The outdoor industry has a responsibility to show the world that quality, responsibly made products can be functional and profitable. And in no other industry does it make more sense. So The Mountain Folk proudly introduces to you the new recurring series, Green Gear. This is an effort to promote the folks out there doing it right. So let’s kick it into gear...
FJALL RAVEN KAJKA BACKPACK
First up on the Green Gear list, the ever-essential backpack. Our current choice? The Fjallraven Kajka. I’ve taken this pack hiking in the Andes, climbing in Washington State, and backpacking most places in between. Fjallraven describes it as a “fairly modest appearance,” but that doesn’t mean it can’t handle the toughest situations out there.
Lets break it down...
5-7 layers of Birch wood held together with “environmentally friendly glue” make up the frame. Super light, super strong, and just beautiful to look at.
“Perfect Fit” system allows you to adjust it easily out in the field (like any good backpack should), and even while on the go. So yes, it's comfortable. The shoulder straps are firm enough to handle significant weight, and the hip belt is comfortable from day one. If I were the designer though, I'd change out the large plastic buckles with something smaller and greener. Yes, the wooden frame minimizes the environmental impact but why not make a completely green pack?
Simple design, but that’s a good thing. Less room for malfunctions. It’s like that wool sweater that you keep coming back to even though you have a closet full of synthetic layers. Sometimes simplicity is worth it’s weight in gold.
Fabric is surprisingly water resistant, and in our experience, even more so that the rain fly (which could improve, its big, and the fabric broke down way too quickly).
A front (duffel) opening that opens wider than any pack on the market. It makes for easy packing on cold mornings in the tent.
Wet/Dry storage to help keep the sink out and dry those week-old socks.
A removable brain, so you can cut weight for summit day.
It’s not light, but let’s be real, unless a speed record or knee surgery is in you near future, the weight is reasonable for the next-to-nothing impact on the environment it took to create, and the comfortable ride when you've got a full load.
It’s gorgeous. Leather accents, clean and natural colors, and the knowledge that buying it contributes to Fjall Ravens efforts to save the arctic fox, make it a pleasure to carry for any conservationist.
We’re not saying there is not room for improvement (it’s expensive, the rain fly is weak, it uses normal plastic buckles, and there could be more outside storage options), but you must admire Fjallraven’s efforts to change the frame to an equally strong and beautiful birchwood. This shaved off 90% of the environmental impact of a normal pack and therefore should become an industry standard. These guys were the first to pull it off, so they get our full support. Patagonia/Gregory/Osprey are you listening?