Picking the right backpack is an important decision to make. Factors that you need to consider include price, design, comfort, and durability. To help you pick the perfect pack, we’re going to compare two of the largest brands in the backpack business: Jansport and their backpacks versus the Fjallraven Kanken.
Tale of Two Brands
Jansport was founded in 1968 in Seattle, Washington. It introduced its first daypack to the market in 1975, which would go on to feature the iconic design many people have come to associate with the brand. It was a bona fide hit, becoming wildly popular among students as a way to bring their books, notebooks, and calculators to class.
Fjallraven was started in 1960 on the other side of the Atlantic, all the way in Sweden. It introduced its iconic rucksack, the Kanken, in 1978, as a way for school kids to carry all their things without experiencing back pain. Since then, the Kanken has become one of the most popular backpacks in Europe and is sold all over the world.
Jansport Backpacks have many variants with different sizes and storage capabilities. One of their most popular variants, the Right Pack, offers a 31L capacity, an additional front pocket to store small objects, and a 15-inch laptop sleeve.
They also have smaller backpacks that can store up to 15L, as well as larger backpacks such as the Big Student that can store up to 35L worth of books.
Kankens are typically smaller than Jansport packs. The classic Kanken, which is primarily intended for children and young teens, is 16L, while its big variant can hold up to 20L. They also have an exterior front pocket and two mesh water bottle pockets but have no laptop sleeve.
If you plan to bring a laptop, there’s also the Kanken Laptop Backpack, which can store a laptop up to 15 inches wide.
Durability & Comfort
Jansport backpacks are constructed with Cordura nylon, which is tough and resistant to wear and tear. However, the real selling point is Jansport’s trademark unconditional lifetime warranty.
This means that, if your backpacks give in to wear and tear, Jansport will almost always replace or repair your pack for you. On the comfort side of things, Jansport’s backpacks often have fairly well-padded straps that minimize discomfort. However, they do not offer much ventilation.
Fjallraven only has a two-year warranty. However, their construction is just as tough as Jansport’s and should outlast two years. Kankens are made of sturdy Vinylon F materials which are water resistant and durable.
Jansport bags have an iconic American silhouette that is widely known and became a fashion trend throughout the 80s and 90s. These bags also come in a wide variety of colors, and in some cases, feature attractive suede leather bottoms.
On the other hand, the Kanken backpacks have a striking, nostalgic boxy appearance, which gives them a unique charm. Furthermore, the fabric tends to wear out over time in an attractive manner, giving them a more handsome look as time goes by.
Which Pack Should You Get?
Both backpack brands are iconic, and either of them will serve you well as a backpack for school, work or even light travel.
You should get a Jansport if you prefer a more classic design, if you want your backpack to have more storage space, and if you want comfortable shoulder straps. Jansport packs are also typically much cheaper than a Kanken.
You should get a Fjallraven if you prefer packs with a more eclectic, nostalgic aesthetic that stands out from the crowd. Also, Kankens typically have mesh water bottle pockets, which Jansport packs normally do not have.