48OE Blog  
Oct 26

Written by: 48OE Admin
26/10/2015 08:26  RssIcon

Although the vast majority of our customers are within the UK we have in the last 18 months had enquiries and sales from across Europe. Generally it is our Frost River bags that attract attention.

We have a tremendous respect for customers who write to us with questions about our business  and our products. We know it takes a leap of faith to order products from small companies overseas. As a result we often form a "Pen Pal" relationship before a sale takes place. Forgetting all the marketing hype we like to treat our customers big or small the way we would like to be treated so no question is beyond reply. We want every customer to feel they are dealing with a genuine family business who cares about the way our customers see us.

So we started a dialogue with Peter, “The Swede”, as he refers to himself as about a Frost River Isle Royale pack. After a few emails I felt I had known him for years, we just seemed to click. Peter purchased a bag as he said he was going on a canoe trip to the north of Sweden. On the spur of the moment I said “In that case send me a picture and tell me about the trip”. True to his word, many weeks later, the pictures and the words came over in an email. What I liked best was his footnote that I should correct any of the English as although his origins were from Scotland this had not been his native tongue since the seventeen hundreds. This is Peter’s story and shows the remoteness and majesty of northern Sweden. I can’t wait to visit!

Peter’s Story

We planned our little adventure for a month or so. It´s the first time my son Hugo, 14, has travelled that far north and there were many things to think of. We are completely at ease with  living outdoor life in our own forests in the south of Sweden.

Thanks to the genuine Swedish "Allemansrätt", which is everyone’s right to take advantage of nearly all nature’s blessings (except Greenlaning with Land Rovers - unfortunately!), we have free admission to all sorts of terrain and waters right where we live. But this time our goal was different; we dreamed of vast and remote areas of sheer wilderness; without neighbours, but with a chance to see reindeer, bear or wolf. Above all, we wanted canoeing as it should be:- a way of transporting you and your gear for miles and miles - without any propspect of  turning back. This is what wilderness is to us. You go in there and, having made your  preparations accordingly, you know you'll stand a fair chance to get out again, no matter what nature throws at you. The rest is pleasure.

In August, we travelled north by train and bus for almost 30 hours. This is where "Fjällen" (which would be our equivalent to the Alps) begins. We´d chosen a wilderness area called Rogen, which is a large National Park situated on the border between Sweden and Norway. It is neighbouring the Norse national park called Femundmarka - a great for dog-sled in winter-time. It´s almost impossible to hike by foot in Rogen:- lakes, portages, lakes, occasional white water, lakes again and portages; all surrounded by heavy rocks and craterlike valleys or downright holes, makes canoeing the only reasonable alternative. Lakes are flat, we like that!


In Rogen, You´ll find Yourself as far as 350 km away from nearest civilization except for the canoe rental outpost, that is, run by Kerstin and her husband. Hence, distances feel a bit more reasonable if you´ve got a good canoe and a trusty paddle.

This time, we also tried a few new items. The Isle Royale was almost the perfect canoe-sack after I´d tucked in a piece of sleeping mat close to my back, it went absolutely perfect - even at the bottom of a very wet canoe!  I also  imagine this is exactly  the way a pack looked some two hundred years ago on the borders of Canada and Alaska. Or at least in the 1880´s, when camping first became a great joy to the Americans.

Another item that we tried out was the new Helsport Lavvu-tent, an excellent, roomy one. Usually, we sleep in a lean-to, a simple tarp will almost always fill our needs. However considering the possibility of midges in Fjällen, this was not an option and we decided on the tent. I´ve tried a few times, but
I´d rather not do it again. We didn´t want to get stuck in bad weather without the opportunity to relax without having midges and all sorts of winged monsters around our heads and inside our ears. As things turned out, we had a lot of bad weather, but since the weather had been bad all summer, there were no midges. So every cloud has a silver lining.
We paddled for two weeks, and somewhere in the middle we had to weigh anchor for two days, since weather became bad, or even worse. It was really nice to be able to move inside the tent (I am a rather tall figure). Once, I was completely snowed in for three days in a small snow-cave in Telemark - I guarantee You this was a completely different feeling. This time, we enjoyed our coffee, tried to invent new dishes, slept, spoke about  philosophy (the young lad has taken an interest in the subject) and even tried to make a camp-fire inside the tent, rain pouring outside. Quite different from the pictures in the Helsport product brochure, making a fire inside turned out not to be a a very good idea. I guess we´ll have to practice a little more. This winter, I plan to make my own wooden stove. As usual, we´re in for some winter camping.

One of our goals was to fish and eat fish along the "trail". Usually, that´s no problem, but this time it was. Folks up there told us afterwards that this summer was a “No-good-fish-summer”. I had one large perch on the hook, but when it got a glimpse of our hungry faces above the gunwale, it preferred to turn its back on us. Hugo’s reaction to this was something like “But daddy, there are lots of reindeer in the forest...." -(did I tell you that he´s fond of hunting?). That night, we made a feast on mushrooms, butter, digestives  and coffee. Life could actually not be better.
One day, we decided to take a walk to and climb one of the nearby summits,"Handskinnvålen". Not a very high mountain (more like a "climb light"), but high enough to a fourteen year old fresher. We used the compass to navigate ourselves through the bushy, stony lowland area, surrounding the mountain. I tell you, without that compass, we would probably be out there today! The terrain was quite harsh and unfriendly and lots of midges here! It was  hard to keep directions and we were happy when we passed the treeline onto the high mountain. On one of the pictures you can  see Hugo celebrating the successful climb.

Thirty minutes later, we had a prolonged lunch beside a nearby creek (melt water), accompanied by eight reindeer - very shy, but also very curious.

On our way home, we almost lost track in the lowlands, but luckily enough and thanks to a little creative use of the compass, we reached our beloved camp just before nightfall. We were fully prepared to make a provisional camp for the night, though. As it turned out, we now could reward ourselves with an extra slice of cheese before hitting our sacks.

On the last evening of our expedition, we finally dared to take a real swim. Lakes in northern Scandinavia can be rather cold even in summer - 12 to 14°C; but now we just had to do it. We tied the canoe near a large tree hanging out over the water, took our clothes off and jumped fearless into the water. After a few minutes, it wasn´t such a bad experience. Imagine two lucky boys, taking a swim in the middle of absolute nowhere; deep cold water; the scent of soap and campfire - and you´ll be pretty close to a postcard from a small but happy family.

Peter’s story and pictures made me think long and hard about life. He illustrated what families could be and how values must be passed through generations. The outdoors is a gift and we are not only custodians but it gives back far more than we realise. Who would not want to be on a lake side cooking over a camp fire?

I am not a total dinosaur - you cannot put technology back in a box. Keep everything in proportion - but whereas there are back door “cheats” on computer games the wilderness is for real. It is probably the best preparation you can have for life and it will almost certainly bring the greatest pleasures.