Here at Open Air, it’s no secret that we love Fjällräven; they produce some outstanding clothing and equipment with an incredible level of thought put into the design. Whilst the Kånken is wildly popular, some things may be less familiar, so here is our handy guide to the questions we get asked most:
- How do you pronounce Fjällräven/Kånken?
- What does Fjällräven/Kånken mean?
- Where does Fjällräven come from?
- What is so special about a Kånken/Why are Kånkens so popular?
- Is Fjällräven worth the money/Why is Fjällräven so expensive?
- What fabric is a Fjällräven Kånken made from?
- Which size Kånken do I need?
- How can you tell a fake Kånken from a real one?
- Is a Kånken bag waterproof?
- How do you clean/look after a Kånken?
- Which colour of Kånken should I buy?
How do you pronounce Fjällräven / Kånken ?
Try “Fy-ahll-rah-ven” and you’ll be pretty close! Also, Kånken is pronounced “Kon-ken”!
What does Fjällräven / Kånken mean?
“Fjäll” means “Arctic” and “Räven” means “Fox” in Swedish, so Fjällräven is the beautiful “Arctic Fox” you see in their logo. “Kånken” simply means “to carry”! In Sweden, an experienced walker or adventurer who traverses the great Scandinavian outdoors is known as “a true Arctic fox”.
Where does Fjällräven come from?
Fjällräven was established in 1960 by Åke Nordin in his home town of Örnsköldsvik in Sweden’s High Coast region – although he began inventing a new lightweight rucksack design in the early 1950s as a 14 year old boy scout!
What is so special about a Kånken? / Why are Kånkens so popular?
The Kånken was specifically designed as a school bag in 1978 to solve some of the back problems reported by children in Sweden. They are a great size and practical design for most everyday carrying needs – whether as a school bag, for work, the gym, or as a travel companion (it complies with most hand luggage restrictions). They are comfortable to carry, strong, built to last, have a timeless look that has become truly iconic, and of course, the range of colours and patterns means you can find one to match your own style!
Is Fjällräven worth the money?
The simple answer, in our opinion, is an unequivocal yes!
Firstly, Fjällräven’s kit is built to last, so whether it’s clothing, a backpack or other equipment, you will be able to use it for years and years to come. Compared to something you might have to replace much sooner, their products more than show their value over time. Many of their designs are timeless classics, like the Greenland Jacket from 1968 and its Winter sibling from the 1970s. Underpinning this is Fjällräven’s special G-1000 fabric – which you can learn more about (and all its different versions) in an upcoming post.
Secondly, it’s also really well designed, with functional pockets in the right places, and some stand-out features such as the Keb and Kaipak ranges which use a clever mix of hard-wearing G-1000 and stretchy fabrics. Traditionally, Fjällräven’s clothing designs and fabrics are suited to cooler Scandinavian climates, which crosses over and works really well for our changeable British weather most of the year. They keep innovating, however, and more recently have developed some excellent new fabrics and models for use in hotter temperatures – like the G-1000 Air Stretch used in their award-winning* Abisko Midsummer trousers, shorts and jacket.
Thirdly, as well as paying attention to detail in their design, Fjällräven have a strong commitment to sustainability and minimising the impact of their clothing. This is achieved partly through the durability of their equipment we mentioned earlier, partly through manufacturing products that can be more easily fixed or have parts replaced, and partly through their choice of fabrics. Increasingly, and wherever possible, they now use “Eco” versions of their G-1000 fabrics, which use recycled polyester and organic cotton to minimise environmental impact. Fjällräven have a clear passion for the outdoors, and want to help and encourage people to enjoy it, not just today, but for generations to come.
What fabric is a Fjällräven Kånken made from?
There are three different fabrics used for the main part of a Kånken bag:
- The original Kånkens are made from a hard-wearing and easy-to-care-for synthetic fabric called Vinylon F. Like cotton ventile, the fibres of vinylon swell when they get damp, making the weave tighter and more resistant to showers.
- Kånken No.2 bags are made from the HeavyDuty Eco version of Fjällräven’s famous G-1000 fabric. As well as being extremely durable, this fabric is made from recycled polyester and organic cotton to boost its eco credentials. You can also spot them by their leather detailing on the badges and handles.
- The relative newcomer in the range is the Re-Kånken. These are made from a special polyester derived entirely from recycled plastic bottles – even including the thread for the Fjällräven logo! Not only that, they also use a special dyeing process that massively reduces the amount of water, energy and chemicals used. When your bag finally gets to the end of its life, it can be recycled again! How cool is that?
Which size Kånken do I need?
If you need a bit more room, the Kånken also comes in specific 13″, 15″ and 17″ laptop versions; and the No.2 comes in a 15″ laptop version. These all have an extra pocket on the back designed to neatly take your laptop, and a bit more padding to protect the laptop and be more comfortable on your back.
How can you tell a fake Kånken from a real one?
This can be tricky sometimes, but there are several things you should check:
- Is the price too good to be true? It is rare to find a real Kånken at a substantial discount. Make sure you buy from an authorised dealer!
- What does the fabric feel like? This can be hard to tell unless you know what you’re looking for to compare, but is often the biggest giveaway. The surface of Vinylon (used for the real things) tends to be smoother, yet harder and tougher than the fabric used in fakes, which can be quite soft and flexible, but rougher to touch.
- Is the front logo right? It should be reflective and have the correct
“FJÄLLRÄVEN KÅNKEN” accents. Some fake logos just have a white or light grey non-reflective background or miss the accents from the lettering.
- Are the popper buttons correct? The fox should be facing in the same direction as the front patch, and not rotated round, and the button should say WASA 6 printed on the back.
- Are the zips correct? The zip pullers should all have the fox logo on one side and FJÄLL RÄVEN written on the other; the zip sliders should have YKK branding on the side.
- Check the quality of the stitching and the straps; fakes often look poorly finished or have thinner straps.
- Does it have the correct name/address label stitched inside the bag?
- Does the bag come with the right tags? The brown paper tags should have a full colour version of the Swedish Royal Emblem and a barcoded sticker with the colour name and style code. Fake tags often use single colour emblems, but beware, some fake Kånkens come with stolen real tags.
Images: Marta Miracle/Fjällräven
Note that (a) not all fake Kånkens will show all of these issues and (b) Fjällräven keep adding new differentiating features to make Kånkens harder to copy and so older (real) bags will look slightly different to current production models.
Is a Kånken bag waterproof?
No, but they are water-resistant and will keep a light shower off your stuff. A Kånken No. 2 can be waxed for extra protection. In heavy rain, you’ll need a rain cover. These come with a reflective Kånken logo patch, to help keep you safe and visible when cycling.
How do you clean/look after a Kånken?
Scrub it gently with soapy water. Whatever you do, don’t put it in the washing machine! Check out our handy guide.
Which colour of Kånken should I buy?
The hardest question of all! Only you can really decide as the choice is so personal, but we carry one of the widest ranges of Kånkens and Kånken accessories you’ll find, so there’ll definitely be one for you!
*Abisko Midsummer Trousers: Gold winner, Mountain & Hiking Pants category, Outstanding Outdoor 2019 Awards by ISPO