Not sure that a backpack is for you? Scandinavian backpacks will change your mind with their minimalist design, cool style and top quality materials. There are a range of brands that produce great backpacks: there’s something for professionals, travellers, cyclists, people who want to swap out their handbag with something easier on the shoulder, or just people who need to haul a lot of crap around.
We’re sharing the best minimalist and functional backpacks from your favorite Scandinavian brands:
Swedish brand Sandqvist makes timeless bags that will last for ages and look good the whole time. We love their Alva backpack for the way it mixes leather elements with a cotton canvas body. The canvas means it droops nicely against the back, and the leather front helps it keep a clean, sharp silhouette.
Sandqvist Alva Backpack, €235
Talk about luxury! This leather backpack has a whipstitch rope detailing that gives it a bit of a Western Americana vibe, but the size, shape, and way the backpack sits is very 90s. The slight bucket bottom means the bag also looks good if you hold it as a regular handbag by the top handle.
Waterproof, durable and sleek, the Rains Messenger Bag is a hold-all kind of bag that also looks professional. Danish raincoat and accessories company Rains always strikes the right balance of minimalist to functional, and their prices are very fair for the quality and design you get.
Rains Messenger Bag, €67
The classic Kanken with a little twist. The No 2 backpack has a black logo patch to match the black backpack body, making it a little bit more sleek that the typical Kanken. These bags are internationally popular for a reason: they fit way more than you’d think, the quality is excellent and they look great. This is a backpack you can use for work, use for the kids, use for travel – anything! They flatten out and weigh almost nothing, so it’s a great bag to have when you need extra space.
Kanken No 2 Backpack, €122
A simple and useful backpack from Finnish textile giant Marimekko. The slim silhouette and spacious interior make it an easy choice for people who need to carry a lot but don’t want to be too weighed-down.
Marimekko Enni Backpack, €205
When is a backpack not a backpack? When it’s also a tote. The Hybrid Backpack makes the transition look easy with thick straps that lie flat against the back of the bag so you can carry it as a tote. The bag is so lightweight that it can actually be folded into its own pocket.
The pebbled leather of this small but spacious backpack gives it a texture that makes it unique while still trendy. This bag comes in a number of colors, including black, pale pink and light blue. The blue in particular is a great pop of something bright – but not too bright – for spring, while the black is a bit more professional and classic.
Decadent Backpack, €326
Danish heritage brand Adax makes sleek and useful bags. The Ann backpack has an old fashioned silhouette that is made contemporary with its subtle crossed straps and detailing. This bag can fit all your work or school gear, plus it looks great when you go out after the office. It looks great in black, but the cognac color is a bit lighter for a day-to-day option.
Adax Ann Backpack, €295
This is the perfect backpack for those who want an ultra-professional looking option that’s still affordable. When held by the top handle, it’s a sleek briefcase. When slung on the back, it’s a geometric, beautiful backpack. Win-win! If you’re looking for something less structured from COS, their Technical Drawstring Backpack (€51) in canvas is also worth a look!
Mismo is a brand that puts meticulous care into every item they produce. Although that means the cost can be high, it also means the quality you can expect is top notch. This slim nylon bag with strong leather straps is both beautiful and highly-functional, with a fold-over top that keeps all your items safe and also gives it a little visual pop.
Mismo Express Backpack, €400
It may not be the most minimalist of all the backpacks, but if you need something to withstand extreme weather conditions, you can’t get better than products from 66°North . Their Waterproof 15L Backpack holds everything including the kitchen sink. The tough outer layer makes it a great choice for cyclists or campers.
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