- Buyer's Guide
14 Scandinavian Brands You Should Know
When you think of Scandinavia, commonly known brands tend to crop up. The likes of Fjällräven and Sandqvist. Thule, Mismo or Rains. But dig a little deeper and you’ll discover a goldmine of first-rate brands making world-class gear. You see, the small cluster of countries set to the north of Europe is blessed by some of the world’s wildest terrain. A thriving outdoor scene that is only matched by an arguably even more thriving fashion and design scene. And that combination of fashion and design and the need for gear to laugh in the face of Nordic storms, makes for a melting pot of vibes – and exceptional brands you should definitely know about…
Getting outdoors is a chosen pastime enjoyed by many today. But skip back over a century and it was an unavoidable reality for Wiktor Haglöf. A carpenter by trade and the son of a forester, Wiktor grew up in an outdoor lifestyle – and not always an easy one. So he decided to create a company that would help others living and working in the outdoors, making life just that little bit easier for people who had to endure the elements and harsh environments by necessity. Wiktor started making tough and reliable backpacks by hand to help local workers transport tools. An endeavour that quickly expanded into large-scale production and branched out into other outdoor gear including clothing and footwear (even supplying gear to the military in WWII). Haglöfs was founded in 1914 and in 1955 Wiktor handed over the running of the now well established brand to his sons. In 1975 the brand was sold and transitioned from a family-owned business into a global name in technical gear for the outdoors. A name that continues to maintain its position at the forefront of Swedish outdoor gear. Haglöfs focuses on high-quality, functional, durable gear that caters to a range of outdoor pursuits and end users, from weekend warriors to expedition explorers and more. Responsible and sustainable manufacturing is also key in their design process, from the materials and manufacturing working conditions, to product care and repair.
Halite have been flying under the radar in the carry world. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t been busy. And we suspect this Norwegian brand is only going to grow in popularity as people embrace their ruggedly functional and adaptable gear. Founded by ex-military personnel with backgrounds in special operations who teamed up with highly experienced designers in the outdoor, expedition and climbing spheres, the brand is grounded in practical, reliable and hard-wearing gear. Formerly under the name Piteraq Hardware, the brand supplies military and expedition-ready gear that has been used in everything from maritime operations to demanding Himalayan climbing. And the real beauty? Its versatile, understated nature makes this gear equally well suited to civilian adventure travel and outdoor excursions too.
Norrøna has an extensive history dating back to 1929 when Jørgen Jørgensen founded the company with the goal to make top-notch outdoor products. The brand grew and developed over the years, welcoming a range of gear including backpacks, tents, clothing and sleeping bags. And they introduced influential industry benchmarks. In 1972 they launched the Ravneskar, the first tunnel tent with front and rear openings. In 1977 they became the first European company to use Gore-Tex, creating a prototype Gore-Tex jacket. Their gear has been tested and used in extreme environments including Mount Everest and the North and South Pole. nd today the brand embraces what they call a Loaded minimalism™ approach to design, making quality products as clean as possible while ensuring all critical elements are present. Dedicated to functionality, innovation and a love of the outdoors, Norrøna caters to a wide range of niches including hiking, skiing, mountaineering, mountain biking, surfing and hunting.
Few brands have shaped the carry world to the extent Bergans of Norway has. Why, you may ask? In 1908 brand founder Ole F. Bergan created and patented the Bergans Meis rucksack, the grandfather of modern-day backpacks. The design initially included a wooden frame and soft rucksack, later altered to incorporate a tubular steel frame. A design that would go on to influence countless other manufacturers and which was used by the likes of Roald Amundsen and Robert F. Scott. The brand’s gear has been used extensively in polar expeditions throughout its long history. A history full of development and innovation across multiple niches, from bags and clothing to tents, knives and skiing equipment. And which ultimately has led to Bergans becoming one of the industry’s leading outdoor technical gear brands. Influenced greatly by the Norwegian landscape and the challenging needs of outdoor adventurers, Bergans is also committed to sustainable, responsible business practices, from minimized packaging that can be safely recycled, to striving towards the use of sustainable raw materials and bluesign® approved fabrics across the majority of their products.
Founded in 2004, Norse Projects is a Copenhagen-based design studio and brand. With a foundation in high-end streetwear and footwear, the Danish brand embraces contemporary yet timeless design, innovation and functionality. The brand’s inspiration ranges from architecture to Scandinavian landscapes and weather. Their creations include packable jackets, amazing Gore-Tex shells, as well as collaborations with big industry names including adidas, New Balance and Porter. If you’re intro streetwear, this guys should be on your radar.
Tretorn’s history extends as far back as 1891 when the Swedish brand was founded by Johan Dunker. And it’s an incredibly varied history that has seen the brand create everything from galoshes and rubber boots to tennis balls and tennis shoes. As varied as their product offerings were, the brand was also forward-thinking when it came to their employees, becoming one of the first employers to offer free health care and on-site childcare. And while they may be the world’s second oldest sneaker manufacturer, this innovative brand has also embraced outerwear, bags designed to help protect gear from the elements, and an environmentally-conscious approach to manufacturing. Their Eco Essentials initiative has seen the launch of new developments such as their unique Tretorn OCEAN-SHELL® fabric made from recycled PET, The Rain Jacket From The Sea, and the completely biodegradable Bio Plant Jacket.
Since 1926 the Icelandic brand 66°North have been creating gear to protect against the harsh outdoors. Hans Kristjánsson founded the brand in order to create protective clothing for Icelandic fishermen and workers who had no choice but to work in unforgiving environmental conditions. The brand’s offerings have expanded over the years and now include a range of clothing and accessories offering a considered blend of comfort and protection from the elements. Tested by the likes of mountaineers and rescue team members, 66°North gear is designed to let you venture forth without being held back by unpredictable weather. But the brand’s more casual offerings also boast a fashion-friendly slant that has seen their appeal grow with savvy style-conscious consumers. Additionally, sustainability is an integral part of the brand’s design process and company ethos, from fair working conditions to responsibly sourced materials, product repairs and product recycling.
COS was founded in 2007 to create functional, stylish and timeless pieces that go beyond seasonal trends and changes. In essence, pieces designed for a lifetime of use, ultimately resulting in a more sustainable product. Hailing from Swedish multinational retail giant H&M, COS takes a minimalist approach to design, focusing on quality and understated aesthetics. Classic yet modern, their carry and clothing salutes practicality, long-lasting quality and style that steps outside of seasonal constraints.
Swedish brand ARKET, also within the H&M family of brands, describes itself as a modern-day market for well made, durable essentials designed to be used for years to come. Sustainability is a key element of the brand, with a focus on responsible fabrics and materials, customer product care, as well as textile and packaging recycling. ARKET’s carry pieces offer a considered mix of functionality and street styling spanning everyday and travel carry needs alike.
Based in Copenhagen, Pas Normal Studios is a brand centered around contemporary technical clothing for cycling. All stemming from custom-made kit that the founders created for themselves. The brand combines fashion-forward aesthetics with practical, technical features, sustainable construction and long-lasting durability. Performance materials, race-ready fits, and modern styling come together to deliver cycling apparel with an elevated look and feel. But it’s not all about cycling. Intended as a creative platform, the brand also embraces collaborations such as their Porter collection, featuring six pieces for on-bike and off-bike use.
Scandinavian design and minimalism often go hand in hand. But Our Legacy takes a slightly different path. And while earlier pieces may have hinted at Scandinavian minimalism, today the brand’s offerings thread in eye-catching prints and get playful with proportions, material choices and dyeing techniques. There’s a subtle hint at subcultures interwoven with one another but ultimately Our Legacy is a brand that enjoys not being defined by one distinct design ethos. Founded in 2004, the Stockholm-based brand has developed over the years to offer a variety of clothing, footwear, bags and eyewear.
Wood Wood was founded in 2002, taking inspiration from ’90s subcultures including music, graffiti, skateboarding and art. Today they dish up an enticing selection of contemporary streetwear and fashion pieces, embracing both original creations and a host of collaborations including teaming up with Nike, adidas, Barbour and more. Inspirations range from high fashion to sports, blending style, functionality, attitude and playfulness. Wood Wood supports corporate social responsibility across their business practices, continually striving to incorporate sustainable and recycled materials, increasing supply chain transparency, and supporting fair working conditions. And fun fact: co-founder Karl-Oskar Olsen is also the co-founder of Pas Normal Studios.
When you can’t find what you’re looking for, sometimes you need to make it yourself. This founding philosophy led a group of skiing enthusiasts to create their own skiing apparel for themselves and their friends. Gear that was functional and stylish, made to perform yet understated, steering clear of the more flashy side of snowsports apparel. As it turns out, their approach to ski apparel resonated with a wider audience. Founded in 1986, Peak Performance grew from a small brand based in a small Swedish mountain village, to a globally recognised name. And the brand has expanded its offerings too, embracing a range of niches from skiing and running, to golf and urbanwear. Not to mention a choice of practical carry items for travel and EDC alike.
Klättermusen have been quietly getting on with the business of making durable, functional, and environmentally-conscious mountaineering gear for over four decades – all with an aesthetic vibe clearly theirs. Founded in 1975 by a group of climbers, Klättermusen began as a small DIY workshop but has grown into a supplier of high-quality outdoor gear for adventure lovers around the world. The brand uses a variety of sustainable and responsible fabrics and technologies across their gear, such as the use of nylon from recycled fishing nets in all their backpacks. In September 2017 they even became the first outdoor brand in history to create a 100% fluorocarbon-free collection. And at the heart of it all, a commitment to minimizing environmental impact and fostering long-lasting durability. Such an unsung hero, we love this brand!
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