BAGS VS BAGS – PART 1 (KANKEN VS HERSCHEL)

by Jingle Chen in ,


Kånken vs Herschel

I was shopping for a backpack to accompany me to go on my Tokyo trip this November and I was looking at a few brands. Among Brooks, Crumpler, Eastpak, Cote & Ciel etc there were 2 brands that is very popular amongst the young adults now.

Let me do a casual comparison between Fjällräven Kånken and Herschel, the 2 brands that I am interested in getting amongst others.

1: History / Origination

Fjällräven Kånken: In the 1950’s, 14 year-old Åke Nordin from Örnsköldsvik in Northern Sweden spent more time outdoors than indoors. After many long treks in the mountains, Åke decided the backpacks at the time were unsatisfactory and took matters into his own hands by building a wooden frame. This evenly distributed weight across his back so the pack did not end up uneven, pear-shaped, and uncomfortable. It also meant he could carry more weight with ease. Åke’s innovation quickly caught on and in 1960 Fjällräven became the first to commercially make and distribute framed backpacks.

How the original bag used to look like (source: from brand’s website)

How the original bag used to look like (source: from brand’s website)

Fjällräven means Arctic Fox in Swedish, honoring the small and highly adaptable predator that lives in the Swedish mountains under the harshest conditions. From the small town of Örnsköldsvik, Fjällräven has now expanded to every corner in the world. The fundamental ideas remain the same; provide functional, durable, and timeless equipment to make the outdoors more enjoyable for all. We continue to find smart, innovative solutions to make every adventure an unforgettable one. (source: brand’s website)

Herschel: In the early 1900′s, Peter Alexander Cormack and his wife made the journey from Wick, Scotland and settled in the small town of Herschel, whose population today is counted at 30 residents.

Founded in 2009 by brothers Jamie and Lyndon Cormack, Herschel Supply Co. adopted the name of the small town where three generations of their family were raised. Herschel Supply Co. is based in Vancouver, Canada and manufactures the finest quality backpacks, bags, travel goods and accessories. Their goal is to create timeless product with a fine regard for detail.(source: brand’s website)

2: Variety

Fjällräven Kånken: There is more than meets the eye. The Fjällräven brand carries both men, ladies and kids products ranging from camping gear, outdoor terrain wear, hats and other accessories. The Kånken backpack is just one category under the equipment section, which also houses technical backpacks, duffle bags, tote bags, rucksacks and briefcases.

All the colours and more coming up… so which is you? (source: brand’s website)

All the colours and more coming up… so which is you? (source: brand’s website)

So what’ so special about the Kånken bag? It’s iconic rectangular shape with handles at the top makes it easy to spot and hard to miss. The brand logo is round and visible from far. Available in classic, mini, big and maxi sizes and myriad of colours (THAT specific colours from the Pantone swatch, designers might call it), I love the way the Swedish thinks.

Study the sizes

Study the sizes

They are not afraid to make the whole bag in MUD colour, or an OCHRE that you see only on a Paddington Bear’s boots. Not sure if Asians are used to seeing FROST GREEN, since we live in summer 365 days a year, or can differentiate between tropical greens with their GREENLAND GREEN, it’s a statement piece that let you finally think…”yes, it’s time to find a colour that’s me, and I am so sick of all the other brands trying to have patterns printed on them!”.  Oh yes, I just saw a UNCLE BLUE, guess what shade of blue is that!?

Herschel: The interesting thing about Herschels’ supplies it that it has a great spread of items, but manages to stay focused.

Different bags, accessories for the seasonal collection (source: brand’s website)

Different bags, accessories for the seasonal collection (source: brand’s website)

The sizes are grouped in the following manner, thus you can be pretty clear of the signature sizes they have. All of the below come in seasonal colours, patterns, mix of materials e.g Rubber and Canvas and collaboration with other brands e.g Stussy

A glance at their sizes (Source: Brand’s website)

A glance at their sizes (Source: Brand’s website)

- Heritage Kids (For Preschool)

-Settlement Mid-Volume (For Elementary)

-Pop Quiz (For Middle School)

-Little America (For High School)

-Heritage Plus (For College)

-Totem Messenger (For Post Grad)

One of my favourite design and collection

One of my favourite design and collection

Let’s take a closer look at the rubber buckle.

The red rubber stands out pretty nicely from the blue

The red rubber stands out pretty nicely from the blue

3: Usability  

Fjällräven Kånken: The bags are touted to be ergonomic – since it’s suppose to spread the weight of your stuff evenly and it does look very spacious, thus great for textbooks (it started off as bags for Swedish school children in 1978).

A closer look at the logo and top handle

A closer look at the logo and top handle

With the top handle, you can easily check in your Kånken like a luggage or maneuver it around the small spaces below plane seats. I think if the Singapore arm forces gives out free Kånken bags, all the girls will gladly sign up for national service too!

Herschel: Because the bags come in so many different size, variations with other accessories like pouches, pencil cases, wallets and laptop cases to match, it’s extremely versatile if you love a certain season’s collection since you will be practically buying all the other accessories as well. The bags are also spacious, and lined with soft fleece fabric for some and a dedicated laptop pocket.

I love how it feels and looks on the inside

I love how it feels and looks on the inside

The bags are light and are available in basic colours like black, grey, beige and darkbrown.

4: Availability

Fjällräven Kånken: The bags are available in Singapore in some designer stores, as there is no flagship store specializing in the bags yet. However there are some online stores that carry it like Zalora and Revolveclothing that ships free to Singapore.

Herschel: A small range is available at Tangs, and lookout for sale up to 30% off. I prefer to go online as there are more options to choose from. A good selection in SGD are the herschel bags from Zalora for the ladies and for the opposite sex. There is 30 days free return and free delivery above SGD$40 and offer discounts up to 70% for other brands too.

5: Price

Fjällräven Kånken: The bags ranges from £43.00 for a mini,  £55.00 for a classic and £75.00 for the big size – or around SGD$69 from some online stores.

Herschel: The bags retails more in major departmental stores like Tangs, but you can source for a local person that does mass ordering to bring in the bags in a much lesser price. Alternatively, different online stores like Zalora, Asos, Revolvclothing and Hypebeast also carries certain styles not available on the website. Basic backpacks from the size of Settlement and Popquiz is around $60-$90, where the Little America can range from $113 – $300 depending whether is it limited edition and the season.