My rucksack and I

“You will notice that Fjällräven’s equipment does not follow fleeting trends, but stands for durability year in and year out.” A beautiful quote from the rustic website of a Swedish outdoor equipment company.

A sweetly informal assertion, reminiscent of Ikea, and the turn of phrase “fleeting trend” is so thoroughly authentic it gives you a warm fuzzy feeling right away. Well then. But whenever my Fjällräven and I are out and about, people often make remarks about what is apparently in fact the latest fleeting trend, sometimes none too kindly.

To these critics, Fjällräven is the epicentre of that zone where the clichés of Sweden and hipsters meet; sort of The Children of Noisy Village hang out in Williamsburg, Brooklyn or Berlin Mitte.

These days, there’s no avoiding minefields. It seems that when humanity, ages later, has finally learned to recognize the inventory of the canon of clichés, it has no greater joy than wrinkling its nose and honing in on me and my poor, square, school bag.

Rather than enjoying with me its cheerful mustard yellow and incredibly comfortable fit and congratulating me on not carrying a jute bag, I am continually pigeonholed.

Dear people, I’m aware of this! I carry my rucksack gleefully and in full cognizance of its trendiness, because I love it. It’s my romantic dream of sled dogs under the Aurora Borealis; with it on my back I feel like a Swedish schoolgirl who skips down the sidewalk greeted by hejhej on all sides.

My joy begins in the morning, when I pull open the zipper to fill it.

The first thing I see is the sewn-in address label with a colon after which you can write your contact details on a dotted line in case your rucksack gets lost in the schoolyard.

The company’s founder, then 14-year-old Åke Nordin from Örnsköldsvik, really thought of everything.

Sometimes I even pack a whole grain cheese sandwich and apple slices in a Tupperware container, later their flavours merge.

Never pears. Pears would ruin the concept. Because Åke’s initial main concern was to ban the pear-shaped rucksack in which everything falls in a lump to the bottom like in a reeking gym bag.

My treasure’s Vinylon-F fabric on the other hand always keeps its quadratic form, and even has a place to safely store important documents. These go in an extra crumple-free normed pocket, probably meant for Social Studies notebooks with a green binding, recycled graph paper and a back cover that provides information about endangered species of the Amazon rainforest. That was the “it” topic when I was in school, deforestation of the rain forest.

Today I guess the more pressing problem is the melting polar caps – and voilà!

Fjällräven means arctic fox in Swedish, which must be why their logo is a curled-up fox kit.

All carbon-neutrally produced by the way and you can donate to their anti-fur and pro-fox campaign – everything makes sense.

In my euphoria, I immediately went to learn more and now know that the Latin name for the arctic fox is Alopex Lagopus and the A with the funny circle on top is actually the Swedish O, while O is U and U is U-umlaut.

I’m writing that down in my Social Studies notebook immediately, as soon as I’ve finished the last pages of Ronia the Robber’s Daughter.