The Fjallraven Rucksack No.21 has been a very good companion on my daily commute. I bought it because it was pretty, well made, and small. Originally I was going to do a 3 month review and then move on to my Navali messenger bag but I never made the switch. I just kept using the rucksack. Partly because it’s awesome and partly because I got super busy with my new toddler.
But now I need to get back to writing about bags and what better place to start than to detail what has made this rucksack great over a much longer review period than normal. Then on to the Navali!
Fjallraven Rucksack Use Case
Over the last year or so the medium Fjallraven Rucksack No.21 has been my commuting companion. I have carried it walking busy streets, on crowded buses, and through bustling convention halls. The thing that has become incredibly apparent is that the svelte profile of this bag grants it’s wearer much improved mobility over bulkier packs.
My Macbook, it’s charger, a small notebook and odds n’ ends (pens, usb cable, receipts I keep for no reason) are constantly in the main compartment. The laptop slot has faithfully protected my laptop and the main compartment while less than organized has done an admirable job keeping my stuff at hand.
Often I will need to add to that some lunch in various sized Tupperware containers or a jacket. The draw string top for all its hassle in opening, really excels at accommodating extra stuff. The bag extends upward rather than outward and the cover flap adjusts to fit.
The outside front pouch typically houses my sunglasses and headphones for easy access while commuting. Not having to open the main compartment on a busy bus is a great benefit but the front pouch is not secure. While I have never had anything fall out it has no closure mechanism.
The side pouches are much to narrow for any kind of bottle of water but are great for an umbrella. I am not sure why there are two side pouches (both the same size) as I have never needed two umbrellas and I am not sure what else I could carry in such a long and narrow pocket.
I really appreciate how durable the Fjallraven Rucksack is. The G1000 material has resisted stains, rain, and abrasion. The rucksack’s seams have all held together really well. The anchor points where the straps attach and the haul handle are showing no signs of wear.
Because I am not using this bag in rough terrain I can’t speak to how well it would do being thrown into a pickup truck bed daily or dropped down a rocky escarpment. I can say that the daily stress of carrying it and putting it on has in no way damaged the connection points. The only thing showing wear so far is fraying on the leather strap where it passes through the keeper ring.
There are a few things that don’t work and are annoying. The water bottle holder in the main compartment is largely crap. I would much prefer it to be an outside pocket. As it is it’s just a useless flap of fabric that gets in the way as I dig for stuff in the bag.
I like the idea of the seat pad but in practice I have never used it. Perhaps it helps pad the back while stowed away but as a pull out feature it gets forgotten.
The main compartment is not as accessible as would be nice in a commuter bag. I know that’s not specifically what the bag was designed for. I don’t like the little mental game of is it worth the effort to open this bag to get whatever. This is why sunglasses and headphones live in the front pouch.
Buy the Fjallraven Rucksack No. 21. It will be a reliable, stylish companion for many many years to come. It’s understated good looks and svelte design compliments a grown up wardrobe and will not make you look like you are off to school. It doesn’t scream steal me I have a laptop in me. Take care of it and it will take care of you.