Commuting to school can be very tiring, especially if you live far away, what with all the books and notebooks that you have to carry around all day. And if you ever opted for a shoulder bag instead of a backpack, then you also know just how painful it can be. But, backpacks will never go out of style, and I found two that are just perfect for school – the Kanken Mini and Classic.
Both of them are made by the Swedish manufacturer Fjallraven. If you know anything about the Swedish, then you already know that these two are going to be high quality and sturdy backpacks. But, is one better than the other? And what features exactly will you get with these pricey backpacks?
If you want to find out the answers, you will have to join me in this review of the Kanken Mini and Classic backpacks.
First, take a look at these two packs side by side, and then you can tell me what the main difference is:
Yeah, you guessed it – it’s their size.
For one thing, these aren’t backpacks that are equipped with a hundred different features so that their price tags could be sky-high. On the contrary, the Kanken backpack (both the Classic and the Mini) was developed with the sole purpose of helping school children reduce back pain.
How come? Well, the Kanken backpack was first launched in 1978, when shoulder bags were increasingly popular, which in turn caused a lot of school children to experience issues with back pain. So, this nifty little pack was developed, with a cool design and a padded back panel, which stops any objects from poking you in the back.
Accordingly, the Kanken Classic is sized to fit teens and adults, and the Mini is the perfect size for small children. But, the Mini can also be adjusted to perfectly fit an adult who just wants to have a cool tiny backpack. Or you know, feel like a giant.
And now we’ll check out the features that these packs do have, so sit back and enjoy the rest of the review.
There is a lot of color variety. I don’t dare say too much, but there is plenty. I guarantee that you will find either of these packs in your favorite color, and that’s always a bonus in my book.
Sturdy materials. The packs are made from lightweight material that is both water-resistant and dirt-resistant, which is particularly important if you are considering getting it for school use. And you know, kids get dirty much more than grown ups do, and cleaning these packs will be a piece of cake. But also if you are an adult, it’s good to know that your backpack and the stuff in it won’t be soaking wet if you get caught in the rain.
Spacious main compartment. Both backpacks have a zippered main compartment that is basically empty, apart from two things. One is the foam padding in the back pocket that keeps the packs flat and protects your back. The other thing is a name and address label, which is actually a pretty cool thing – especially for a school backpack. And the Kanken Classic can also fit most laptops into the main compartment, apart from the 17” ones.
Exterior pockets. There are two side pockets on the Kanken packs, and one zippered pocket on the front. The side pockets are great for any smaller items you want to keep handy, like pens or water bottles. On the other hand, the front pocket is large enough to fit your phone and wallet, but I honestly wouldn’t put anything so valuable in a compartment that everyone else can access very easily.
Multiple carrying options. So, you can carry the Kankens on your back, just like you can traditional backpacks. But, what makes these stand out is that you can also use the double carry straps, and carry it around like a purse. This will probably be more appealing to the female population that’s reading this, but nonetheless it’s a cool option.
The reflective logo. The Fjallraven logo on the front of the packs is reflective, and will definitely stand out in the dark. But other than that, it will also help others notice you in the night, which is helpful if you tend to commute home at that time. And especially if you often ride a bike!
Lack of interior compartments. Honestly, this would have been an awesome pack for school, if only it had at least one internal pocket. I always used those, and I usually kept my phone in them, as I never felt comfortable putting my valuables in an exterior pocket and then getting on a bus. In addition to that, maybe if there was a panel in the middle of the main compartment, it would really help with organization of your books and notebooks. And yes, you could take out the foam padding and use that pocket as a separate compartment, but then you would have to sacrifice the comfort of the pack, and I don’t think that it’s worth it.
The price tag. It’s undeniable that this is a really cool pack, but it is nowhere near cheap. And I am not really sure that its minimalistic design justifies the price tag. After all, we did recently see that you can get even huge Teton Sports hiking backpacks for less money than a Kanken Mini, which doesn’t make too much sense. However, they are significantly cheaper on Amazon than they are on the manufacturer’s site, so definitely check them out there.
Well, since these two packs have all the same features, I guess the main thing that you should ask yourself (if you are an adult) is do you want a normal-sized backpack or a tiny one?
Both packs will perform just fine, but you will obviously be able to fit more things in the Classic backpack. So, if you are an adult or a teenager, I would advise you to get the Kanken Classic.
On the other hand, if you are shopping for a small child, then the Kanken Mini is the perfect choice for them. It will fit them perfectly, and even when they grow up they will have a cool tiny backpack to carry around.
Ultimately it is your decision. Maybe you don’t even like these backpacks; in that case, I suggest that you check out some these anti-theft backpacks. They are another great alternative for school, and some of them are much cheaper than these Kankens.
But if you do like them, then head over to Amazon. As always, they are on sale there, and you can get a great deal!
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!