kanken laptop backpack - full of space

Review: Kanken Laptop Backpack

kanken laptop backpack - full of space

Or How Much Weight Can My Fjallraven Kanken 17’ Laptop Backpack Carry?

The Kanken backpack
The Kanken backpack

The new, bigger Kanken has arrived. After careful colour consideration, I went for the classic black and proceeded to put it to vigorous tests.

Dutifully to its name, the 17″ Laptop bag has a big pocket at the back for a laptop. My laptop is a 17-inch (the maximum size it can fit) and it fits perfectly, not being too loose and leaving room for the power cord, as well. The extra padding really gives the protection that I wished for, mostly for my long train rides and packed tube commuting when there is a high likelihood of dings and bumps. Perfect! Now all I need to worry about is trying not to whack the fellow passengers with, what is admittedly, quite a sizeable bag.

There is a big main pocket and a little zipped pocket in the front where you can store your keys, oysters and bits and bobs. The zippers are study and quite loud so if anyone was trying to open the small pocket even in a loud place you’d be very likely to hear it, which for a Londoner is a plus!

So, after purchasing my long coveted Kanken, I’ve had some brilliant moments with it! I was caught in an absolutely drenching downpour without an umbrella with my laptop in my bag and obviously my biggest worry was the safety of my laptop. It was completely safe! There was no dampness inside the bag! What a relief!

Only thing that I have to remember to do, is to pull the zip covers over the zips when it rains because the only part of the bag that isn’t fully waterproof are the zips, unfortunately.

There is also a good size side-pocket on the side of the bag, which can fit a fairly slim water bottle or even better an umbrella!

The Laptop Back bags are the only Kankens that have padded shoulder straps to make carrying heavier things like books and a laptop quite comfortable. Thus, the next thing I put to test was the durability of the straps: I managed to stuff the bag full of heavy books – about 35 kg (*see note below!) – and carried it home from the library with minimal discomfort!

So all in all, I have been very happy in my Fjallraven Kanken, it is now my everyday bag and I can recommend it for anyone who needs a reliable and sturdy bag! I have no doubt that it will last for years to come! If you have a smaller laptop they also come in 15’ size and the Classic Kanken and even a Kanken Mini and if you’re planning to carry heavy stuff in the smaller bags there is also padding for the shoulder straps available to buy separately to maximise the comfort.

* Weight alert – Armi orginally claimed 35 kilos but this was the source of much debate around the office. She was never able to bring a fully-laden bag in to verify this claim and it has been widely disputed. A figure of more like 20 kilos has been our agreed revised figure based on contents Armi has brought in since. If you have ever tried to carry 20 kilos in a backpack you will know this is not an insignificant weight to haul around!

essential summer top 10 stationery items

Top 10 Essential Stationery Items For The Summer

From Bureau exclusives to great offers, from exotic imports to reinvented cult classics, even something not really stationery at all.


Rhodia Heritage Notebooks

Rhodia Heritage notebooks

A brand new range of books that harks back to older ways of making things. We especially love the Raw Binding notebooks with their spine that has a…well, a raw feel to it. Sturdy, with the classic Rhodia 90gsm paper. One of the beauties of this binding is that it lies flat no matter where in the book you are.

Why you need this item:

It’s a notebook but so much more. Retro styling has been used for a great purpose meaning this notebook will last the course, can handle all the ink you throw at it and it will be a pleasure to use each time you get it out. What’s not to love?


Field Notes Campfire Edition Notebooks

Field Notes Campfire notebooks

Field Notes produce four limited editions a year, one for each season. The summer edition this year is the Campfire edition and it’s one of their best in a longtime. A set of 3 books, each with a different stage of campfire print on the cover (from dusk to night to dawn), plus a ‘campfire master’ sew-on patch. Release your inner scout.

Why you need this item:

A set of rugged little notebooks that you can sling in your bag or your pocket and it means you will always be able to jot down some important thought or note.


Fjallraven Kanken Backpacks

Fjallraven Kanken backpacks

If you haven’t already spotted them around you soon will. This Swedish staple from 1978 is now a bone-fide classic on the streets here. And why? It does a simple job very well – unzip it fully and you’ll find everything you need, no rumaging around in endless pockets.

Why you need this item:

It strips back a backpack to its core function and does it very well. It is waterproof (Fjallraven are Swedish outdoors experts) and then there’s the colours – so many to choose from, whether bright or muted.


Lamy Safari Special Edition Fountain Pen 2017 - Petrol

special edition lamy safari fountain pen

Each year this pen is released with a new colour and it was always a big ask to follow on from last year’s purple. Who would want to be David Moyes to follow Alex Ferguson? (it’s a football reference, don’t worry). Lamy actually pulled it off though with the petrol pen, an unusual but smart teal-petrol green colour. Special editions sell out so when they’re gone they’re gone.

Whilst stocks last we have put this pen on promotion – grab it now for just £14.95

Why you need this item:

The Safari is widely regarded as an exceptional pen – it writes fantastically, is an easy pen to use for everyone and yet costs a fraction of many a more expensive pen. In other words, it’s worth every penny.


Kyoto Inks

kyoto inks from japan

A new ink range just in from Japan, and looking the part. Five colours, all lovely from a black-with-sheen to a dusky blue and a vibrant pink-red.

Why you need this item:

Sometimes you buy things because the sum of it is so much more than the parts. These inks just tick all the boxes, from the packaging to the bottle to the colours to the inks. Worth that indulgence once in a while to treat yourself.


Walk With Me Maps

Walk With Me maps

We all want to decorate our homes with something a little different and these are just that. Beautiful maps-as-artwork from a series of artists covering different neighbourhoods of London, Madrid and Barcelona.

Why you need this item:

Because maps let you dream of places and these are also beautiful to look at – hang one on your wall and it will transport you somewhere.


Taroko Breeze Notebook With Tomoe River Paper

Taroko Breeze notebook with Tomoe River paper

An exclusive notebook to Bureau, this book has it all. Right size, dot paper with an index and page numbers, and even with ink charts to record your favourite inks. Oh, and it has Tomoe River paper.

Why you need this item:

So many reasons but it’s the paper that does it – Tomoe River paper is lightweight Japanese paper that handles ink better than heavier papers, so it’s great to write with and yet packs in more paper for less weight.


Caran d'Ache 849 Fountain Pens

Caran d'Ache 849 fountain pen

The 849 pen is a classic, around since 1969. The addition of a fountain pen to the 849 range just means you can have an ink pen in the classic 849 hexagonal shape.

Why you need this item:

Those bright fluorescent colours were just made for summer.


Limited Edition Blackwing Vol.73 Pencils

Blackwing limited edition Volume 73 pencils

The limited edition Blackwing pencils always have a slightly convoluted naming convention, and this one is no exception (it has something to do with the measurement of the water clarity of Lake Tahoe, but please don’t ask). What is quite certain is that these pencils are a winner. The intense blue is inspired by the waters of Lake Tahoe and the nice touch of the topographic map etched onto the barrel works.

Why you need this item:

Blackwing are widely regarded as the best of all pencils, and so if you haven’t tried them yet then take the plunge and get yourself some. Time to find out why they are so highly rated.


Observer's Astronomy Notebooks

Astronomy notebook

An unusual mix of night-sky infographics and unusual paper rulings might make this book seem a bit too quirky for its own good, but it’s not. It’s really good fun, informative and refreshingly different.

Why you need this item:

Doesn’t everyone love to learn a bit more about the night skies above?

10 things you didn't know about the kanken

10 Things You Need To Know About The Fjallraven Kanken

10 things you didn't know about the kanken
A well used Kanken backpack from the Fjallraven archive, used daily sine 1982

The Iconic Fjallraven Kanken Bag

1. Back Support

The Fjallraven Kanken backpack was developed in the late 1970s to help Swedish schoolchildren cope with their heavy loads. Backache in young children had started to be a problem and the Kanken was designed to spread the weight evenly. The backpacks soon became a common sight in Swedish schools with their huge range of beautiful colours.

2. Popularity

200 Kankens are sold every hour worldwide such is their appeal now. The bags have gone on to become an iconic product, much loved by people all over the globe. Spotting fellow Kanken owners is now a legitimate pastime on the London Underground.

3. Genuine

Beware the fakes – with huge popularity comes the inevitable fakery. Fake Kankens can be seen everywhere now but they are easy to spot. The fabric is usually different, much softer like a standard bag and you don’t get the telltale creases on the front pocket. You also don’t get the water-resistance.

Kanken fake or genuine?
Kanken: Fake or real?

4. Water-Resistant

Fjallraven Kankens are brilliantly water-resistant. Vinylon F, the synthetic fabric they are made from, behaves more like a natural fibre and swells as it becomes damp. As it swells, the gaps between the woven fibres close more and thus it becomes more resistant to water penetration. This means there is no coating that needs to be maintained and this property lasts the life of the bag.

5. Vinylon F

Vinylon F is made in Japan but the original Vinylon was invented in North Korea. Made from polyvinyl alcohol and using limestone and anthracite as raw materials, it is the fabric of choice in North Korea where it is used for clothing and shoes and pretty much everything else. Though great for bags, it is hard to imagine what trousers made from this fairly stiff material would feel like.

Kanken information
So many useful features including the Vinylon F fabric

6. Lightweight

The use of Vinylon F makes the Kanken amazingly light, much more so than most other backpacks giving you an advantage before you fill it up. It also becomes more durable with time and softens as it ages so maybe the trousers would be ok.

7. Space

The trademark rectangular shape means it fits A4 books, files and laptops in easily unlike bags which narrow at the top. Not mentioning any other brands here!

8. Extra-Long Zips

The zips go all the way around and allow you to open it up like a suitcase. This makes it by far the easiest of bags to locate stuff in.

9. Environmentally Friendly

The Kanken is made by Swedish brand Fjallraven, a serious player in the outdoor gear market. Fjallraven means Arctic Fox which is a charismatic little predator on the brink of extinction and the company is involved in many conservation projects to help reverse the decline. They take their green credentials very seriously and whilst their products are not the cheapest, they are made to last and created with as little environmental impact as possible.

10. Art & Design

The Kanken is a piece of art, it’s official! In 2016 the Swedish Government listed and protected the Kanken on Svensk Form, the Swedish Society of Crafts and Designs. New special editions versions of the Kanken have been released with different webbing straps to celebrate and here at Bureau we have managed to get a few of the black versions with their Pippi Longstocking stripy straps.

Fjallraven Kanken special edition webbing straps
Kanken special edition webbing straps
kanken goes for a walk

Kanken Review: The Kanken Goes For The Summit

kanken goes for a walk

This is an unusual way to do a Kanken review but since this bag not only has history on its side (it’s a Swedish school classic) but it also has some great outdoors credentials, so what better place to roadtest it than on a walk to to the top of Helvellyn?

The Fjallraven Kanken Backpack In Action

I had been looking for a new rucksack for ages but could never find the right bag. Everything was either too heavy or not wide enough to carry lunch boxes, didn’t have compartments to organise everything, looked too executive or too camping store etc. When we got the Fjallraven backpack range in I wasn’t really thinking I would go for one because they looked too basic with not enough pockets and features. But, as is often the case, when you have one behind your desk for a couple of weeks you start wondering and checking it out and so I decided to give one a go because I really liked the simple design and the red fox logo.


This summer we were heading for the Lake District for a change. The (teenage) boys had got fed up with driving to France and begged to go somewhere in the UK. Having decided on the Lakes, I suggested the challenge of climbing up Helvellyn via Striding Edge and, once shown some spectacular pictures, the boys were very keen. Having recently acquired my Kanken, I packed it up with food, water (in the handily accessible side pockets) and other useful items, like our car keys, and off we headed, up the mountain.

Kanken Review: Striding Edge on Helvellyn

At 950m (3,117ft), Helvellyn is the third highest mountain in England and commands some spectacular views. The most exciting way to go up is via the narrow ridge of Striding Edge and then down the other side over the marginally less alarming Swirral Edge. Both promise a ‘path’ but the whereabouts of this is not always apparent and the ascent/descent requires a fair bit of scrambling. We set off in full sun and started the long slow climb up the side of the mountain which was easy going but hard work. A few hours later we reached the Hole in the Wall, actually a ladder over a wall, which marks the divide between hill climbing and scrambling. Here the heavens opened and we were instantly soaked, our so-called waterproofs offering hopeless protection against the driving rain.


This then was the first test of the Kanken, its ability to protect my belongings in a serious downpour. Actually it stood up quite well with all the contents kept dry, especially my phone which I was worried about. The rectangular shape is good for keeping items organised (our lunch) and upright (our drinks) and the way the front unzips completely, a bit like a suitcase, makes it easy to find things. The straps are well padded and the bag sits very comfortably on the back making it quite easy to carry despite all the bottles ending up in my Kanken.

Having had a rest and some food and guessing the rain was a permanent feature of the day, we headed off towards the summit which looked surprisingly vertical. Here the terrain changed to slippery wet rocks and it was necessary to climb up the rock face using our hands. The boys came alive at this point, having slogged for hours up a steep path, this was where they felt confident and they were suddenly able to swap roles with me, recommending footholds and easier routes up and leading the way. We did see a few families with younger children and I wondered if I would have been happy to do the climb when the kids had been younger. Not without one to one supervision I decided as it was a sheer drop down the sides of the mountain. I had read a few articles about the climb and most people seemed to say it was quite manageable but no one talked about how easy it might be to slip off. In the wet and the wind, the edge was sometimes very narrow and the drop on either side of you was hundreds of feet of rock-strewn steep-sided mountain.

Kanken Review: The Fjallraven Kanken makes it to the summit of Helvellyn

After what felt like a very long climb later, we finally reached the top and were rewarded with another downpour and some additional high winds. The view was still spectacular and we celebrated our victory – all decided it was the high point of the holiday and something we would all remember. We took some photos and then headed off down Swirrel Edge, by now the wind was blowing hard and it felt rather precarious. Again I wondered what it would be like with a ten year old in tow. Finally, after a good six hour round trip, we were back at the car park and looking forward to some well deserved local beer.


Once back at our cottage and still feeling surprised by the possibility of falling that the mountain had offered, I decided to google Striding Edge deaths to see if anyone had actually fallen off. In fact five people had fallen off and died in 2016 alone, six the year before, either off Striding or Swirral Edge and they had mostly been experienced climbers. The deaths had sparked safety calls for guided walks only or warning signs to be erected as every year people slip and fall. I can’t say I would want to be ‘guided’ or have a load of signs everywhere but it was rather sobering to read and I was glad I read it after and not before and I honestly don’t think I would take a young child up there. That’s just me though and no children appear to have fallen off so perhaps I am being a bit over protective. The Kanken backpack though was a great asset, working for wet and windy hiking as well as the urban commute – result.


Swedish Backpack: There’s A Fjällräven For Everyone

A sunny day, perfect for showing off our new bags.

So we take delivery of a certain Swedish backpack…and we always know a product is going to be popular when the staff at Bureau all descend on the delivery like buzzing wasps and then buy themselves one immediately. The Fjallraven backpacks from Sweden are definitely in that category. With their trademark fox logo and retro-styling, these backpacks can be spotted all round London and beyond, such has been their cult success. For those of you not familiar with the brand, keep an eye out and soon you’ll notice the red and white logo standing out amongst all the other bags.

Four of us in the office couldn’t resist the temptation to get a Fjällräven for ourselves and we all wanted very different things, so to show you some of the great choices available and say a little bit about why we wanted them here are our Bureau Fjällräven staff picks. Find out which Swedish backpack we each chose.

Jo’s Choice:

The Kanken No. 1 in black
The Kanken No. 1 in black

Kanken in black

This is the classic bag which comes in 43 colours but I went for black because I always do. The pros of the bag are the fact that it is so light. Even when full it somehow feels a lot lighter than my old bag. Also you can unzip the front so that you can see right in to the bag, a bit like a suitcase, which makes it easy to find things.  And I like the red and white logo.

The cons are that the fabric is a little stiff though I know that they do soften up over time and also that the zip in the rectangular corners can be a little awkward. They do allow for a laptop to be carried though so worth it. I had thought that there wouldn’t be enough pockets to keep things in but that hasn’t proved a problem for me and I quite like the open side pockets for non-valuables such as an umbrella and headphones – easily accessed

Click here to see more.

Isaac’s Choice:

The Kanken No. 2 in green
The Kanken No. 2 in green

As soon as I looked through the Fjallraven catalogue I knew which type of bag I wanted, the Kanken No. 2, with the same classic design it also comes with a few little upgrades that make it stand out for me. From the metal clasps and leather straps and emblem it takes the Fjallraven that extra mile, and so far I haven’t seen another person out there with one.

I went for the green colour, which is my favourite by a long stretch, although I would say the only downside is that you have a few less choices of colour with the No. 2 but it’s also made out of a slightly upgraded version of the G1000 material which I think feels and looks even better.

Apart from looking great, in more practical terms the No. 2 is lightweight, seems to always have enough space for everything I need, and even though my major worry was about the comfort of the straps I’ve actually never found them bothersome. However, if you did you can also buy Fjallraven designed pads for the straps

Overall it’s just a great bag, and one that looks good whether you’re out on a hike or on the commute to work.

Click here to see more.

Mishka’s Choice:

The Foldsack No. 1 in copper green
The Foldsack No. 1 in copper green

Fjallraven Foldsack 1 was love at the first sight – it was the colour and retro look that got my attention.

I tend to pack everything I might need and turn my bag into something Mary Poppins would carry. The Fjallraven foldsack is a nice change; it looks and feels minimalistic compared to my other backpacks. There is a zipped pocket in the front which holds keys, headphones and spare batteries. Main compartment is secured with two S-shaped clasps – I have to use both hands to get in, which is a good thing because it feels secure and puts my mind to rest. The bag sits well and has slightly padded back and the straps are padded too and feel very comfortable.

Once the main flap opens you will see a big compartment with divider for magazines/paper pads (possibly smaller laptop too). Inner pocket has 2 clips so it can be extended a little. The bag is made out of Fjallraven’s G-1000 heavy duty poly-cotton fabric which should have good water resistance (it can be waxed to improve it too). However, I haven’t had the chance to test that yet due to a good weather spell :))
There is minimal branding, fox sigil, Swedish flag, G-1000 embroidered and clasps carry a brand name. This bag is slim and perfect for city life. Design really stands out. I have been using this bag for weeks, it is made well, easy to carry and I would 100% recommend it.

Don’t tell others I said that because there can only be one.

Click here to see more.

Faisal’s Choice:

The Raven 20L in Black
The Raven 20L in Black

When it comes to a rucksack I need all the bells, whistles, pockets and zips. That’s why my pick is the Raven. (I actually picked the red coloured bag but for silly stock reasons, I am sure our more experienced customers will note, we only had the black to photograph).

The main pocket has a padded sleeve perfect for my laptop to slide into or I may prefer an A4 folder for all of those crucial doodles I sketched during my last meeting. Then there are a bunch of useful compartments spread out in the bag to sort out my pens, camera batteries, chargers and whatever else I pick up on the way home.

On the outside, the design is fairly minimal and the shape is clean, no bulging appendages. It is very much a subtle appearance which I like. Although part of me would have liked the big red on white Fjallraven logo as on the Kanken sacks. The straps are well padded so I don’t feel too much pain when I am at full backpacking load, definitely a must for those times I need to run away from home and still have all the “essentials” with me.

Click here to see more.

To see the whole range of Fjällräven Swedish backpacks that we have in stock click here.

battle of the backpacks

Battle of the backpacks

Rhodia vs Moleskine

Jo decided to put two very different backpacks to the test to see which was the best. They are quite different in both style and price but since they are both backpacks and intended for everyday use, and being two of our biggest brands, it’s a perfect excuse for a head-to-head battle. Sit back and prepare for the showdown – the Rhodia Laptop Backpack vs the Moleskine MyCloud Backpack.



Moleskine – This is a very stylish bag in a nice smart dark grey, almost black, with brilliant green and purple finishes inside. It looks good with subtle branding though the carry handles on the top are perhaps a little obtrusive. I would have preferred it with a single, more subtle strap but it makes it look like a certain Swedish rucksack which is currently in vogue. 9/10

Rhodia – Again, a stylish bag but a more solid look, less casual. The felt finish is unusual and the branding subtle. The inside is all brilliant Rhodia orange and even the zips carry the Rhodia logo. This looks like a cross between an executive bag and a backpack. 8/10



Moleskine – Lots of cool features here with plenty of zipped compartments to keep items safe. There is a handy collapsible bag clipped to the inside so you always have an extra bit of carry space plus a removable pouch for wet umbrellas or water bottles. There is a large karabiner-style clip on the outside to hang keys, though I am not sure I want my keys out, and plenty of places to clip items to. There is a padded phone pocket as well as padded pockets for a 13” laptop and a tablet and the main compartment has two zipped pockets plus two pen holders. The outside has two further zipped pockets and there is a strap on the back for slipping over a luggage trolley. A nice luggage label where you can store your contact details hangs on the side. 10/10

moleskine mycloud backpack      rhodia laptop backpack

Rhodia – Not quite as feature heavy as the Moleskine but still an impressive bag. There are two main zipped compartments of which the bigger, back compartment has a padded section for a 15” laptop. The front section features a large zipped pocket plus a Velcro-fastened pocket and spaces for three pens. There is also a key holder clip which is positioned inside the bag – seems a better arrangement to me. 7/10



Moleskine – with all its compartments and zipped pockets, this is a bag that will work well for organising your stuff. Where it scores less well against the Rhodia is in its construction. This is not well-padded on the back and the straps, though padded, are not as comfortable as the Rhodia. The base of the bag is made from a different more durable fabric which looks as if it would wipe clean and will be good for when you put the bag down in the wet. The bag is quite lightweight – a bonus for me as I don’t like heavy bags – but does mean it is not as solid. 7/10

Rhodia – This is a well built bag with a very nicely padded back. The arrangement of the straps means it sits quite tight on the back and is very comfortable to wear. The lack of outside pockets is offset by the good selection of compartments inside and you should be able to organise your stuff quite well here. The only negative is that the bag is a little heavy. For me that is a problem but if you don’t mind a little extra weight, your laptop and other items will be well protected. 8/10


Value for money

Moleskine – This is an expensive bag no doubt but it does look good and has several nice touches, especially the colourful contrasting lining. 7/10

Rhodia – This is a solid, smart piece of luggage and at nearly half the price of the Moleskine, it is very good value. You would be hard pressed to find something as well constructed for less. 10/10



Moleskine – 33/40click here to see more and buy

Rhodia – 33/40click here to see more and buy

The Moleskine is undoubtedly a very good looking bag with a host of cool features. It does sacrifice some of its internal space to laptop/tablet protection so you won’t get your shopping in here too. The Rhodia is smart in a more executive style and is solid and luxurious, but is an altogether bigger bag. If you want small and compact with lots of gadgets and on-trend styling then go Moleskine but if you want a great value for money bag which looks like it cost considerably more, the Rhodia is your bag.



Weight Dimensions Cost
Moleskine 1.1kgs 28cm x 35cm x 12cm £129
Rhodia 1.5kgs 32cm x 42cm x 12cm £75


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