Oi Polloi

The Fjällräven Greenland Jacket

Published: Mon Mar 03 2014

This was originally posted in March 2012, but we thought we’d let it see the light of day once again.

Sweden, once the home of those famous fans of plundering and pillaging, the Vikings, is steeped in folk-lore and fables. But perhaps one of the most interesting stories from the Nordic region is the tale of the Fjällräven Greenland Jacket.

Dig if you will this picture – it’s the mid 60’s, Elvis’s hips are still swaying, as of yet the moon is still unchartered territory and a sleazy spy named Bond is bedding Russian beauties all in the name of Her Majesty’s Secret Service. But for the world of outdoor wear, things weren’t so great – clothes were heavy, bulky and generally pretty rubbish – all until a Swede by the name of Åke Nordin from a company called Fjällräven stepped up to the outdoor plate.

After an expedition to Greenland, in which a thermal tent designed by Åke went down a bloody treat, the Swedish outdoor world was alight with discussions about how to make a decent jacket. Taking his mind off jacket design, Åke set out to clear his head with a stride in the hills when out of the corner of his eye he saw it – a roll of extra-durable tent fabric. Slowly and methodically the cogs started turning – could this fabric which he’d deemed too thick for a tent be used to make a jacket?

Without a moment to lose our protagonist threw the fabric onto the floor, drew out the outline of a jacket, dusted off his grandfather’s tailoring scissors and set to work.

After a whirlwind of fabric and sewing machines the jacket was made – tough and quick to dry, this was the jacket that Åke and his climbing mates had been after, but what if he could make it fully waterproof as well?

Casting his mind over those relaxed days at his local ski-jump in his hometown of Örnsköldsvik, he remembered how he and his friends would wax the back of their trouser legs to stop getting wet whilst waiting to throw themselves off a massive jump. The cogs turned again and before you could say “very water resistant,” he’d mixed up some beeswax and paraffin and was smearing it on the jacket with his wife’s hairdryer.

The Fjällräven Greenland Jacket and the G1000 fabric was born – quickly becoming a favourite for climbers, hikers and pretty much anyone who goes outside sometimes. Forty-five years since our heart-warming fable took place; the Greenland is a shop favourite, and is up there with Volvo, Ikea and ABBA as one of Sweden’s greatest exports.

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