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 choices, whether it be Swedish backpacks, Danish backpacks, Icelandic backpacks, or anything else from the Nordic region. 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:
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.
✔ Excellent materials
✔ Adjustable straps
Rains Messenger Bag
The classic Kanken with a little twist. The Fjällraven 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. It’s a Swedish mini backpack for both kids and adults alike!
What does Kanken mean in Swedish?
In Swedish, Kånka means “to lug” or “to carry.” Kånken is the name given to a backpack.
The Kankens external pockets and side pocks are super useful for storage on the go. Also, the label itself is reflective, a very clever hidden safety measure. There’s even a secret compartment inside the bag with a foam mat. This not only helps protect your back from sharp objects that can dig into you from the bag, it can also be removed and used as a seat pad on cold or wet surfaces.
|✔ Light, versatile and durable
✔ Grab handles
✔ Comes with an internal foam mat
Fjällraven Kanken No 2 Backpack
Swedish brand Sandqvist makes timeless bags that will last for ages and look good the whole time. We love their Hege backpack for the way it mixes leather elements with a cotton canvas body, and made using recycled polyester and organic cotton. The canvas means it droops nicely against the back, and the leather front helps it keep a clean, sharp silhouette. The Stig bag is another Scandi minimalist classic.
Sandqvist Backpacks, from $68 | £85.00 | 343 DKK
O’KANA began in Denmark in 2014, with a view to design and offer a “New-Age” Scandinavian design. Their take is preppier than your usual Scandinavian design piece, heavily influenced by heritage menswear, and their bags sit in the center of a Venn diagram of “briefcase” and “backpack”. This is a super smart option, perfect for work or school, in 100% handcrafted leather with a vintage patina.
Get 10% off your entire purchase with the code SCAN10.
|✔ Naturally water-resistant waxed handmade leather
✔ Front pocket
✔ Vintage patina
A useful nylon backpack that’s both spacious and water-repellant, this ARKET backpack actually folds into a small pocket, making it a perfect travel bag addition! It comes in a range of colors and the lining is made of majority recycled polyester.
|✔ Water-repellent nylon with a recycled polyester lining
✔ Unfolds from a zip pocket to a useful daypack
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!
Water repellent bags made from ocean waste that are impossibly chic, do you actually need any more justification? Tretorn are most famous for their shoes (Tretorn is the second oldest sneaker manufacture in the world), but their bags are just as impressive. As a company, they’ve been at the forefront of innovation for decades, so it’s only fitting that they would lead the charge when working with sustainable rubbers.
Through multiple – though teasingly diverse – collaborations with the likes of COMME DE GARÇON, Naturkompaniet, and even ABBA, Tretorn has come to be synonymous with style and sustainability. Their matte bags in tonal shades are a sophisticated take on the traditional backpack.
|✔ Sustainable rubber
✔ Tonal shades
✔ Traditional style
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
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
It doesn’t get more simple and functional than this backpack from Norse Projects. Constructed from a crisp and pure nylon rip-stop with a waterproof backer treatment. Made with integrated padded straps, an internal mesh compartment to keep essentials secure and side pockets for quick access storage. The bag is so lightweight that it can actually be folded into its own pocket and easily fits a 15″ laptop. Double reinforced to strengthen in essential areas.
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.
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 | 3150 DKK
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. Also, this backpack is made from leftover fabric and is therefore produced in limited quantity.
Peak Performance started as a skiing company in the 80s, providing Swedish skiers with sleeker apparel than the garish trend of the time. Nowadays, they’re still a champion of bold yet minimal aesthetics, though they’ve expanded their range from the slopes.
With a commitment to using sustainable fabrics and an eye for futuristic urban design, Peak Performance is a streetwear-approved option for happy campers and commuters alike. Their limited color palette features black, blush, and banana yellow, which is applied across a limited range of function-heavy designs.
|✔ Minimal, sleek and practical
✔ Adjustable straps, vislon zips and a padded laptop compartment for safe stowage of your everyday necessities
✔ Made of recycled and super-durable Polyester
Peak Performance backpacks
This leather backpack by Swedish brand TOTEM is made in collaboration with WIBOE PROJECTS. The spherical shape gives it a unique silhouette while the top handle, laptop section, and adjustable straps make it highly functional. Definitely more stylish than your typical backpack!
|✔ 15″ Laptop compartment
✔ Adjustable straps
✔ Interior zipped pocket
Want even more Scandinavian backpacks? See our full list of waterproof backpacks, including backpacks for travel, hiking and cycling!
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