An Overflowing Cup Of Joe

August 17, 2016

by Peter Reese
An Overflowing Cup Of Joe

In the same way rural metalworking and flatbread artisans bring complementary skills and products to the community, Jamtland-based Swedish brands participate in a healthy exchange of goods that culminate in the semi-annual Jamtland Outdoor Experience (JOE).  Here, a group of outdoor retailers and journalists put both classic and new products into the field during an extended cross-country trek. While the county is the country’s largest by area at over 34,000 square kilometers (8.2% of Sweden), many outdoor experts (who all know each other) join the JOE team in the field, close friends as they often move across brands during their careers.  Between the visitors and hosts, a growing body of insight from such trips leads to what could be characterized as wiser, more field-proven products.

Five iconic brands, all sponsors of JOE, command attention well past the Swedish borders and each brings a story that supports another lesson (the third) garnered in a trip to Jamtland County.  “Excel to exchange, share to survive,” whether in knowledge or material goods.  Even a quick summary of their approach demonstrates an abiding belief that everything in the kit must prevail through weather fair and foul.  And that learning transcends generations.

WOOLPOWER:  Nothing missed, raw wool to stark wilderness 

Image by Peter Reese

Among the most rugged wool apparel and footwear products in the world, those from the Ostersund factory focus on warmth and durability.  Wearing them creates a rougher exterior finish that only enhances insulation while making their garments feel extremely personal.  Included are baselayers, wrought in several weights, that come from the vision of brothers Daniel and Adam Bramby. Rain, snow, and wind factor into the equation from head-to-toe in their growing collection.  As does product longevity measured in decades.  

HILLEBERG:  The expedition continues

Image by Urban Axelsson

For nearly 50 years, this family-owned company has diligently turned out tents of almost other-worldly quality and durability.  Favored by explorers including intrepid mountaineers and Arctic adventurers, Hilleberg defies gale force winds and monsoon rains.  From more compact two-person models such as the Nammtj 2 to full-on basecamp Altai, an informed sense of near-paranoia means easy assembly, reliability and long-lasting utility down to flaps, zippers and stake points.  With this brand, trade 25% higher prices for 50% more confidence.

TRANGIA:  Bang-on for basics

Image by Peter Reese

Hit a spoon against the bottom of a Trangia cooking pot, even the lightest version, and the sounds of the Jamtland wilderness resound.  Solid with a complete absence of guesswork, Trangia continues to defy the experimental, marginal or magical in favor of the practical.  As giant presses form thick-gauge metal into camping stoves, pots and kettles, the thick spruces outside the factory walls shiver in strong winds.  Since 1925, the company’s pursued that which 1) stays lit, 2) cooks steadily and 3) cleans easily with aluminum-based models.  With Trangia, survive turns to thrive in the backcountry.

KLATTERMUSEN: Big ideas pair with small details

Image by Urban Axelsson

The “climbing mouse” company excels in bad weather and when moving fast is essential.  With narrow, European-style packs at the core, the brand has grown into a highly-innovative gear and apparel company.  Zipper and webbing configurations contradict traditional designs as does Klattermusen’s long-standing environmental advocacy.  Even as far back as 2006, 100% organic cotton was their path. Hiking the remote mountains of Jamtland in driving rain, the little details on packs and jackets never fail to bring a smile. Or protect hikers from nature’s full-on fury as the trail home appears in the mist.

LUNDHAGS:  Walking miles in the maelstrom

Image by Urban Axelsson

Here, an iconic leather boot company steps in with a growing sense of purpose.  Adding apparel and packs, the small shoe shop started by Jonas Lundhags in 1932 carries a commitment to customer satisfaction forward with models like the new Laisan Pant and stretch hybrid Mylta Jacket.  Seeing cobblers at their benches, reinvigorating boots from even 15 years ago, is a comfort in an era of fast fashion.  While the footwear leans toward a wider toebox and narrow heel (very European), the trim lines of Lundhags clothing suits outdoor athletes anywhere.  Still producing in Jamtland, the brand is committed to living out the family’s long-standing values


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