the protection is reliable, but it's far from the best.

The separate pocket has good padding all the way around, offering...
The separate pocket has good padding all the way around, offering decent protection for your laptop. Here we test it with a 13-inch MacBook Air.
Photo: Amber King

Comfort


This cute laptop backpack is comfortable when it's not completely loaded. It's super lightweight (less than a pound) and sits high on the upper back. While the backpack straps are thin with high-density foam, they are narrow. They are also attached quite close together at the top of the pack, which makes it uncomfortable to wear for users that are taller or have much broader shoulders.

The straps are thin and the bag pulls back when weighted down. This...
The straps are thin and the bag pulls back when weighted down. This was the most unfortunate discovery. When it's not super full, it's quite comfortable.
Photo: Eddie Kemper

When we loaded this backpack with books, binders, art supplies, and our laptop, we noticed it pulling backward, with some added pressure at the top of the strap. In most use cases, this backpack was quite comfortable to wear for the day, except when stacked with heavy items. It also has no sternum strap or waist belt.

We love its low weight. Great for traveling and all-day wear with...
We love its low weight. Great for traveling and all-day wear with smaller loads.
Photo: Amber King

We appreciate the carry-strap that made this backpack super easy to carry through security at the airport. This adds comfort and functionality that is not comparable to other backpacks, also making it a good option for travel. Overall, we love the lightweight and small profile of this cute backpack. It's just meant more for looks than hauling a full load.

We love the optional purse carry that makes this backpack more...
We love the optional purse carry that makes this backpack more versatile than others.
Photo: Eddie Kemper

Storage


The box-like construction of this backpack makes it easy to pile in a few textbooks, notebooks, as well as your laptop. When stacking it all together, it maxed out at two binders and two textbooks, which is great for most students. However, if you're somebody who carries more with you, you might find the 18L storage to be a bit limiting.

Here we fit two binders and textbooks inside the boxy design. It can...
Here we fit two binders and textbooks inside the boxy design. It can hold a surprising amount but lacks organizational features.
Photo: Amber King

The laptop compartment easily fits a 13-inch laptop with ease. A thin 15-inch laptop, however, just barely gets inside. If you have a thicker HP or Dell laptop that is 15-inches, there's a good chance it (sadly) won't fit inside. When we traveled with this backpack, we typically put our 13-inch MacBook Air with the power cord all together in the one separate laptop pocket.

Here we use a 15-inch laptop sleeve to show its relative size inside...
Here we use a 15-inch laptop sleeve to show its relative size inside the backpack. We appreciate that this will fit, however, we've read several reviews that state very thick 15-inch laptops won't fit inside the pocket.
Photo: Amber King

The main compartment also has a small sleeve that you put papers, notebooks, folders, or other items you want to keep secure. This backpack doesn't have much in the way of organization, which makes it quite simple. The pocket in the very front easily functions as a pencil case or a place to store your phone or keys.

A look at the front pocket for loose items. Besides this, there are...
A look at the front pocket for loose items. Besides this, there are no other smaller zippered pockets.
Photo: Amber King

The backpack also hosts two exterior pockets that, we think, are supposed to be for water bottles. Unfortunately, when loaded, these become useless. We hardly used these pockets, except to store some random items like a paintbrush, phone, or pens.

Our narrow water bottle does not fit when this thing is fully...
Our narrow water bottle does not fit when this thing is fully loaded. Even when we stuff it inside, it was very hard to get out.
Photo: Amber King

Ease of Use


This backpack is relatively easy to use but harder to get into than most. This backpack has two carry options.

This was a perfect size as a carry-on! The top strap made it easy to...
This was a perfect size as a carry-on! The top strap made it easy to carry in a plane and grab when we wanted to get art supplies out on the plane.
Photo: Edward Kemper

You can wear it on your back, or carry it like a purse. In both cases, it has two large carry loops on the top of the back that need to be buttoned together. While the button isn't hard to undo and do back up again, it is a pain to have to deal with that, then unzip the compartment to get inside. When worn as a backpack, if it's not done up, the pack loses some of its structure. The contents inside pull back more on the backpack, and it looks sloppy, so you're compelled to button up the hatch.

The zippers are large and easy to use. They are also YKK brand and...
The zippers are large and easy to use. They are also YKK brand and quite durable. No issues with snags.
Photo: Amber King

The zippers are large and easy to pull and didn't get caught during our use period with them. We only wish this had a few more pockets sewn in for organizational purposes. Other than that, it's a pretty simple pack to use day-to-day.

Unfortunately, you need to button and unbutton the top handle every...
Unfortunately, you need to button and unbutton the top handle every time you use the backpack. This got annoying, especially when we needed to get in and out quickly.
Photo: Eddie Kemper

Water Resistance


This backpack isn't waterproof but offers some water-resistant properties. The durable nylon exterior beads up water, but after a big downpour or after sitting in a puddle, it'll soak through. We like the housed zippers that offer a little more water protection as well.

Taking the brunt of our shower tests. We put it under the water for...
Taking the brunt of our shower tests. We put it under the water for five minutes.
Photo: Amber King

During our water tests, we put this backpack under the nozzle of our shower head, spraying it down for 5 minutes. The main compartment came out with some dampness inside, while the front pocket was quite literally a puddle. The laptop compartment, however, had no water inside but was a little humid from the warm water showering down on it. While we wouldn't recommend it for chilling in a rainstorm, it'll keep your laptop protected while you rush to seek shelter.

Style


Popular and super cute! It can seem these days that everyone wants a Fjallraven Kanken. When traveling to Cuba, we noticed that this was a very popular choice of travel backpack amongst tourists. It comes in a plethora of colors and is suited for anybody to use. It does have a childish air to it, but our 30-something female tester managed to pull it off. This probably isn't the laptop backpack you're going to buy if you want to look professional and formal, but it's a great option for those seeking a more casual, cute, and petite look to don on the streets.

Cute colors and quite stylish. Not the bag we&#039;d bring to a formal...
Cute colors and quite stylish. Not the bag we'd bring to a formal affair, but it's at home on campus, at school, or around town.
Photo: Eddie Kemper

Value


We scoured the internet to find a bad review that relates specifically to durability, simply because we didn't notice any issues with our backpack. The result was just a couple with what seemed like heavy-use cases. That said, all reviews are pretty great. The material seems to be durable and well-crafted. Our only concern is really how thin the nylon is, which could (maybe??) under heavyweight, tear the fabric.

While this backpack might be expensive, it sure is cute. There are...
While this backpack might be expensive, it sure is cute. There are plenty of less expensive choices out there, but the durability and quality is highly ranked.
Photo: Eddie Kemper

Aside from that, our experience and online use cases seem to consistently say that this is indeed a well constructed and well-crafted product. For the functionality, we'd argue that the price is quite high. It's pretty simple, with no bells or whistles, with protection being fine but not great. There are better options out there that present greater value. When you buy this bag, you're buying the brand. If you're stoked on its style, and you want one, then go for it. However, there are better-priced options out there with better performance overall.

Take this super cute bag with you! Whether you&#039;re traveling, heading...
Take this super cute bag with you! Whether you're traveling, heading to class, or going to work. It's cute, popular, and comes in a plethora of colors. Here we do laps around the airport while waiting for our flight to Cuba.
Photo: Edward Kemper

Conclusion


The Fjallraven Kanken 15" is a popular and petite laptop backpack that can also be carried like a purse. It's a favorite amongst many fashion-forward folks for its lightweight style, fantastic durability, and decent storage. While its volume is small and the features are limited, we can appreciate the simplicity of its design and the protection it offers with its separate laptop pocket. Know it'll only fit a thinner 15-inch laptop.

Amber King