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Review – Kanken No. 2 Laptop

Brand new for 2016, Neil Summers shares his thoughts.

If you’re looking for something smart, stealthy and Swedish to safely store your supplies in then you need the Kanken No.2 Laptop bag in your life.  Comprised of Fjallraven’s signature heavy duty G-1000 fabric with leather detailing this super smart looking backpack opens up to reveal a separate padded compartment to place your laptop in as well as a handy business card holder. You’ll also find a handy seat pad in there that can be quickly pulled out to provide you with somewhere clean and comfy to sit down when all the seats on your train compartment, conference centre or park bench have all taken.  This is more than a backpack, it’s a mobile office!
If you’ve been bitten by the Kanken bug or just want to find out more about this various incarnations of this versatile Swedish icon then head over to our newly re-branded site (previously called I Love My Kanken) which is now called My Kanken Bag that’s totally dedicated to this dynamic backpack.

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Filson – Built to last

If you’re new to Filson, Mark Smith digs into the history.

Filson may have been around for several lifetimes, but it’s a new introduction for us here at the Sporting Lodge.

Clinton C. Filson spent the early part of his working life as a railroad conductor, before moving to Seattle, Washington in the 1890s. It was here where the real roots of Filson began, when Clinton set up a small loggers’ outfitting store. In a scene which was mirrored in many parts of the U.S in this era, Filson made its name meeting the needs of prospectors passing through Seattle on their way to the Klondike Gold Rush. The brand eventually got itself on a solid footing in 1897 and although the gold rush was relatively short-lived, it cemented the brand as a reliable supplier of clothing and accessories which would stand the test of time. After the gold rush ended around 1899, Filson shifted to providing gear for outdoor oriented activities and occupations including hunting, fishing and logging.

In the modern day, Filson continues to enjoy an unrivalled reputation in its field. In the early 90s, its heritage in canvas luggage was revived, while more recently in 2010 it fittingly partnered up with another brand born of the gold rush to create Levi’s Workwear by Filson.

With slogans such as ‘Unfailing Goods’ and ‘Built to Last’ running through their veins, Filson have a unique confidence in the gear they make. It’s perhaps their best known tagline which sums them up most accurately though – “Filson – Might as well have the best”.

We’ve handpicked products we think you’ll love. View the full range here.

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Fjallraven Kanken – evolving with the times

Founded in 1960, Fjällräven is a veteran at coping with the outdoors. The brand began like many of its counterparts, with problem-solving at its heart. That simple backpack created by Ake Nordin all those years ago has been joined by a full range of serious outdoor clothing and accessories, and while jackets like the Greenland have become iconic, it’s that original bag which lends its DNA to the brand in the current era.

When things are ubiquitous, it’s usually for a reason. The Kånken bag enjoys worldwide popularity, perhaps due to having nailed the middle ground between function and style. Like any good design, whether it be a car or an item of furniture, the Kånken has been gently evolved with the times, and there are now variations which include laptop compartments and other useful additions. The Kånken also comes in a number of subtle styles, from the well-known bright colours to a more understated, grown up version which utilises leather and more muted colours. There’s something for everyone. It’s a clear example of form following function and looking great as a by-product. Everything about the Kånken is clear, considered and concise. The same can be said for Fjällräven in general, in fact the only thing we can’t quite get our heads around is how to pronounce it correctly, which is fitting for a brand born in Örnsköldsvik. Try saying that with a mouthful of Kendal Mint cake!

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We have a long lasting relationship with Fjallraven and have a fantastic range of products, tried and tested by The Sporting Lodge. Check out Fjallraven’s AW16 collection.

BERETA

Beretta Since 1526

by Neil Summers.

In 1526 Bartolomeo Beretta sold 185 of his cutting edge, high quality ‘arquebus’ barrels to the arsenal of Venice and in doing so started up what is now the oldest active firearms manufacturers in the world, Beretta. A world renowned brand with an incredible history with a Beretta gun even finding its way across the Atlantic on board the Mayflower’s legendary journey alongside the founding fathers of modern America. Unsurprisingly this legendary ‘Mayflower Gun’ can now be found  itting proudly on display at the NRA’s museum in Fairfax, Virginia.

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‘Arquebus’ meaning ‘hook gun’ was Beretta’s first gun ever made.

Over the centuries to follow Beretta have successfully remained a family run business as well as keeping their reputation as a brand totally dedicated to quality and beautiful Italian design. Based in Brescia in the North of Italy, the Beretta Headquarters boasts it’s very own museum featuring more than 900 pieces on display including guns previously owned by John Adams and Napoleon. In addition to making some of the world’s finest firearms, accessories and clothing Beretta also produce a number of renowned Italian wines as well as running a non-profit organisation dedicated to cancer research. It’s hard to think of another brand (even one outside of the world of shooting or sport) that have consistently made  incredible products over such an impressive amount of time and who knows where the next 500 years will take this fantastic Italian company…

We can’t wait to see. View the full range of Beretta at The Sporting Lodge.

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Epic Failsworth

by Neil Summers.

Though it started off as the Maypole Hat Works back in 1881 it was early the following century when it’s more recognised name the New Failsworth Hat Manufacturing Company arrived. The name coming from the location of the factory premises at Claremont Street in Failsworth, Manchester with the slightly punchier title of ‘Failsworth Hats Limited’ being adopted later on in 1940. During which time due to the war, production of normal headwear was put on hold and Failsworth were actively employed making leather helmets for commando frogmen and RAF pilots as well as various parts for aircraft.

Once the war was over, the company picked up the pace by signing a major contract with the John B Stetson company in the USA to manufacture hats bearing the famous Stetson name. On the back of this success they continued to forge ahead with their own brand and by the 1950s Failsworth were making 5,000 dozen hats a week, several of which could be spotted on a myriad of famous heads including local legends the Busby Babes.

By the 1980’s Failsworth hats was an early leader in fabric development using micro fibre sporty types of materials as well as fleece to create pioneering warm, lightweight and waterproof products. A far cry from their early days of using fur felt although their traditional hat and cap styles saw a real resurgence with several versions made using Harris tweed, cashmere and lambswool being introduced during this luxury conscious decade.

Having celebrated their centenary in 2003, the brand still has a keen eye on the future and innovation whilst still being incredibly proud of the traditional values of quality, fine attention to details and supreme craftsmanship that they have kept too. Their incredible hats and caps are still made in Failsworth too, just down the road from their old premises where they started off making just 25 dozen hats per week. Failsworth, I take my hat off to you!

View the fantastic range of Failsworth right here at The Sporting Lodge.

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Filson ‘Might as well have the best’

by Neil Summers.

Back in 1897 during the great Klondike gold rush a budding fortune hunter’s choice of clothing wasn’t just important, it was literally a matter of life and death. Surviving the Yukon’s harsh environment and freezing conditions meant relying on the best blankets, jackets and boots available. Which is perhaps why Filson, who started their business up in Seattle during the gold rush, have always taken the needs of their customers and the quality of their products incredibly seriously.

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Over a century later though their customer may now be more likely to be searching for fish in a river rather than nuggets of gold the Filson philosophy of ‘Make sure it’s the absolute best’ still remains at the heart of the brand and ensuring Filson’s global reputation for reliability, satisfaction and honest values is as strong as it ever was. Which is why they offer a lifetime guarantee on all of their products, such is the pride that they take in the extremely high standards of workmanship and craftsmanship that goes into everything they make. Now how many other brands do you know that offer you an assurance of quality for life?

We are so pleased to now be stocking Filson at The Sporting Lodge. We hope you like it as much as we do!

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Allemansrätten, Fika & Kånken

Our guest blogger, Neil Summers finds out what makes the Swedish tick.

Having just got back from an epic hiking trip in Western Sweden I have discovered that there are three things that are intrinsically part of the Swedish psyche that also reflect their love of the outdoor lifestyle. The first is Allemansrätten which is wonderful law allowing Swedish citizens the right of passage to roam freely across the entire country, meaning you can hike, climb, sail, swim, forage and even pitch your tent up for a day or two wherever you want.

The second is Fika which is an abbreviated combination of the Swedish words for coffee and cake and refers to a daily ritual that’s taken very seriously by the Swedes.

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Traditional Swedish Fika cakes and pastry

Just like the British tea break everything stops for a heart warming cup of coffee usually accompanied by a cinnamon bun or pastry at least once if not twice a day. Nowhere is this ritual observed more than whilst outdoors whether up a traversing a mountain or holed up in a bird hide everything stops for Fika.

Thirdly of course is Kånken the ubiquitous and much loved backpack that was first  launched by Fjällräven in collaboration with the Swedish Guide and Scout Association in 1978 that has been a part of Swedish life ever since. Though favoured by university students and Stockholm commuters with its handy laptop-friendly size the Kånken is equally as popular with Swedes outside of the city enjoying their freedom to roam  and coffee break opportunities in the great outdoors. Over the past three days I witnessed a variety of Kånkens in vast range of colours to equal those of the beautiful flora and fauna of the stunning Swedish wilderness.

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Worth going? Yes…

Our guest blogger, Caroline Hutchinson, relays her first experience of The Game Fair.

Having never been to a game fair we were unsure what to expect…

Ragley Hall was an impressive 1600’s country manor with rolling parkland synonymous to a capability brown landscape.  A beautiful venue to visit and enjoy.

We arrived on the Sunday about 8.30, the road signage was very good and we were directed to the car parking area very easily.  We already had tickets but they could be bought on the day. For those camping, there was free transport from campsite to venue throughout the day.  You were able to get re-admission also which was a blessing as we did plenty of shopping and needed to unload at the car!

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The fair was well set out – there was a large variety of guns and knives stands in, with an area for you to have a go at clay shooting.  There were various activities including a Bear Grylls Survival Trial for both young and old. The fishing section was located near the lake where there were numerous demonstrations on fly fishing, with a large area for the public to try their hand at fly fishing.  There was to our disappointment only a handful of fishing stands, having said that we manage to purchase a healthy amount of items.

In keeping with the theme, a local hunt had brought a selection of foxhounds, bassets and harriers with a demonstration and talk about their role within the hunt. On show were all sorts of terriers from the British Isles, some of whom are on the endangered list, it was most interesting talking to the owners and learning about the dogs characters.

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Gun dog demonstrations throughout the day

For the horse enthusiast, there was show jumping throughout the day and demonstrations with French heavy horses which are used for pulling logs, an ergonomic way of forestry.  We watched a Shetland derby, highly entertaining!

Throughout the grounds there was a plethora of food outlets, ice cream vans and coffee/tea stalls albeit on the pricy side as you would expect, however you are more than welcome to bring your own and there are picnic areas.  At one site we were entertained by a trio who sang throughout the day a selection of old sea shanties and whaling songs, who were excellent.
Finally there was a fun fair area for children with a variety of rides and activities to keep the little ones busy while we shopped!

An excellent first experience, hopefully see you there next year!

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The Brady family – how much do you know?

Our guest blogger, Neil Summers, digs into the Brady family history.

You may be aware of Brady’s iconic, hand made outdoor bags and accessories being amongst the finest in the world but how much do you know about the actual Brady family themselves?

Brothers John and Albert started up their business in Price Street, Birmingham during the 1870s where they made high-quality gun cases and other leather goods for use in field sports. As soon as they were old enough John’s son Ernest and Albert’s son Leonard both joined Brady Brothers with Ernest eventually going on to take over the business in 1928. Under Ernest’s guidance the brand expanded and moved into larger premises on Shadwell street in the heart of Birmingham’s gun quarter in the 1930s. Which is where Ernest first designed a range of fishing bags all of which were named after English rivers

The fishing bags proved incredibly popular and became the mainstay of the company alongside their world-renowned hand-made gun cases. In fact such was their reputation that they had requests for oak and leather cases from royalty including the Sultan of Oman and the Duke of Windsor. Their skills were highly in demand from the world of theatre and cinema too which resulted in Leonard eventually leaving the business to start a new life in Hollywood where he made accessories and props for legendary movie stars such as Douglas Fairbanks Junior and Greta Garbo.

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An original advert for Brady’s Ariel Salmon Bag which is still being produced today

Throughout the 1930s and 40s many of the styles that are still in production today made their first appearance despite Ernest having to move the business into his house during the World War II. Despite the house being bombed and only having one stitcher and a part-time machinist at their disposal Brady Brothers managed to survive. Soon after the war Ernest built a caravan and took his family to London for a month where everyday he would go into central London with a large wheel trucked (also made by him) loaded with samples of their entire range. Leaving no stone unturned Ernest visited everywhere from the largest department stores to the smallest fishing and gun maker shops throughout the capital. It was this persistence and hard work that both saved the business and became part of Brady Brothers folklore that would continue to raise a smile amongst Brady customers for many years to come.

Ernest died in the 1980s where his daughter Helen and brother Philip continued to run the company up until the 1990s when it became part of Goold Holdings also based in the midland in Walsall itself the centre of the saddlery and leather goods trade where the Brady name continues to be a byword for high quality and longevity.

The Sporting Lodge proudly continues to sell these iconic bags, why not have a browse?

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I Love My Kanken – How Did it All Start?

In the late 1970s, Fjallraven noticed that many school children were suffering from back problems when carrying heavy, unwieldy backpacks on their commute to and from school. In 1978, that problem was solved with the trusty Kanken! Its unique and ergonomic style of straps aided children when carrying their heavy books; the word quickly spread, and soon the Kanken became a household name across Sweden.

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In 2000, The Sporting Lodge identified this gem of a backpack and, so impressed by its unique design and impressive range of colours, decided this fantastic bag deserved a website of its own – I Love My Kanken was born!

Since then, Fjallraven’s range has grown to provide a Kanken backpack to suit the whole family, ranging from Kanken Kids to the Kanken No. 2 (the posh one!).

I Love my Kanken’s era is now over but we still have the full range for you to enjoy at The Sporting Lodge.

The Kanken bags are now popular worldwide, and a common sight in any city!

Where will you take yours?