The outdoor industry is like a huge ocean full of products and brands that even those who work in the trade are sometimes a touch bemused by, let alone the customer! What sets one product or brand apart from the rest? Why does one brand use different materials than another? Well, we have decided to try and unpick a few of these questions a little by periodically dissecting a product or a brand and giving a bit of background and history, as well as relevant pros and cons in order to clear the murk around them.
So lets start with Fjallraven!
Fjallraven was created in 1960 by Ake Nordin simply because he couldn’t find a ruck sack which didn’t hurt his back! So being a handy kind of guy he made his own. It was so good everyone else wanted one and as a result Fjallraven was born. Fjallraven is Swedish for Arctic Fox, hence the instantly recognizable logo. After the success of his rucksack, Ake decided to tackle the issue of condensation in tents, by designing the Thermo Tent. By using a two layer principle the damp was banished!
Thanks to the knowledge of materials gained from his work on tent design, Ake turned his hand to clothing and in 1968 produced the Greenland Jacket, made from a revised and refined tent fabric he called G1000. A cotton/polyester mix which still forms the basis of Fjallraven’s range to this day (with a few tweaks and variations to suit). A couple of years after the Greenland Jacket won acclaim Ake decided to develop trousers to match the success of the Greenland Jacket and in 1970 the Greenland Trousers were born. Again using the remarkable G1000 material.
Anyway lets fast forward! In essence the rest of the history of the brand has been one of continuous development of outdoor gear to enable everyone to get out and enjoy nature, and they have not only produced some of the finest products by combining old and new techniques and materials but have always held environmental sustainability high of their list of priorities.
Ok, now we have dealt with the back ground to Fjallraven, lets look at their materials because in my mind its the materials as well as the build quality that sets Fjallraven apart. Many of their materials have been developed in house and those that haven’t have been cherry picked from some of the finest suppliers in the industry. The list of materials that Fjallraven use is pretty extensive so I will concentrate on their four core materials, what they do best!
G1000 is a blend of 65% polyester and 35% cotton which can be made water repelant by the application of Fjallravens specially blended Greenland Wax (a very easy process). The ability to be selective over where and how much Greenland Wax to use has produced a clothing system which can not only be tailored to the individual person but also to the specific conditions they find themselves in. I for example wax the leg ends, the knees and the seat of my trousers for normal outdoor use, leaving all parts that wont come into contact with damp ground still fully breathable. However, if i know that its going to rain hard then i will wax the rest of the trousers, often to varying degrees dependent on water contact (i tend to wax the front of the trousers more than the back as i mostly walk forward not backwards!!). And as long as you have a heat source (Camp fire or stove), this process can be done out on the hills, making it truly adaptable for the conditions. G1000 is available in a number of forms, namely Original, Silent, Lite and Heavy Duty. The names are pretty descriptive and i think all i need to say is that they are made to suit different applications but all share the G1000 properties. For a guide to the use of Greenland Wax click on the following link:
Not a revolutionary new material I know, but Fjallraven believe that if it does a job better than everything else why change it. Wool is warm even when damp, wicks away moisture, is odour and dirt resistant and can also keep you cool (honestly, it can!!). Fjallraven use a number of different types of wool, each with specific attributes which lend themselves to particular jobs. Now most of us are aware that wool keeps us warm due to its ability to trap warm air next to the body, even when wet. But how on earth can wool keep you cool I hear you ask! Well, its all due to wool’s ability to wick away moisture. As the moisture is drawn away from the body it begins to evaporate from the surface of the fabric, this is termed evaporative cooling (for a liquid to evaporate it requires heat to turn it to a vapour. The heat then dissipates with the vapour). In essence this process naturally happens on our skin when we sweat (sweating cools us!). What wool does is simple facilitate this natural process. As usual Fjallraven do what they can to source their wool sustainably, including using locally sourced and recycled material.
A truly breathable water and wind resistant material which is both made from recycled polyester and uses PFC free impregnation to achieve its goals. The PFC impregnation works in conjunction with a hydrophilic membrane underneath to help sweat escape whilst keeping the rain out. I wont go into the physics of this material but its a cracker and still lives up to Fjallravens eco standards to boot.
For more info on PFC’s and Fjallravens PFC free impregnation click on the following link: http://foxtrail.fjallraven.com/2017/03/11/the-on-going-quest-for-100-pfc-free-eco-shell/?_ga=2.234402206.163160736.1527415595-1806288042.1526831270
Down is a hot topic these days. Consumers have realized that the production of down can be far from kind to the birds that produce it! However, we cant ignore the fact that as an insulation material it is superb! So, what does a company like fjallraven do when faced with ‘the down question’. Well they do what is morally right, seemingly before most companies realized there was an issue! Which means that their down is more ethical than most if not all other brands. in fact they top the ‘Four Paws Cruelty Free Challenge’ a scheme set up to clarify where and how our animal derived materials are produced. if you want to know more about the Four Paws Cruelty Free Challenge please click on the following link http://down.four-paws.org/en/?locale=en_US
Needless to say Fjallraven use great quality down in their garments but if i tried to explain the complexities of down here id still be writing this time next week, so if you want to learn a little more about down click on the following link and have a read: http://foxtrail.fjallraven.com/2017/02/13/get-the-low-down-on-our-down/?_ga=2.169523745.163160736.1527415595-1806288042.1526831270
So to conclude. Fjallraven over the past 58 years have developed an impressive range of clothing and equipment that covers most requirements for the outdoor lifestyle. They have achieved this by combining the best of old technologies and materials with new thinking and fabric development to produce a range which has impressive functionality and longevity, and although Its built for a purpose but manages to look stylish at the same time.