Simplify! Förenkla Backpack from IKEA

Originally published on August 29th, 2016, at
Republished at on March 15th, 2017.
Added to on Octbober 30th, 2017. (Footnotes were re-formatted, too! Yeesh!)

The best backpack I’ve ever owned was one that was “free” from Marlboro, bought with Marlboro Miles — UPC codes from Marlboro cigarette packs — back in the ‘90s. When I say that it was the “best backpack”, what I mean was that its design was well-suited to my needs. It had a big main compartment which opened from the top, secured by an adjustable cord and a buckling top flap. It had significant padding on the back and straps. It had an insulated beverage pocket on one side and a snap-top pocket on the other. It even had a decent-sized zipper pocket on the front, with a smaller, mesh pocket attached.

I loved that backpack. It accompanied me to every college-level lecture I attended, and was a perfect grocery-getter! But fast forward a decade or so and I would end up sacrificing that backpack to something that I loved more.

I haven’t replaced it, despite the ready availability of packs just like it on eBay. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I haven’t smoked in four years. Maybe it’s because of the details of my original pack’s sacrifice. Or maybe I just don’t trust eBay.

Regardless of the reason, I’ve spent the past couple of years using either tiny bags on strings or a sleek and modern laptop bag, instead. I don’t hate the laptop bag. It’s nice. But WTF? I don’t even own a laptop.

I’m a desktop kind of girl.

I’m a desktop computer and big, wide-open, top-loading backpack kind of girl.

And I found my new, second-favorite backpack this weekend at IKEA Costa Mesa.

Like about half of our IKEA purchases, it was not something that the wife and I were looking for. We didn’t know it existed until we saw it in the store, and we only spotted it there because it was right by the door which presented our quickest path to get to the things we were actually there to buy.

This particular style of Förenkla backpack1 still has the word “New” on its page at IKEA US, and the current IKEA Family member price is $29.99 (compared to a regular price of $37.99). It has a larger compartment than my old Marlboro pack had2, with a rollover top that secures via D-rings, sturdy webbing, and a bolt snap. Two zippers allow side access to this large compartment, which includes a see-through ID slot and a zippered, mesh, inner pocket. The straps and back are padded enough to be comfortable. There are deep, narrow, non-fastening pockets on each side of the exterior, a zippered pocket (with interior compartments and elastic pen loops) on the front, and an expandable, double-zipped compartment on the bottom.

This is a great, smoke-free, trauma-free replacement for my old Marlboro pack, and it’s already done something my beloved old pack never got the opportunity to do: It hauled Bestå3 parts — drawers, drawer rails, hinges, legs, cabinet doors, and push-to-open hardware — and five Tjena boxes4 from checkout to the Mazda and from the Mazda to our condo, freeing my hands to carry other, larger, heavier parts I’d spend hours building, sweating and stressing over.

In Swedish, “förenkla” means to simplify, and boy, does this backpack ever do that!

Put things in big bag! Put bag on back! Done!

Its uncluttered, simple design is exactly what I had been looking for, and the price was too good to pass up. This is the perfect heavy hauler for my next walking trip to Von’s or Anaheim Central Library.

If you’re in the market for a new casual hauler, and don’t mind the size5, this is a great pack at a great price! What it lacks in style, it more than makes up for in function.6

1. IKEA Article Number: 203.135.71

2. Its capacity is listed as 35l, or nine gallons.

3. Want to know how to make that “a” with the ring on top? On your Mac keyboard, press and hold alt/option, then press “a”. The “ö” in “Förenkla” is made by holding alt/option while typing “u”, then releasing before typing “o”.

3. IKEA Article Number: 602.636.06

4. It’s 22” tall. That’s nearly two feet, y’all.

5. I regret that it only comes in black. Solid black. Backpacks should have red on them, damnit.