When I first started seeing the bright colors and unique logo of the Fjällräven backpacks around Los Angeles, I felt a spark of familiarity. After a bit of research, I learned that the brand’s headquarters is in Boulder, Colorado, about an hour from my hometown in the Rocky Mountains. No wonder I felt such a special connection to these backpacks. After further research, the WOMN team realized that Fjällräven’s (fee-ya’ll-raven) heritage dates back to the 1960’s, with timeless styles still relevant in today’s vast market. We decided to test these backpacks ourselves, venturing into the forests of Southern California.
Fjällräven is a Swedish word that means “arctic fox”, a small but easily adaptable animal native to the mountains of Scandinavia. The fox is a perfect symbol for Fjällräven’s adventure pack, the Kanken. Developed in 1978, the Kanken was designed to prevent back problems among Swedish children. Its streamlined style has remained virtually the same throughout the years, serving as a super comfortable and lightweight day pack.
Growing up in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, I have always had a love for hiking. Often, I wished for a cute, comfortable backpack that would fit my small frame, but still accommodate all the necessities. I was excited to try Fjällräven’s most beloved pack, the Kanken. When I received it, my first thought was that I could pass it down to my child someday for school.
Backpacks have long been a symbol of heritage, sparking childhood memories and inspiring adult adventures. The backpack we used every day for school may have been passed down from our grandparent, parent, big sister or brother. We often remember our backpacks from those years. As adults, they are still a relevant carrier for the gear that fuels our adventures.
When my boyfriend and I started out on our first hiking adventure, we took my royal blue Kanken, along with his green Rucksack No.21 pack. We were not planning on hiking any huge mountains or going on a whole day’s hike. All we needed were small, comfortable packs that could carry our lunch and an extra layer of clothing. During our hike, we were able to keep the backpacks on while chopping and gathering firewood. It didn’t feel like we were wearing anything that made this task more laborious, even though the packs were filled to capacity.
Fjällräven has focused on keeping its history and heritage, consistently delivering fabrics that are sustainable and withstand the test of time. Their aim is to create outdoor clothing and accessories that can be used for years to come, and passed down through generations. “Every detail must have the same lifespan and durability as everything else in the garment,” states one of the brand’s lead designers, Thomas Hakansson.
Throughout the remainder of our weekend, our backpacks sat on lake shores with us, and accompanied us on stand-up paddle boards. They walked with us around the campground, carrying a bottle of wine as we sought the perfect spot to watch the sunset. They were with us when we found a secret trail that led to a secluded lake in the mountains. These backpacks now have memories attached to them that we will carry – no pun intended – with us for years to come.
Story by Courtney Jay Biebl
Edited by Beth Caster
Photos by Courtney Jay Biebl and Cole Higgins