For me, Vans Fortnight was the first backpack that really made me feel like I had a backpack that was both practical and stylish. The price was set at about 100 € which was quite a lot for a conventional brand like Vans. But since it was completely black, made from durable materials and having a trendy rolltop opening, I decided to give it a try.
Another important reason was its size. It has a volume about 30 liters. In case you need more, it can expand itself to 41 liters which is really enough for five days of adventure. And the experience was so surprising that despite it’s not being sold anymore, I’ve decided to write a review about it.
I hope you’ll find it useful when you buy a different backpack for yourself.
Well-organized backpack for daily use
First and foremost, I really like the layout of the backpack. Not many people I know would like the main compartment to be one big empty space. Me neither. But this backpack features many extra pockets outside the main compartment, and so it makes sense.
There is a laptop sleeve in the back and two closed side pockets. Each side pocket is big enough to carry a half-liter bottle (like this one from Sigg). In the front, there are several pockets to organize your EDC (everyday carry). The top pocket is perfect for glasses or a small notebook; the front one is best used for stuff you don’t want to loose. If you unbuckle it, you’ll find a pen holder, two small pockets I use for business cards and one netted pocket that’s perfect for earphones.
And if you’re a skateboarder, it can hold your deck. But as usual, if you have a skateboard tied there, you won’t be able to carry any other stuff. Also, there is a danger that the griptape of the skateboard will scratch everything. So not much fun with ollies.
On the bottom, there is a pair of straps that can carry a tripod or a roll mat. On one side, there is also a small pocket that’s quite hidden, and so it’s perfect for stuff you want to be stored safely (I used it for car keys). On the other side, there are some snap-hook holders. You’ll find other holders on the shoulder straps. I used it for my keys, same as I did with Braasi rolltop backpack.
Comfortable shoulder straps even with heavier loads
Many of the urban backpacks that let you carry a bigger load don’t have sufficiently wide shoulder straps. This is not the case here. Unless you carry more than about twelve kilos (and it’s possible, I tried it), it’s really comfortable. There’s also a sternum strap that helps a lot. I addition, you’ll find a not-very-comfortable convertible waist strap.
Three years of usage proved its durability
Fortnight is one of the most durable backpacks I’ve ever had. And as was the case with Braasi rolltop, I’ve really used it carelessly. It’s a bit damaged now (as I describe below), but I still find it durable. The main materials used are 100% polyester fabric for the inner parts and the 600D TPE-backed/tarpaulin fabric for the outer. Even the components that are made of plastics worked really well – none of them broke.
Minimalist look matches the practicality
I also love its minimalist and utilitarian look. There were several color options but the black version is far better than the grey, brown or khaki ones. The only other color is bright red, used for inside pockets. Also, the subtle display of the “Of the wall” logo fits my personal preference.
There was only a little I didn’t like
Regarding the cons, I try to focus on those that are not obvious. The first thing that took me about a year to discover is the coarse material of the back padding (I addressed this issue in the Looking for a unicorn article). When I had the backpack on my back all day, I found my T-shirts damaged. It really sucked.
Second, the back part would deserve a better treatment. It lacks any firm construction or at least a padding. It’s really an issue when you want both to have a big backpack and to carry a laptop. Even though my previous Toshiba Satellite laptop was of a shitty quality, carrying it in the backpack was the main reason why it was almost destroyed.
Third, the majority of rolltop backpacks are difficult to open but some of them are a real pain in the ass. There are two straps that are difficult to grab even if you use both hands. As I try to choose accessories and gadgets that can be used mostly by one hand (see the review of Contigo bottles), it is a bit frustrating.
Finally, after three years of active usage, the rubber top got quite cracked. It doesn’t limit the functionality but it’s quite ugly. But this part is used at least ten times per day, so you probably wouldn’t expect that to be the case (still, have in mind that this is a 100€ conventional backpack).
You can’t buy it and Vans doesn’t make a similar backpack anymore
If I take into consideration both the pros and the cons, I really don’t get why Vans doesn’t offer similar backpacks anymore. Making backpacks that are technically near-to-perfect is very demanding. So maybe Vans just decided not to pursue its luck in the backpack product category (I heard this is also the case with Horsefeathers brand).
Even if Fortnight is not 100% perfect, it deeply shaped my backpack routines. It may sound like I’m exaggerating but it influenced the way I live. If you’re looking for this type of backpack, you won’t make a mistake if it has features like this one by Vans.
Vans Fortnight is a modern and durable mid-range backpack that really surprises with its functionality. You will mostly enjoy the backpack on few days trips in the city as I did during many of my trips (like Berlin, Malmö and Copenhagen in 4 days). The only problem is that you can’t buy it anymore and Vans doesn’t offer any substitution. If you are looking for anything similar, I would recommend that you look at the Burton backpacks (Kilo, Shred Scout and especially my favorite Traverse Travel Pack).