The Fjallraven Ulvo 23 backpack is an ultralight, highly durable pack for adventurous travelers. Weighing in at just 2.6 pounds, this pack is perfect for hiking and trekking adventures.
Are you familiar with the heart-eyes emoji? That’s the most excellent way to express our team’s feelings about the Fjallraven Ulvo 23. This backpack has clean lines, vibrant color, and a basic shape that does not distract from the bag’s overall functionality. It’s a significant change from the company’s very successful Kanken bundle, but we believe it’s a good one. (Though the Kanken remains a favorite of ours.)
We put the Ulvo 23 through its paces for a month, using it as a daily driver in Detroit, Michigan, and on vacation to San Francisco, California. While we recognize that this bag isn’t for everyone—especially those of you looking for a Tom Bihn-level organization—we’ve had a great time putting it to the test.
Aesthetics & Materials
We have said how much we like the look of this bag. Its rounded form, exquisite stitching, and vintage typography on the brand tag combine to produce a bag that is both traditional and contemporary.
It comes in two versions at the time of this review: a roll-top and a zipped top. The former is more traditional, while the latter’s sleeker design hints at modernism.
The Mountain Blue hue is the one we’ve been testing, but it’s also available in Black and Red Gold. Fjallraven uses muted, earthy tones, so these choices aren’t surprising. However, if you’re more of a neon-or-bust type, you may want to skip this review and get a Cotopaxi pack instead.
A logo tag is sewn onto the front center of the pack for branding purposes. It’s worth noting that this logo tag isn’t made of leather, which is fantastic news for vegan Fjallraven lovers on our team and across the globe. The iconic Fjallraven Arctic Fox emblem appears several times throughout the backpack, but nothing too flashy.
Okay, enough with the appearances. Let’s start with one of the pack’s best features: the outside fabric.
Fjallraven is renowned for its G-1000 fabric, but the Ulvo 23 is composed of a new material called Bergshell (which is sewn into the bag’s bottom front). Bergshell is a 400D nylon made up of two kinds of yarn: air-textured and regular filament yarn.
These yarns, without getting too technical, work nicely together. The abrasion resistance of air-textured yarn is excellent, but the tear strength is poor. Ordinary filament yarn, on the other hand, is the polar opposite. As a result, Bergshell is tear and abrasion-resistant. Science, indeed!
Bergshell is also very soft to the touch, with a flat ripstop structure and a beautiful matte finish. Unfortunately, the Ulvo 23 is so weak that we’ve caught ourselves caressing it on many occasions (is that weird?).
It’s also waterproof. Our gear reviewer’s senses tingle when he hears waterproof, so let’s dissect Fjallraven’s claim. The Bergshell fabric, which includes a TPU laminate, is waterproof to a depth of 10,000mm. 10,000mm is a good rating, which means this fabric is pretty water-resistant and will protect your belongings from the worst weather—snow, rain, ice, and so forth. However, we do not suggest bringing this bag to scuba diving.
Ulvo 23 Backpack Zippers by Fjallraven
Partially because the pack isn’t waterproof, despite being very water-resistant, thanks to the Bergshell fabric’s covered seams and flaps that protect the zippers, most of us need water resistance. We’ve been out and about with the Ulvo 23 in the rain and are pleased to report that everything within the bag has remained dry.
Bergshell is also composed of 31% recycled nylon, which is excellent news for all eco-warriors.
The materials are completed with YKK zippers and Woojin buckles, both of which should endure a long time.
Components from Outside
Let’s start with the straps, one of the essential aspects of a backpack. The straps are primarily comfy. The belts conform to the body, are nicely cushioned, and include the breathable mesh, so we say mainly. However, they’re too near to the top.
This narrowness may cause the pack to be too tight on your shoulders and neck, which affects some body types more than others (you’ll feel it more if you have broad shoulders). You can relax the straps a little to assist with this, but it won’t eliminate the problem. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it’s worth mentioning.
The rear panel is stunning. It features the same cushioned mesh as the straps and is structured. It’s also quite breathable thanks to the air passages. We haven’t had any problems with the swamp back, although it is on the more minor, lighter part of the backpack spectrum. Plus, it’s been cooling down in Michigan since this review. Your experience may differ if you’re transporting your rock collection across the Australian outback.
At the bottom of the pack, there’s a tiny loop for attaching bike lights. It’s ideal for late-night walks or rides. There’s also a top handle so you may hang it up anytime you like, as well as a loop on each shoulder strap for external carrying.
Compression straps are also included, which may be used to extend or compress the main compartment’s useable capacity without interfering with the zipper. To be honest, we haven’t utilized the compression straps much—the bag doesn’t compress tiny enough to be packable, and it doesn’t expand much more when unbuckled—but they’re there if you want to use them. And whether you utilize the strap keepers or not, they guarantee that everything looks good.
The two stretchable water-bottle compartments are a hit. These compartments are excellent for storing not just water bottles and travel coffee cups, but also any other things that don’t fit in one of the other pockets. We put it to the test with an apple, a computer, and phone chargers, as well as some cash. You may be as creative as you want here, but keep in mind that 1) they aren’t safe and are essentially a pickpocket’s dream pocket, and 2) they aren’t waterproof like the other two pockets.
Last but not least, there’s the sternum strap. It’s very simple to adjust—just slide it down the track. It is also safe. Unlike some other adjustable sternum straps, this one is unlikely to be misplaced. It also works well since it is elastomeric for comfort and includes a strap keeper for neatness.
Inside the Bundle
The Fjallraven Ulvo 23 is one of the most basic packs we’ve tried, which is appropriate given its internal capacity of just 23L. Those of you who prefer to have everything in its place will be disappointed by the absence of pockets and internal organizing.
On this pack, there are just two pockets (not including the two water bottle pockets).
Fjallraven Ulvo 23 Backpack with Front Pocket Access Fjallraven Ulvo 23 Backpack with Front Pocket Access. When you swing the bag forward off your right shoulder, the front pocket features a vertical opening that is simple to reach. There is no additional structure inside it. Smaller notebooks may be kept here, but they must be angled to suit the aperture (the opening is noticeably shorter than the compartment itself). We also stored our money and keys in this location.
Also, since this pocket is vertically oriented, depending on what you put in it, it may end up in a tangle at the bottom. Although we haven’t found this to be a significant problem (we’ve just used it for a notepad, wallet, and keys), vertical pockets are controversial for a reason. You are the one who knows whether or not something will irritate you. We believe a key leash would have been a great addition.
Remember how we mentioned the roll-top design of this pack earlier? Apart from the fact that it has a roll-top, it also lacks this vertical pocket. Instead, one of the water bottle compartments features a smaller zipped compartment. We haven’t tried this pack, so we can’t comment on it, but it’s something to keep in mind if you’re thinking about buying it.
The main compartment, which is comparable to the EVERGOODS CHZ22, features a half-zip, horseshoe-style opening. We’re not big lovers of this opening since it’s a hassle to pull the zipper around the corners. It’s sluggish and may get stuck on sometimes. However, this is a minor quibble.
If you want any of the water resistance we spoke about before, make sure to pull the cloth fully over the zipper.
A cushioned laptop sleeve rests against the structural rear of the bag on the inside. It can hold up to a 15-inch laptop. We tested it using a laptop that wasn’t in a case, but we suggest you don’t live on the edge and invest in a laptop sleeve for further security. Unless Danger is your middle name as well…
A tiny zippered mesh pocket and two pen sleeves are also included. We’ve mostly used the first for headphones and the second for, well, pens. We realize this isn’t very inventive.
The remainder of the room is yours to do as you want. If you use a lot of tiny goods in your everyday life, such as electronic gadgets and other similar products, you’ll want to invest in an accessory bag or two.
There is a lot of additional space at the top of the bag due to the way it closes. This is something we don’t use very often, but it does enable you to quickly put a big sweatshirt or jacket inside. It also gives the pack the rounded shape we love (although, on occasion, it can look slightly reminiscent of a duckbill).
Testing & Durability
We’ve been using the Fjallraven Ulvo 23 for a month as a daily driver in Detroit, Michigan, and on a trip to San Francisco, California, as we stated at the start of this review. And, in case you didn’t notice, we’ve been enjoying it.
It’s complex where it needs to be (durable materials) and simple where it needs to be (interior arrangement). It isn’t a packable daypack, so it won’t fit in a one-bag travel backpack and be carried around the world—it will take up too much room. It is, nevertheless, an excellent companion for EDC, day excursions, and short treks. Even for short travels, it’s a bit small—we tried it—but if you’re a diehard minimalist, you’ll be able to make it work.
And, as we’ve come to expect from Fjallraven, everything seems to be in excellent shape in terms of durability.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are fjallraven backpacks so expensive?
The price for fjallraven backpacks is high because they are made to last.
Is the fjallraven backpack worth it?
The fjallraven backpack is a very popular and well-loved backpack. It’s not the cheapest, but it is worth every penny if you’re looking for a quality bag that will last you many years.
What is so special about fjallraven?
Fjallraven is a Swedish outdoor clothing company that has been around since the 1930s. It’s known for its high-quality, durable products.
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