The Fjällräven Kanken Is the Best Backpack for Parents
Bring a dash of style to your parenting ensemble
Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+.
Things you quickly learn as a new parent: how to do nearly any task with one hand while balancing a baby in the other, there are pits of exhaustion deeper than you ever knew existed, and not all diaper bags are created equal. Holding wet wipes, a blanket, hand sanitizer, and, of course, diapers may seem like a simple task. But Fjällräven’s Kanken ($80) does it better than anything else I’ve tried in the 11 months since my daughter, Jojo, was born.
And it wasn’t designed to be a diaper bag at all, more a fashionable pack for urban use and day hikes. That lends it some style you don’t get with the run-of-the-mill tote. The exterior of polypropylene and vinylon (a synthetic fiber that swells when wet to create a tighter weave and keep out rain and moisture), with its muted colors, is reminiscent of handsome waxed canvas, and the simple webbing shoulder straps and handle add to the low-key aesthetic. I was at a wedding last weekend, lugging baby supplies around the ceremony and reception, and the Kanken didn’t look out of place among the suits and ties.
Appearances aren’t everything, though. The Kanken is also the perfect size. Its boxy, 16-liter shape can pack some serious gear. It reminds me of a clown car as I pull a seemingly impossible number of toys, blankets, changing supplies, snacks, and water bottles (plus a six-pack for Daddy) out of it.
The Kanken can also withstand no small amount of wear and tear. I drop it, shove it into crowded trunks, and sometimes let it go too long between cleanings. But if it does get grody, I can just throw it in the washing machine and dryer without a worry. The Kanken has shown no serious wear and tear in spite of my admittedly brutal treatment.
When Jojo is ready to move on from diapers, the Kanken will seamlessly transition into an everyday carry pack. Then again, if we do decide to have another kid, I already know which diaper bag I’ll be using.