Fjallraven Raven 28L Backpack Review
The Fjallraven Raven 28L backpack is a high-quality pack, built with supremely durable materials, and with plenty of space to comfortably haul plenty of books, electronic devices, and other daily essentials. The bag has a simple, clean aesthetic that is best suited for those who appreciate the minimalist lifestyle.
A simple, clean aesthetic, best suited for the minimalists among us.
I do wish there was a second large compartment, and I wish that the pack breathed a bit more effectively, but these are small gripes for an otherwise excellent backpack. If you’re in the market for a new backpack for school, work, or travel, I am confident this pack will help you get the job done in style.
The Raven 28L is made with Fjallraven’s G1000 Heavy Duty Eco fabric. The Eco means the material is made from recycled polyester and organic cotton, showing a welcome commitment to lowering their environmental impact. The Heavy Duty title signals a material that is stronger than the usual G1000, and that is more than ready to be tossed about in the outdoors, kicked under the desk in front of you, or dragged through the airport as you head out for your next world adventure. Fjallraven states that the Heavy Duty fabric has been impregnated on both sides with their go-to Greenland Wax. This means you can rest easy when you get caught in a downpour with your laptop zipped away in your backpack; the Greenland Wax makes the fabric water resistant and in my experience I haven’t noticed one drop of moisture getting into the inside of the pack. The skeptics among us will be pleased to know you can purchase a bar of the wax from Fjallraven’s website. Feel like the water resistance is dying out? Go ahead and give your pack a good rub down with the bar of wax and it’ll be just like new.
For all the benefits that the Heavy Duty fabric has to offer, it does come with some downsides. Mainly, the heavy use of Greenland Wax means the backpack doesn’t breathe as well as it would with other fabrics. I didn’t have much of a problem with this in regards to the inside of the backpack, but you will notice it when you’re packing a heavy load with the summer sun beating down on you. There’s not a lot in the way of ventilation on the back panel, and because the panel is so rigid (in order to protect your laptop and documents), back sweat can be a bit of a problem. It’s not a huge issue, and it’s probably only going to be a problem if you plan to use the pack for intensive activities, such as hiking a steep trail in the dead of the summer.
Fjallraven may not make the flashiest of gear, but they certainly put effort into making sure their products will hold up over time
All of the zippers on the pack are YKK, and I’ve had no issues with them snagging or being difficult in any way. There is a lip of fabric that comes over the top of them which can be a bit stiff and annoying when you first get the pack, but they soften with use and make it easier to get at the zippers. The pulls on the zippers as well as the standard nylon strap adjusters have all held up well, even surviving a thorough chew session from my little puppy.
Overall, the pack feels great and my experience with other Fjallraven products suggests that it will hold up for a long time. Fjallraven may not make the flashiest of gear, but they certainly put effort into making sure their products will hold up over time. Moreover, if you purchase the pack in the United States, they offer a Limited Lifetime Warranty. This covers issues such as broken zippers, ripped seams, or other manufacturing defects.
On a final note, I cannot express how much I love that leather handle up top. It’s a small thing and an area where most manufacturers would skimp out, but Fjallraven’s attention to detail really shines here and I thoroughly enjoy holding the bag from that handle.
Storage was the most disappointing area for me, though it should speak volumes (not a pun, I promise) that my disappointment in this area wasn’t enough to cause me to regret buying the pack. Rather, I simply found myself occasionally wishing for more.
The pack has two roomy side pockets that should fit most water bottles or umbrellas. I store a tennis ball in there so I can be ready for an impromptu game of fetch with my dog at any moment. They’re deep enough that things shouldn’t fall out unless they are unreasonably top heavy or you’re tossing the bag about vigorously. Still, they don’t cinch up at all, and they can feel a bit too loose for my liking. There were a number of times where I had stored keys in one of the pockets and when I went to bend down or sling the pack off my shoulder, the keys would fall out. They also serve as pretty easy spots to be pickpocketed from. I don’t recommend keeping anything of value in them.
It’s a roomy enough pocket and it feels great, you definitely won’t have to worry about harming your screens in here.
At the top of the bag, there’s a felt-lined pocket to store your phone and other small valuables such as sunglasses. It’s a roomy enough pocket and it feels great, you definitely won’t have to worry about harming your screens in here. I currently own a OnePlus 7 Pro, one of the largest mobile devices on the market, and I have had no problem fitting the phone in the pocket or pulling it back out. If you use the bag for school you might consider putting things like pens, index cards, or a pack of gum here. It’s deceptively large and is in a hyper-convenient location for quick access when the bag is set down.
There are three main compartments on the bag. The first, closest to your back, has a compartment for your laptop as well as a separate compartment meant to store documents without bending them. The more tech-oriented could easily use the second compartment to store a tablet. Neither of the compartments has a strap to secure their contents, and the laptop compartment does not have a false bottom to protect the edge of your device. Nonetheless, I haven’t had any issues with the bag damaging any of my devices and the front and back of the laptop compartment are heavily padded. While this section of the bag is successful for what it is designed to do, it’s also the section that most left me wanting more. It is simply too rigid. I found that I really couldn’t store anything beyond laptops, papers, and tablets in here. It would be nice if the space between the laptop and paper compartments could also hold some items, such as books, or clothes. But I found that when I tried to store other items here, it made everything too compressed and nothing fit very well. Imagine the extra space there could be if only this section allowed you to store some more than just your laptop!
I don’t recommend doing this, as it makes the pack weigh about as much as a rhinoceros.
The next section is the largest compartment. There’s really not a whole lot to say about this section. It’s good, large, deep, and wide. There is a small zippered pouch at the top/front of this section, and it’s an easy pouch to miss. It blends in so well with the rest of the compartment that I didn’t even notice it for a few weeks. If you have something that you want to keep relatively secret, go ahead and store it here. I’m not promising you anything, but there’s a good chance snoopers will miss it. I am currently an English graduate student and I’ve been able to pack up to 15 books in this main compartment. It’s that big. I don’t recommend doing this, as it makes the pack weigh about as much as a rhinoceros, but if you need to swing by the store real quick on your way home you should have plenty of space for a few groceries. I have yet to pack the bag full of clothes, but I am confident that when I do need to do so it will have plenty of space for three to four days worth of clothing.
The final section is essentially your organizing pouch. On the front panel, you have two, zippered, mesh pouches. I like to keep a bunch of pens, charging cables, flash drives, and other little knick-knacks in these. On the back panel, there’s three sewn-in pouches. These work great for a go-to pen, a passport and some gum, and maybe a case for some earbuds. That’s my setup anyway. This section isn’t huge, by any means, but it’s not terribly small either. It’s probably best used to store things such as charging bricks and power adapter, or anything small you might need quick access too on a plane such as a few granola bars. It’s not going to be a place you turn to when packing, but it can work in a pinch.
Finally, the front of the backpack has an angled pocket and a cute little Fjallraven fox fastened to the bottom corner. The pocket here isn’t very large and I don’t really end up using much. I’m sure the more organized could find more use for it, but I currently just throw a bunch of hair ties in there so that I’m sure to never run out.
Aside from the ventilation issues mentioned in the quality section, there’s not a whole lot to complain about here. The straps are good, not great. They have enough padding to get the job done but there’s nothing about them that’s going to leave you wowed. Because the back panel is so rigid, I found that the bag can get a little uncomfortable when it is heavy and you’re wearing it for a long time. Then again, that’s true of just about all bags.
Unless you’re battling 100-degree temperatures with the rhinoceros on packed away.
It’s not a bag that is going to mould to you, it definitely has a boxy feel to it, but the construction quality is enough to make you forget most of these things. It’s a reasonably comfortable bag that won’t leave you with many complaints. Unless you’re battling 100-degree temperatures with the rhinoceros on packed away.
Fjallraven has a bit of a reputation for selling expensive products. Their most popular backpacks, the Kanken line, have always seemed unreasonably high priced to me, and it was a turn off for a long time. At $110.00 USD, the Raven 28L isn’t the cheapest bag on the market, but you’ll find that it’s pretty comparably priced to some of the bigger brands out there. I, for instance, was trying to decide between this bag and The North Face Surge backpack, which comes in at $129.00. I’m thrilled that I went with Fjallraven. The Raven 28L offers excellent value for the price. It’s a bag that looks understatedly phenomenal, has more than enough space to carry everything I’ve needed it to carry, and it’s made out of some of the highest quality materials on the market. It may be more expensive than your Jan Sports and your Herschels, but the Fjallraven Raven 28L backpack is a bag that will last, and you’ll feel great slinging it over your shoulder each day.