The story began in 1950
In the 1950’s, 14 year-old Åke Nordin from Örnsköldsvik in Northern Sweden spent more time outdoors than indoors. After many long treks in the mountains, Åke decided the backpacks at the time were unsatisfactory and took matters into his own hands by building a wooden frame. This evenly distributed weight across his back so the pack did not end up uneven, pear-shaped, and uncomfortable. It also meant he could carry more weight with ease. Åke’s innovation quickly caught on and in 1960 Fjällräven became the first to commercially make and distribute framed backpacks.
Fjällräven means Arctic Fox in Swedish, honoring the small and highly adaptable predator that lives in the Swedish mountains under the harshest conditions. From the small town of Örnsköldsvik, Fjällräven has now expanded to every corner in the world. The fundamental ideas remain the same; provide functional, durable, and timeless equipment to make the outdoors more enjoyable for all. We continue to find smart, innovative solutions to make every adventure an unforgettable one.
An idea that carried weight
Åke built his first framed backpack in his basement with his mother’s sewing machine. Using strong cotton fabric for the pack, he attached the wooden frame using leather straps and used calfskin for the support straps. Not only was the pack more comfortable and distributed weight evenly, it also increased ventilation between his back and the pack. Soon after, during a trip up North, Åke’s invention caught the attention of the indigenous Sami people who spent weeks at a time high up in the mountains. They asked Åke to build them a backpack and after that a tent. Fjällräven had found its beginning.
The early days
In the 1960’s, most tents were a heavy, single wall of cotton. Synthetic tents leaked or created significant condensation. Åke’s solution was simple; combine a waterproof outer layer and lightweight, ventilated inner layer. Moisture was then released from the inside living area and caught between the outer layer, an ingenious solution for a common problem.
Fjällräven Sleeping Bags
Warmer, lighter, smarter
Åke again revolutionized outdoor products by launching the Fjällräven HAP (High Alpine Polar) sleeping bag in 1975. Fjällräven designers continued his legacy and in the 1970’s began thinking about how people sleep. Most people at the time complained that sleeping bags were tight and confining as most companies focused solely on making the bags smaller and more compact. The Fjällräven team studied pictures of how people slept in sleeping bags and realized that no one lied still. Rather, people were most comfortable with more room to stretch out and move around. After years of tests, the Silhouette sleeping bag was launched in 1989 proving that smarter is sometimes better than smaller.
The first Fjällräven jacket
Outdoor clothing was not always as practical as it is today. This was particularly clear during the Scandinavian Greenland Expedition in 1966 while testing Fjällräven’s revolutionary thermal tent. After the success of the tent and several serious discussions with the expedition team, Åke started considering making a jacket and trousers for the outdoors.
He started this next venture with a roll of extremely durable fabric that was too heavy for his lightweight tents. He placed it on the floor, began to draw, and with his grandfather’s tailoring scissors cut out a jacket silhouette. Returning to his sewing machine, Åke tailored what became the first of Fjällräven’s now extensive G-1000 outerwear collection, the Greenland Jacket. Named after his influential Greenland expedition, the jacket remains as popular and functional today as it was in 1966.
The tradition continues
The need for durable expedition clothing accelerated the development of Fjällräven clothing. Soon, mountaineers, fishers, hunters, and all outdoor enthusiasts were enjoying more time in nature, regardless of weather conditions, thanks to Fjällräven clothing. Our G-1000® fabric (a strong cotton/polyester blend) is today one of the world’s most popular outdoor fabrics. Greenland Jackets have been passed on from generation to generation and will be for years to come.