Fjällräven Polar 2019 concluded on April 15th, 2019 and each contestant has inspirational stories from this year's experience. Dean Ronzoni, with Leave No Trace, was one of the lucky participants included in this year's roster. This week, we caught up with Dean to hear some behind the scenes stories on his journey with Polar.
I am always truly excited to explore the world and Fjällräven Polar was one of those opportunities I couldn’t pass up. I have attended two of the past three Fjällräven USA classics, and even though backpacking isn’t my go-to activity, I have had a great time every year. I think it’s the people that make the adventure, and Classic is an event that really unites individuals and forms a community. Polar was not any different.
Excited and packed with only a small backpack, I hopped on a plane from Denver, Colorado to Stockholm. Fjällräven Polar here I come! Once arriving at the Stockholm airport, I went to the rendezvous spot where I was immediately greeted by 20+ members of the 26 person Polar Team. They literally swarmed me introducing themselves with incredibly warm smiles, and started spitting out questions eager to know more about me. I was honestly a little overwhelmed as I tried to quickly memorize everyone’s names, country of residence, and some of their background stories. I could already tell this was an experience I wouldn’t soon forget.
Once organized, we bused to the small, quaint Swedish town of Sigtuna. In Sigtuna we were paired up with our bunk-mates and smaller Polar groups. Broken down into groups of four, I was paired with Sian from the UK (my bunk-mate), Lorenzo from Italy, and Ricardo from Portugal. After a little socializing and Fika (Swedish for coffee and cake; we had a lot of Fika over the course of the trip), we met the Fjällräven Polar staff. Every person on the staff was instantly amazing. They were not only friendly and gear experts, but also knowledgeable about surviving in the Arctic.
That afternoon we learned a lot about the Fjällräven brand history and the gear we would be using, and of course the sustainability and ethics story behind the products. I knew quite a bit about the brand’s sustainability story from doing my own research, but when you hear it come directly from Martin Axelhed, the CEO of Fjällräven, you get a sincere sense that Fjällräven is genuinely concerned how their products affect the environment from the top down. The thought and time that goes into how the entire business is run is astounding.
The evening eventually concluded and we were off to bed, though I don’t think I slept much due to my excitement. Our 4:30 am wake-up call for departure to Trompso was ahead of us where we would next learn the ins and outs of winter camping and spend our first night outside.
Stay tuned for the next part of my Polar journey, Part 2.
Director of Corporate Development, Leave No Trace
Images by Nicklas Blom Photography
How To Dress For the Cold
Layering. That is how to dress for the cold. Three to four layers provide protection from the cold, wind, snow and rain and are the quickest and easiest way to adjust your body temperature when out in the wilderness.
As a participant of Fjällräven Polar, you’ll be provided with the necessary essentials like the products below!
Base Layer: The base layer, or first layer, is there to transport moisture away from your skin, keeping you dry and warm. Wool and its synthetic alternatives are the way to go here. Cotton is a no-no when it comes to base layers and underwear.
Middle Layer: The purpose of the middle layer is to absorb moisture from the base layer and provide insulation. If it’s really cold, or you’re not moving about very much, two middle layers or a thicker layer is needed. Again, wool or synthetics are best here.
Outer Layer: This layer should be highly adjustable with zippers and vents to help you control heat and minimize sweating. Its purpose is to resist wind and water as well as keeping the cold out and the warmth from the inner layers in. It also integrates with other layers by releasing moisture. It should protect sensitive areas like your head, throat, wrists, waist and ankles.
Reinforcement Layer: The reinforcement layer is for those times when you’re less active, specifically in the mornings and evenings when you’re not on the sled. This layer should be large enough to pull over your clothes but should squash down into your pack, ready for you to pull out when you need it. Down garments are ideal here.