Schools are back (finally!) and both Zanders boys have been sent to learn with their Kånken backpacks on their backs, just like their Mama did sometimes in the eighties…
Did you know…
Kånken means Arctic Fox in Swedish. Fjällraven originally designed the Kånken in 1978 for kids with back problems due to book carrying. Today this iconic Swedish brand hasbecome a beloved icon and a fashion accessory for generations all around the world.
From a small cellar space in Örnsköldsvik, Fjällräven has expanded to all corners of the world. It all started with a 14-year-old boy who didn’t think that the backpacks of the time were particularly comfortable, and who decided to do something about it.
The year was 1950, and Åke Nordin was going on a trek in the mountains of Västerbotten together with a good friend. Åke was a scout and loved being outdoors. But carrying his provisions uncomfortably was not the young boy from Örnsköldsvik’s idea of fun. And backpacks of the 1950s were certainly uncomfortable, as they hung like shapeless bags from your backside and forced the wearer to walk bent doubled to compensate for the weight.
Åke had read that if you were going to carry anything heavy, the weight should be positioned high up and close to the back. In a lodge adjoining the family’s holiday house outside Örnsköldsvik he made a wooden frame. Using his mother’s treadle sewing machine he sewed a bag out of strong cotton material which he fastened to the wooden frame using leather straps.
Åke was happy. The frame distributed the load better across his back and increased the ventilation between the back and the backpack. In addition, he could carry a heavier pack.
First customers were Samis….
The backpack attracted attention in the mountain world, not least among the Sami who spent several weeks at a time in the mountains. They understood the importance of a robust backpack that was comfortable even when heavily loaded. An older Sami asked Åke to make a backpack for him. Next time Åke went into the mountains, talk of the carrying frame had spread and Åke sold several more examples of his design.
What happened next, well… Kånken has become a classic. A hardwearing companion for years to come.
Have you got yours already?
Selection of Kånken backpacks available from here.
Here are little peeks into the fashion world of Kånken… Images from Pinterest.
History text from Fjällraven webpage. All images from Pinterest.