The Scandinavian Outdoor Award is a competition exclusively for Scandinavian brands, with an international jury of experts from across the outdoors fields from skiers and alpinists to sustainable material scientists and retailers - including our very own Cath Prisk.
To see the winners and nominated products in full, do join the award ceremony at 16:30 UK time Monday 1st Feb on either of these livestreams:
All the products can be seen on the Scandinavian Outdoor Awards website. Hopefully next year we can be back at ISPO in Munich to celebrate great design and innovation in person! in the meantime i'll have to source my own Scandi snack and cold beer and enjoy online.
We are super proud that Cath Prisk, our CEO, was asked this year to represent independent retail, and review the nominated products with an eye to what would sell to the savvy customers of our East London based shop, Outdoor People. Here's what she thought...
With Lockdown 3.0 in full swing in the UK, it was a total joy to be thinking about the new products coming out of Scandinavia, inspiring more of us to go outdoors. I've been part of three ISPO Awards juries before, but this was my first Scandinavian Outdoors Group (SOG) panel, and being online definitely made it a bit more of a challenge (but it did at least feel very environmentally-friendly).
The gear was posted to us, giving us a week or so to test it before sending on to the next judge. The panel meetings, chaired by Gijs Loning, a veteran reviewer of outdoors gear, were held online and were a great chance to debate the standards of the gear, compare uses from places with the deep snow of Scandinavia to here in soggy England. My fellow panelists came from all across Europe - Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Poland and the Netherlands - and in these interesting times it was clear the outdoors is even more important to our friends, families and neighbours than ever before.
All the products, whichever award they were entered for, were being tested against the same some high standards including:
- functionality (it has to work well for its intended purpose)
- quality (recognising price points and intended market, high quality was expected for all)
- sustainability (in both manufacturing, supply chain, lifetime expectations and materials used. Overall this was often the highest consideration)
- innovation (in terms of applicability to the stated purpose, demonstrating a new application to a problem)
- design (looking at how it looks, feels and functions).
In addition I was particularly looking at whether I think it would sell to the savvy and demanding customers of our shop in Netil Market, Hackney, East London.
On to the judging...
Show me the cool new gear!
You can see the full range on the Scandinavian Outdoor Gear Award website.
Outdoor People Shop, Christmas 2020
1) Vikingøks by ØYO
- DESIGN: Øyo/Norwegian Vikings, year 1000
- CATEGORY: Hardware
- PRODUCT MATERIAL: Steel, ash wood and felt
- SUSTAINABILITY: Durable, a product for life. Made from quality steel and quick growing ash.
- COMPANY SUSTAINABILITY: Focus on use of sustainable materials and ensuring packaging is part of the product.
- PRODUCT WEIGHT: 500 g
- PRICE: €69
"The Viking Axe is a versatile and good-looking hobby axe that easily fits in a backpack" is what they said and they were right.
I loved this axe, the traditional shape and the felted cover. It is light enough to take in my backpack, which immediately makes it more useful than my beautiful but much heavier - and more expensive - hand axe.
The haft is made from ash, not (yet) certified as sustainably grown but hopefully will be soon. The head is hardwearing and durable forged steel. It's not handcrafted (at this price that's not expected, but its a lovely bit of kit). Perfect for backyard firepits, a bit of bushcraft and wild camping once the lockdown lifts.
The backstory is fascinating too... a replica of a Viking axe that was found near Øyo's production facilities at Geilo, Norway. It is assumed that the original axe was used in everyday household activities around year 1000AD. Here they kept the original form and characteristics and improved the quality of the steel and the edge of the blade.
2) Muutun Kids Coat by Reima
- PRODUCT NAME: Muutun
- DESIGN: Jaana Largillet
- CATEGORY: Kids
- PRODUCT MATERIAL: 100% polyester, also the lamination. The lining fabric is made with 45% recycled polyester, 55% virgin. Monomaterial = made of one single material, 100% recyclable. Only the snaps and zip lock are metal, which will be recycled as metal.
- SUSTAINABILITY: Monomaterial wear is built to last. When the clothes are finally too worn out to protect from wind and rain, we’ll take them back to recycle them into something new. Each garment has a unique ID that you can register at myreima.com, to follow the item’s journey and enable its take back.
- COMPANY SUSTAINABILITY: They only do business with socially and environmentally responsible firms. By 2023 at least 50% of materials will be bluesign® approved and 20% recyclable.
- PRODUCT WEIGHT: 500 g
- PRICE: €129.95
This practical, stylish coat kept out a six-hour steady rainfall and was given the Hackney seal of approval by the young people that came in my shop just before Christmas. I really liked it, in terms of fit, functionality, durability and practicality. It's pricey, but the price is what a coat of this quality costs.
This will make make a good school/home/hiking jacket, with the multiple uses needed at this price point. It will certainly last through several children! Given schools will be expecting to take children outdoors in all weathers I think this is a superb coat that will give children many, many hours of outdoor play - and then be passed on or sold second hand to give more hours of play to more children.
3) Reima Ilmavilla Reversable Merino Dress
- PRODUCT MATERIAL: Merino double face 230 g/m, 54% polyester, 31% Merino wool, 15% polyamide
- PRODUCT WEIGHT: 170 g (size 104), 210 g (size 128)
- PRICE: €59,95
The ilmavilla dress is a lovely reversable longer jersey dress, a midlayer that will get endless wear. The lack of buttons/zips/rough points will appeal to lots of active children, especially those who find fastenings frustrating.
4) Bergans.future.labs 05.B Anorak
- BERGANS OF NORWAY (+SPINNOVA / HALLEY STEVENSONS)
- PRODUCT NAME: bergans.future.labs 05.B Anorak
- DESIGN: bergans.future.labs
- CATEGORY: Apparel
- PRODUCT MATERIAL: Spinnova/Tencel/Cotton/Wood (olive) (The fabric is woven on an organic cotton warp as there does not yet exist enough Spinnova yarn to make an industrially sized warp beam).
- PRODUCT WEIGHT: 600 g (X-Small) / 700 g (Large)
- SUSTAINABILITY: The Anorak is part of The Collection of Tomorrow – an experiment into circular business models with emphasis on the value of resources. Owners of existing Collection of Tomorrow products can return their product for recycling and only pay for the manufacturing of the Anorak (as they have already paid for the material)
- PRICE: €350 (€200 for the material, €150 manufacture)
We love this whole concept. It's the most Zen, circular, pared-back-living proposition I've seen in clothing, certainly in the outdoors industry. It's a vision of the future with it's feet firmly in traditional manufacturing technology. It cocks a snook at the futurists thinking in silver foil and 'smart' clothes, recognising that in reality we want to tread lightly and disconnect.
The base shape and construction of the anorak is taken from a 1950’s Bergans anorak, updated with modern design lines. The fit is unisex and oversized. The folding neck fan opening, and the olive wood clasps are inspired by the Bergan's Collection of Tomorrow 05.A Backpack, which won the sustainability award in 2020.
But truly, stylish as it is, it's not the jacket that is the star here - it's the material, a brand new concept called spinnova. The fibre is classified as natural paper fibre (not man-made). Spinnova technology is mechanical and uses no harsh chemicals (as opposed to viscose/Lyocell/Tencel). The only by-product of the fibre process is evaporated water (which is collected and re-used). The fabric is treated with a traditional wax from Halley Stevensons and can be re-waxed by the consumer as needed. The wax does not break the circularity of the product. The Anorak will be made as one dyed colourway and one completely undyed colourway.
It is lovely to feel, and would wear-in beautifully as cotton waxed smocks do. The fact they have looked at every detail for sustainability makes it really stand out - no greenwashing going on here... and it arrived in sustainable packaging in a spiral card box that unwrapped to display the jacket in all its glory. Nice touch.
5) Primus Klunken Rainbow Bottle
- PRODUCT NAME: Klunken Rainbow Bottle
- DESIGN: Primus
- CATEGORY: Hardware
- PRODUCT MATERIAL: Stainless steel, cork, strong webbing
- PRODUCT WEIGHT: 175 g Klunken Rainbow Bottle – single wall 0,7 lvolume // 270 g the Klunken Vacuum Rainbow Bottle – double wall construction 0,5 l volume.
- SUSTAINABILITY: Primus's focus has shifted from “the reduction of negative impacts” towards “a positive contribution”. The steel of the bottle is durable, and the cork is pre-used (so no tree was cut down for this bottle).
- PRICE: €34.95
I really wanted to love this. I love water bottles, i particularly love ones that keep water cold or hold a hot cup of tea. Anyone that follows our social media will know how much i love a cup of tea on the move...
There will be some that think this hits the sweet spot, but unfortunately not me. The quality just wasn't quite there - a few sharp edges, the metal lid was a bit clunky and most importantly, 4 hours after filling it the tea was, well, not hot. Sigh. It would be a good waterbottle, but then it might want a slightly different lid.
It's nice, it fits the Känken rucksack perfectly; it's just not brilliant. And in an award of this calibre, i wanted brilliant.
Nice colours though!
6) Fjällräven Tree-Kånken
- PRODUCT NAME: Tree-Kånken
- DESIGN: Fjällräven Design Team
- CATEGORY: Hardware
- PRODUCT MATERIAL: Main fabric and lining in Pine Weave made from 100% lyocell.
- PRODUCT WEIGHT: 410 g
- PRODUCT USP: Unique Kånken backpack made from an innovative 100% bio-based fabric.
- SUSTAINABILITY: Fjällräven strive to put sustainability at the core of everything they do. They focus on functional design with minimum impact, with timelessness and durability as focal points. This backpack is an example of that, largely made from a new material that is bio-based taken from sustainably grown spruce and pine trees.
- PRICE: €130
The Kånken is an absolute favourite of the East London school kids, students and young creatives sitting around London Fields. The basic design design of this pack is not much different, with a couple of tweaks including slim fit side pockets and replacing the front pouch with a zipped pocket.
The pockets fit the Primus bottle perfectly but won't stretch to most mainstream bottles. Perfect for the axe or a slim brolly though! They have added a sit pad in the back that will no doubt be mostly used to protect laptops and tablets.
To introduce a new, durable, bio-based material to such an iconic pack is to be applauded. We asked them why they hadn't extended the sustainability story to the straps, threads and fastenings and were told that this is the first product in the line, with the implication being that they will address the rest of the pack in future iterations. One to watch.
And that's it. I got involved in discussions about all the rest of the products, but these are the ones i got my hands on. I was super impressed by the process set out by the Scandinavian Outdoor Group and facilitated by Gijs. It felt robust and in depth, recognising the effort the competitors had gone to to submit their applications and get products to us in time.
We had a lively debate yesterday to finalise the award winners, always a fun process with so much good stuff to choose from and so many different perspectives. I'm glad to say in the end we were unanimous in our decisions. I hope you enjoy the award ceremony - hopefully next year we can be back at the wonderful ISPO in Munich to enjoy it in person!
Photo credit for title image: Piotr Drożdż, Gory Magazin, Poland from the Jury 2020