Before I get into my review of Kanken Mini backpack, I want to quickly share with you 3 facts that stood out for me as I did a bit of research about this company prior to buying the backpacks.
The fox isn’t just for the logo.
Fjällräven actually means arctic fox in Swedish. Sadly, these beautiful animals are at the brink of extinction as a result of fur industry and now climate change. Fjällräven is involved in Arctic Fox recovery program in Sweden through co-funding as well as supplying field equipment. I think that is just amazing!
Keeping plastic bottles out of the oceans
The Re-Kanken backpacks are made from 11 used plastic bottles each, with lesser use of water and energy in the production process as well!
On-going research into sustainability practices
The company has a comprehensive set of sustainability values and appears to do an on-going research in this area to keep on improving its operations so it leaves lesser and lesser impact on our planet.
Ok, now that I shared these cool facts with you, here comes my review. 🙂
This Spring as boys were turning 3 and 5 years old I wanted to get them new backpacks. Their old backpacks made by my mom from some upcycled old garments were adorable and very loved by both of them, but they outgrew them. And as we didn’t have any old fabric or garments around which were suitable for new backpack sewing I decided to go ahead and buy them their new backpacks.
I was hoping to find kids backpacks made of canvas, with no synthetic materials. I didn’t find anything of that sort in children’s size (not to say it isn’t somewhere out there), but I quickly discovered Fjallraven brand and was impressed with their sustainability values. I now discovered that it is apparently a very trendy brand as well and if you want to get likes on Instagram just wear a Kanken backpack :))) . But the reason why I chose these backpacks for the boys is because of the company’s sustainability values, great craftsmanship, functionality and perfect size for young children.
Great kids backpack
This backpack is great for young children in its size and construction. The quality is superb with great attention to detail. Both boys love using them and are overall very happy with the purchase. That being said there are a couple things I’d like to be different. So here are the pros and a couple of cons from our experience.
What we love
- Kanken Mini backpack is great size for children. Eleon has just turned 3 and Alexandros is 5. They are both taller than average kiddos of their age. You can see in the photos how perfect the backpack’s size is for them.
- Lightweight (340 g according to Fjallraven website)
- The zipper opens the front panel almost fully, making it very easy to see what’s inside and get what’s needed. This was a big appeal to me, as many backpacks have a zipper opening them at the top half, making finding something at the bottom to be not so easy. Because the Fjallraeven Kanken design opens the front panel almost fully, it is easy to put books, clothes and other objects there and then easy to find what is needed later.
- It has a removable foam insert for the back panel. Could be also used as a seat pad.
- Good front pocket for storing forest finds, such as rocks and sticks.
- Adjustable straps
- Good handles at the top
What we’d like to be different
- The side pockets are too small for a water bottle. To be perfectly honest, I’m not entirely sure what they were designed for, because they offer no volume. But we’ve been successfully using them to store sticks and little shovels. Having a water bottle handy would be a great improvement though.
- I would probably like to have the inside compartmented into 2 large parts, may be with another panel with a zipper. Just so we could keep our nature journals, a book or a set of clean backup clothes separated from the other things boys throw in the pack. As an adult I solve it by putting those types of things in a separate pouch, but of course young boys would never bother with that on their own 🙂
Note on straps
I was concerned if having no padding on straps would be an issue. So far it has not caused boys discomfort, but they also don’t carry anything very heavy in their backpacks yet. However, I was happy to learn that Fjallraven also sells shoulder pads for the Kanken Minis, although the color selection is limited.
In summary, neither of these issues is a deal breaker, as there are many more advantages to these backpacks. And environmental aspect is a considerable factor in favor of Re-Kanen model specifically and this brand as a whole. But in case FJALLRAVEN ever visits my blog I’d love them to have this feedback 🙂
Made from 11 plastic bottles
These Fjallraven backpacks had my heart the moment I read that they are made entirely from recycled plastic bottles. If you’ve read few post on my blog or follow me on Instagram you probably have seen the images of the devastating effects of plastic pollution on our planet. The idea of having old plastic bottles, which otherwise would be trashing our beaches and oceans, turned into something usable and beautiful still seems like a miracle to me, although I understand it is simply plastic getting recycled 🙂
More about Fjallraven
The Sustainability page on Fjallraven own website has a lot of great information on sustainability of their products and their environmental values. To sum it up here are few aspects of their business that impressed me very much:
It never occurred to me before that even the cut and design of an item could have an impact, by either using the fabric to its most or having large pieces wasted. On the commercial scale this really adds up.
Navigating the world of toxic chemicals
It was great to see that Fjallraven is aware and takes into consideration that many of the chemicals commonly used in textiles and especially in outdoor gear are toxic to both humans and environment. If this topic is new to you I have some more information in the Organic clothing: Why it matters blog post.
“These chemical compounds don’t readily break down in nature. They can be transported vast distances, stored in living organisms and even work their way up the food chain. They can also affect reproduction and hormone production in mammals and are suspected carcinogens.” [excerpt form Fjallraven website]
Fjallraven makes an effort to compensate their production emissions by supporting renewable energy projects that have been verified by the UN. They also strive to become carbon neutral by 2025.
No live plucking when it comes to down, no mulling when it comes to wool. Animal products are fully traceable and ethically-sourced.
Arctic fox recovery program
Fjallraven is also involved in the Arctic Fox recovery program, which means so much to me as well as to my children.
Buying new vs. second-hand
In conclusion, I wanted to say that I highly recommend these backpacks. However, if you do find a used one and it is the original Kanken mini, and not the Re-Kanken backpack — remember that in most cases getting secondhand items is the most sustainable option as it didn’t require any new use of planet’s resources. That being said, buying the new items from a sustainable business also supports their operations allowing them to continue on their mission.
Our day in the mountains
And in closing I wanted to share with you a few more photos from this day in the mountains when I took all these pictures. It has been a dry Spring here in the Rockies and we were saddened to not see all the wild flowers we were so much looking forward to. But nature still has that magical healing touch to our souls and makes us all feel more complete.
And as parents we get an additional dimension of joy when we are out in nature, it comes from observing the children play and explore. The endless play possibilities, brave explorations and happy faces full of ideas. Nature is truly where children belong.