In this Our Changing Climate environmental video essay, I look at why Fjällräven is so expensive. Specifically, I look at the sustainability and environmentally-friendly aspects of products like Kånken backpack in order to understand whether Fjällräven is worth the price. In the end, the price really comes down to the company’s environmental and workplace ethics, the quality of its materials, and the upcharge a brand can incur.
Transcript provided by YouTube:
The history of Fjallraven begins a lot like most other outdoor apparel company origin
stories: with a young adventurer unsatisfied with their gear.
In this case, the adventurer is a twenty-something Swede named Ake Nordin, who was frustrated
with the clunky wooden backpacking frames of an older generation.
And so in 1960, nestled in a town in Sweden’s High Coast, Ake began to tinker with alternative
designs, eventually creating what became his first aluminum framed backpack.
Ake sold this first backpack and the Fjallraven brand was born.
Soon after, outdoor enthusiasts exploded onto the scene in the 1970s, and as a result, Fjallraven
became a mainstay in the Swedish outdoor community.
Slowly, as their famous Greenland Jacket gave way to other popular gear like the Kanken
backpack, the company transformed into a global outdoor brand.
And at the core of the Fjallraven lies a deep commitment to the natural world.
Much like its counterpart Patagonia, Fjallraven sells high-quality adventure gear at sometimes
jaw-dropping price points.
But, for both, this price point is often justified by their ethics and attention to quality.
So, is Fjallraven actually an eco-conscious company like they claim?
And does that justify their price?
Fjallraven’s approach to sustainability really started 25 years ago, in 1994, with
the arctic fox, which just so happens to be the logo of their company and the English
translation of Fjallraven.
As climate change began to drastically alter the Scandinavian habitat, these cute little
animals began to disappear from the landscape, and by 1994 there were between 40-80 arctic
foxes left in Scandinavia.
So, Fjallraven did the only thing they thought they could. They partnered up with the EU and sponsored research and conservation efforts
for the arctic fox.
Since then the fox’s numbers have climbed to over 200!
Although this could be seen as a marketing ploy, these values are also central to the
creation of their product line.
Especially now, as Fjallraven pours its attention into creating products like the Re-Kanken.
A completely environmentally-friendly overhaul of the wildly popular Kanken backpack.
The Re-Kanken is woven from a single yarn made of 11 plastic bottles, which allows the
backpack to eventually be recycled at the end of its use.
Fjallraven was also the first to utilize the SpinDye process in their production line,
which allows pigment to seep into threads by spinning and dying them simultaneously.
Apparently, this process uses 75% less water, 67% fewer chemicals and 39% less energy.
And now, Fjallraven is transitioning that production technique to its other products.
In addition, it’s removed PFCs, a chemical pollutant used to waterproof outdoor gear,
from all of its apparel, and drafted a Code of Conduct for suppliers that prioritize animal
welfare, workers rights, and sound environmental practices.
So, Fjallraven is undoubtedly doing a lot to minimize their environmental impact, but
they are still a for-profit company.
At the end of the day, they’re trying to make money.
So do their ethical actions justify their product’s price?
When you walk into a typical Fjallraven store, you’re confronted with two things, well-made
products, and a big price tag.
Flip over the tag for a bag like the Re-Kanken and you’ll find a large 90 next to the dollar
Or if you’re looking to buy one of their Greenland down jackets you’ll be out 500
Unfortunately, Fjallraven doesn’t publicly disclose how much they spend on materials
and labor, so it’s hard to say exactly how much of a profit they are making.
Their price point seems to be guided by a combination of the cost of quality long-lasting
materials, their commitment to the environment, and also the upcharge that a recognized brand
In my opinion, if you are looking for new gear and you have enough money to spare, Fjallraven
is a good bet because it’s firmly committed itself as an industry leader in eco-conscious
The unfortunate truth is that it takes more time, effort, and money to create socially
responsible and environmentally ethical apparel, and Fjallraven is doing what it can be given
the restraints of an unsustainable industry.
But really, as I talked about in my Patagonia video, the most eco-friendly and cheapest
thing you could do would be to buy used gear or better yet to not buy at all.
This post was previously published on YouTube.
What’s your take? Comment below or write a response and submit to us your own point of view or reaction here at the red box, below, which links to our submissions portal.
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