A supporting idea 支撐構想

Reindeer herder Nils Olsson Sarri, now 80 years old, still remembers how impressed he was by a new backpack frame in the 1950s. The frame had been made by a 14-year-old boy named Åke Nordin. 

Åke had made the backpack before heading off on a trip to Dikanäs, a small community in the Västerbottensfjällen mountains, in the summer of 1950. At that time, most backpacks looked like shapeless pears. With a full backpack on their backs, hikers had to be bent nearly double in order to stop themselves from falling backwards because of the weight. Having a heavy sack resting directly on the back also meant that shirts became drenched with sweat, and this meant hikers could easily get chilly if the weather changed. The young Nordin decided to do something about this problem.

He had read that if you were going to carry something heavy, the weight should be positioned high up and close to the back. While his friend, Lars-Olof, was tying fly fishing knots, Åke went out to the barn outside the Nordin family's summer cottage on Ulvön and hammered together a wooden frame. Åke's mum, Gunhild, was a the daughter of a tailor and had taught Åke how to sew already when he was 10 years old. Using her Singer treadle sewing machine, he sewed a sack in a strong cotton fabric which he attached to the wooden frame with leather straps. He fashioned the shoulder straps out of calfskin ribbons. The backpack was comfortable to carry. The ladder-shaped carry frame distributed the load better across the back and improved ventilation between the back and the backpack. In addition, he could carry a heavier load. Åke filled the backpack with the tent and enough food for both himself and his travel companion. Soon, they were on the postbus heading north.

In the mountains the backpack attracted a lot of attention. Particularly among the Sami, who spent weeks at a time up on the mountains. They understood the importance of a robust backpack that was still comfortable when you were carrying a heavy load. One of the Sami asked Åke to make him a backpack. The next time he visited the mountains the news about his backpack had spread among the other reindeer herders. Over the next few years, an idea started to take shape in the young Åke Nordin's mind about starting a business making modern equipment that would make life easier when spending time in the wilderness.

Like his father, fruit dealer Karl-Erik Nordin, before him, Åke attended the educational association, Bröderna Påhlmans Commercial College, in Stockholm. He then did 15 months of military service at the newly established and extremely demanding Paratrooper School in Karlsborg, where Åke became even more convinced that there was a market for functional and hard-wearing outdoor equipment. He felt that not even the equipment used by the most elite unit in the country made the grade.

Ten years after Åke had put together his first backpack as a young boy, more precisely in May 1960, issue number 4 of the Swedish Tourist Association's Newspaper dropped through the letterboxes of the association's members all over Sweden. Crammed in next to an advert for Jukon's ointment for haemorrhoids, readers could find a brief advert for a new type of backpack from the newly established company Fjällräven. "LIGHTWEIGHT carry frame, tested during three years of winter and summer mountain treks", stated the advert, adding: "If you know a Sami or a mountain farmer, ask him how you should carry a really heavy backpack. He will tell you about the unsurpassable carrying properties of the carry frame." The small black and white photos, the size of a stamp, show a young man with military posture, carrying an enormous backpack on his back. The man in the picture is Åke Nordin.

現年80歲的馴鹿牧人Nils Olsson Sarri依然記得1950年代時,有一套新的背囊框架讓他驚艷不已,這套框架是一位叫做Åke Nordin的14歲小男孩所設計出來的。


到了山上,眾人的眼睛為之一亮,尤其是一次要在山上待上數週的薩米人。他們知道在背負重物時,一個耐用又舒適的背囊有多重要。其中一個薩米人就請Åke幫他做了一個背囊。結果Åke二度造訪的時候,這個背囊已經傳遍了整個馴鹿牧人圈。接下來的幾年內,一個念頭開始在年輕的Åke Nordin心中成形,他要開創一個製造現代裝備的事業,讓在荒野生活的時光更輕鬆愜意。

Åke和從事水果生意的父親Karl-Erik Nordin一樣,進入斯德哥爾摩的Bröderna Påhlmans 商業專科學校就讀,接著到卡爾斯堡新成立的嚴厲傘兵學校服役15個月。在這裡他更相信耐用的功能性戶外用品絕對有其市場,他認為甚至連國內頂尖精英單位所使用的裝備都未達標準。

Åke還是小男孩的時候組裝出他的第一個背囊,十年後,精確地說是1960年5月,瑞典旅遊協會出版的第4期刊物送到了全瑞典的會員手中。不過讀者發現,在Jukon的痔瘡藥膏廣告旁邊,擠了短短一則新成立的Fjällräven公司的新款背囊廣告,上面寫著:「輕量的背負系統,三年冬夏的山區實地行山測試。」還有「假如您認識薩米人或山農,問問他背負重背囊的訣竅,您就會發現這套背負框架有多麼無與倫比。」旁邊郵票大小的黑白照片上面,是一個軍人姿態的青年背著超大背囊的模樣,照片裡的人正是Åke Nordin。