It’s almost been a year since I bought my Fjallraven Mini Kanken while visiting Canada. That trip was so fun; I can’t believe it’ll already be a year ago in July. Since I’ve had my Kanken Mini for a year, I thought I’d do a follow up review on the bag, how it’s holding up, and if it’s worth it to buy.
Fjallraven is a Swedish brand that has been making high quality and durable outdoor products for over 50 years. They know what they are doing. And they speak to me and people like me in their values and design. Even with those rose tinted spectacles I am always honest, and thankfully on this occasion the product met with the expectations I had placed upon it.
If you haven’t noticed, Fjallraven has exploded into a globally recognized brand within the last couple of years. We saw these bags popping up in many places we’ve visited, in tons of airports, and even received notes from our friends about the popularity of the Fjallraven Kanken Mini.
The Fjallraven Kanken Mini is small enough to pack in a larger bag or use for a carry-on “personal” item (while still being polite to your seatmate’s overhead bin space). If you’re already traveling with a backpack, the top handles are key. It allows for extreme versatility in many situations. You can easily rock this as a backpack while wandering the lantern-lit streets of Hoi An, but then slip your arm through the top handle to sort out some cash as you make your way through the market. We found it to be important to keep the handles clasped, as they tend to stick out and intercept passersby when wandering heavily populated areas.
It certainly is a great looking pack. And one that has been very well made. The squared edges and solid construction provide a bag that will last for years. The stitching is well finished, the material thick and durable, and the zip works perfectly well. Despite being the “baby brother” to the classic Kanken, the Mini is given the same attention to detail you should expect, including press stud fastenings to keep the top loops and shoulder straps tidy, and a reflective logo to keep you visible. Oh and it comes with a foam pad in the back of the pack that makes an ideal sitter when you want to have a cup of tea to take in the view.
Immediately on unpacking, we recognized how stiff this Fjallraven Kanken Mini was—from the handles to the fabric and the support along your back. Initially, this seemed like a frustration as the bag holds mega style value. In retrospect, the rigidity allows the bag to hold its shape and evenly distribute its weight no matter what you cram inside. In our case, the bag sometimes housed just a wallet and a small book, but other times we’d have a DSLR, power bank, art supplies, cell phone and a handful of funky souvenir items. Regardless of the contents, the bag remained in its perfect, square-like shape. An inside pocket holds a firm foam board, which Fjallraven designed to be a seat pad. We’ve found that it can double as extra support for the back and protection from heavy cargo bouncing against the wearer.
The Fjallraven Kanken Mini features four pockets for a variety of needs. The interior pocket served as an exceptional place to store a passport or any important paperwork, receipts, or visa documents. We take safety and security pretty seriously when wandering abroad, and this interior pocket would be nearly impossible to access unless someone was able to snatch the bag off your back.
On the exterior, along each side, there are two slim pockets with no closure. We used these minimally but did find them useful for a cheap pair of sunglasses or easy access to some cough drops.
Lastly, the fourth pocket is a small zippered pouch in the front. A classic backpack feature, this pocket is small and perfect for train tickets, knick-knacks, chapstick—you get the idea. We were pleasantly surprised by the solid variety of storage and organization within the bag—simple but effective!
We mentioned one of the security points on the Fjallraven Kanken Mini already, but one feature we have really come to appreciate are the zippers, and specifically the liners that cover them. Every edge of the main zipper has a lip covering it, which is stiff and snug—meaning you really have to get a grip on the bag to even expose the zipper pull, let alone open the compartments. A huge win if you find yourself getting nervous about people tampering with your stuff in a crowded or unfamiliar space. It’s not a bulletproof solution, but a nice addition nonetheless.
While Fjallraven offers a whole line of backpacks, the Fjallraven Kanken Mini is clearly the most suited for daily use.