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Örnsköldsvik is a small town in the north of Sweden with a population just shy of 30,000 people. The town is perhaps most famous for its’ production of world-famous ice hockey players – which is completely disproportionate to its’ size. It also happens to be the home, and birthplace, of Fjällräven.
It was here, set against the backdrop of the area of Baltic coastline known as the high coast, that Åke Nordin developed the first backpack frame that laid the foundation for the company.
To understand Fjällräven, and why they do things the way they do, Åke Nordin is a good place to start. In 1950 Åke, a scout who loved spending time outdoors, had just finished his military education at the extremely demanding FJS Parachute Ranger School in Karlsborg.
His experience at the time was that there was a need for functional and hard-wearing outdoor equipment. Not even the most elite military unit in the country was using equipment up to the standards you would expect. From the family one bedroom apartment Åke started out rectifying the issue – and since the company he founded has continued in the same style.
To this day, the heritage from those early days remain strong. Being founded by an elite outdoorsman, a key aspect throughout Fjällrävens product development is that their products should be easy and safe to use in extreme conditions – where poor functionality can be downright dangerous.
However, it’d be wrong to say that these products are only suitable for the high-end users. If you ask Fjällräven themselves, their aim is to produce equipment that allows people to spend more time outdoors. That can mean anything from the extreme to general outdoor use. No matter the intended use, the products should always be able to be used repeatedly over years spent enjoying the outdoors.
In Scandinavian countries, the outdoors is part of the culture and is involved in most people’s everyday life in some way or another. It is only natural that these cultural values influence the manufacturers as well. In fact, if your company is made up of people who have been brought up with this view of the outdoors it would probably be impossible not to be. The result is that while products need to be functional, safe, and easy to use there is also an element of timeless style needed. After all, if you are going to be wearing your clothing regularly the fact that it looks good doesn’t hurt. That’s not to say that Fjällräven is at the mercy of fluctuating trends. Quite the opposite actually.
A cornerstone of Scandinavian outdoor culture is to leave no trace behind. It is an important concept for anyone that spends time outdoors, and wants to preserve it for future generations to enjoy as well. This is obviously a challenge for outdoor clothing manufacturers. Let’s face it – producing outdoor clothing will never be good for the environment. However, while you will never be able to completely erase the footprint made, there are things you can do to limit the size of it. Here Scandinavians tend to take a quite pragmatic approach – durable products that last longer are better for the environment than fashion pieces that are irrelevant after a single season.
That’s why you’ll find that most Fjällräven products, as with many Scandinavian brands, offer design, functionality, and durability that will allow them to be used year after year. Not only is that good for the environment – in the long run it is also good for your wallet as well.
These roots in the elite regiments of the Swedish military blended with the everyday outdoor culture so typical in Scandinavia, means that Fjällräven embodies a lot of what we are all about at Nordic Outdoor. Without compromising on comfort and functionality the brand offers something for everyone. Simply put, the products offer the chance to spend more time outdoors – no matter how you spend that time.
If you want to know more about Fjällräven, and how they do things, stop by our event in our new shop in Glasgow on March 29th where Ross Bainbridge, Fjällrävens UK representative, will discuss how the idea of ‘friluftsliv’ influences their products. As a Scot with years of experience of working for a Scandinavian brand, Ross is ideally placed to discuss why quality clothing should be a must, not just for the elite outdoorsmen, but for everyone spending time outside in the British climate.
Also speaking at the event will be Will Copestake, voted ‘Young Adventurer of the Year’ in 2015.
Find out more here!