A young Åke Nordin follows his dream of creating an outdoor gear company that makes nature accessible to all. Based out of his small basement in Örnsköldsvik in Sweden, he starts Fjällräven and releases the brand’s first product, an aluminium framed backpack that is lighter yet stronger than anything currently available.
Fjällräven’s backpacks become increasingly popular after Swedish parliament pass a law that gives four weeks of statutory holiday, prompting more people to take up outdoor pursuits like hiking and mountaineering.
Nordin releases the ‘Thermo Tent’, the first of many Fjällräven tents to come. The two layer construction uses a strong outer skin to repel rain and an inner tent to manage condensation. Designed to make soggy camping gear a thing of the past, the tent becomes popular with adventurers and trekkers everywhere who can now wake up dry and happy with no more damp sleeping bags.
Åke Nordin establishes the Gold Fox, an honorary title awarded to individuals who have contributed significantly to the development of outdoor life. A long serving member of the Swedish Association of Promotion of Outdoor Life’s winter mountain school and high elevation expeditions, Per-Åke Sjöman, is first to be given the title, which continues to be awarded today.
The Nordic Greenland expedition is supplied with Fjällräven equipment including custom tents that are based on designs by Per-Åke Sjöman. Made from mesh nylon, the models are larger than normal mountain tents in order to “avoid unnecessary psychological wear on each other”. The tents prove to be a huge success, as does the expedition.
Fjällräven release its first jacket, the G-1000 ‘Greenland Jacket’. Initially developed as a climbing jacket in collaboration with members of the Greenland Expedition team, the model is further refined with a wind and rain-repellent wax finish and becomes popular with a wide range of outdoor enthusiasts.
The first trouser model from Fjällräven launches and quickly becomes a favourite among outdoor enthusiasts. Their characteristics mean they’re the perfect choice for mountains tracks as well as day-to-day outdoor life.
As a growing company, Fjällräven takes a leap out of Åke Nordin’s cellar into a factory purpose built for manufacturing tents and backpacks on an industrial estate just outside Örnsköldsvik. The building remains Fjällräven’s head office even today.
Fjällräven launches the follow up to its popular Arctic sleeping bag, named HAP (High Alpine Polar). Developed for broader appeal than just the pro-expedition market, the HAP bag becomes popular with a wide range of outdoor enthusiasts.
After several years developing an idea by Åke Nordin for a jacket in which it’s impossible to freeze, Fjällräven release the legendary Expedition Down jacket. Filled with goose down and designed to block cold winds, counteract heat loss and prevent compression when carrying a backpack, the Expedition Down becomes an instant classic and remains a core product within the Fjällräven range today.
The Gyro backpack model releases. Using innovative articulated suspension, the model is designed to provide the wearer with increased movement and control of the pack, and proves to be very popular for Fjällräven.
The classic Fjällräven Raven jacket launches. This light yet tough model is designed to be versatile enough to suit a range of conditions and environments and is great for layering.
Fjällräven launches the iconic Kånken bag. Originally designed to tackle the issue of back strain in school children caused by the shoulder bags they were using at the time, the Kånken has since become a Swedish design classic.
The first in a series of special weeks for outdoor novices who are curious to experience the outdoor life is organised by Fjällräven, with the slogan “For those who don’t know the mountains, but want to”. The family friendly trips are led by expert guides and see participants borrowing Fjällräven equipment, with the aim of expanding interest in an outdoor lifestyle.
Fjällräven enters a transitional period which lasts for a decade and sees the company float on the stock exchange. A change in management results in an expanded product line, however there is a loss in focus on the core products for which the brand is famous, as the company looks to enter the ski-wear market.
Fjällräven release the Fält Jacket, developed in collaboration with Swedish Defence survival school founder Lars Fält. Designed to survive the toughest environments, the jacket is created using Fjällräven’s classic G-1000 material. The brand’s famous Akka tent also launches for the first time.
The first flagship store opens in Stockholm and Fjällräven launches its ‘Save the Arctic Fox’ project. The project which continues to this day aims to save the Scandinavian Arctic fox, a species threatened with extinction. The company also launches a range of eco-friendly products which carry a green Arctic fox logo.
The first concept store outside Scandinavia opens in central Amsterdam and becomes famous in the city for its mix of traditional Nordic design and eccentric features, like the stuffed elk which stands outside.
The inaugral Fjällräven Polar takes place. This dog sled challenge is aimed at ‘normal people’ and takes place in the Scandinavian Arctic. Participants are supplied with Fjällräven equipment and coached by Fjällräven’s pro-team. The competition showcases the fact anyone can experience great winter adventures with the correct equipment and preparation, and enables Fjällräven to test their latest products.
Fjällräven launches the Vidda trouser line, which quickly becomes incredibly popular among outdoor enthusiasts due to the strong G-1000 material, tough construction and range of outdoor focused features.
Fjällräven acquires the Swedish outdoor clothing and equipment retails chains Friluftsbolaget and Naturkompaniet, as well as the Norwegian Høyfjellsutstyr, gaining a direct channel to retail customers across Scandinavia.
After acquisition of the chains in the previous year, the group name is changed to suit, acquiring the name Fenix Outdoor. Fjällräven therefore belongs to the ‘brands’ business area alongside brands Tierra, Primus and Hanwag.
The first Fjällräven Classic takes place and sees participants complete a 110km long trek goes along Kungsleden in Lapland. Open to anyone and designed as a celebration of the outdoors, the Classic has since grown with multiple events taking place each year in places such as Sweden, the USA and Hong Kong.
The timeless design classic that is the Fjällräven Expedition Down receives legal copyright protection, in accordance with the Swedish Act on Copyright in Literary and Artistic Works.
The Kånken becomes the world's first climate compensated backpack, with Fjällräven using renewable energy projects that are observed by the UN and certified in accordance with Gold Standard; an independent quality label that is openly supported by Greenpeace and WWF. Fjällräven also releases the award-winning Kajka backpack, which is an instant hit with the worldwide trekking community.
Fjällräven is named as the most popular brand in Sweden, beating giants such as Nike, Levi’s and Calvin Klein, and being recognised by over 95% of the Swedish population. Fjällräven also re-launches the Akka tent series, an updated version of the 1992 original. The new Akka line is critically acclaimed and wins a host of awards including ‘Best Outdoor Product’.
Fjällräven launches its waterproof Eco-Shell collection including the Eco-Trail jacket which wins an SOA Sustainability Award. The collection is made from a brand new fabric developed in collaboration with Japanese material specialist Teijin. Eco-Shell is made from recycled and recyclable polyester, is fluorocarbon-free and climate compensated. Fjällräven also releases the Luhkka, a water-resistant cape designed in collaboration with reindeer herder Nils-Anders Blind.
The Fjällräven Numbers line launches. The 13 product system is designed to be mixed and matched for use in any climate, and consists of clothes that are designed specifically to have a long lifespan and low environmental impact.
The popular Kajka backpack receives an upgrade, with the introduction of a new, environmentally friendly and exciting frame design. The use of laminated Finnish birch reduces the environmental impact of the frame by 90%, yet has the same strengths as aluminium.
Fjällräven releases the Re-Kånken, an updated version of the classic Kånken bag that is constructed from polyester made completely from recycled plastic bottles.
Fjällräven collaborates with fellow Swedish brand ACNE Studios to release a collection of reinterpreted classic Fjällräven products, including a special edition of the Expedition Down jacket.
Fjällräven launches The Arctic Fox initiative to support projects that give back to nature. Limited edition Kånken Art backpacks are also revealed, featuring fabric designs by Swedish artists.