Fjällräven: Born and raised in the great outdoors

When it comes to truly authentic outdoor brands there can be few brands credentials as impressive as the Swedish label Fjällräven. Their origins can be traced back to 1950 when founder Åke Nordin was a 14 year old boy-scout and took issue with the uncomfortable backpacks of the time. Being a practical type he decided to do something about this problem and in a lodge adjoining the family’s holiday home he made a wooden frame and fastened a cotton bag to it that he’d sewn together using leather straps. The new design worked a treat as it distributed the load across his back and increased the ventilation between back and the backpack. Allowing for a more comfortable fit, enabling heavier loads to be carried and heralding the start of something special.

After leaving the scouts Åke went on to do his military service  at the newly founded and extremely demanding FJS Parachute Ranger School in Karlsborg. It was during his time there that he discovered that even the equipment used by the most elite unit in the country was not fit for purpose. Recognising that there was clearly a market for functional and hard-wearing outdoor equipment, Åke set up his own company in 1960.

The first registered Fjällräven office was the family’s one-room flat just outside Örnsköldsvik. Whilst the workshop was situated down in the cellar and is where the first backpacks with aluminium frames were created. They were gradually followed by the condensation-free, lightweight tents, functional outdoor clothing and revolutionary sleeping bags that would come to be loved by a growing corps of outdoor enthusiasts the world over.

Though now a global company with many employees Fjällräven continue to be a brand with a love of the great outdoors still very much at it’s heart. Which is why they remain completely committed to continually developing their high quality products whilst also promoting the outdoor life and acting responsibly towards wildlife and nature.

View Fjallraven’s fantastic outdoor range at The Sporting Lodge.

The everlasting and enduring appeal of a Barbour wax jacket

by Neil Summers.

There can be few things in life that are as hard-wearing or reliable as a Barbour jacket. Designed for all manner of healthy outdoor pursuits from bailing hay to wiping out wildfowl. It’s a timeless British icon loved the world over as much by country folk as it is city-slickers and whose level of appeal (just like the jackets themselves) seems to only improve with age. This was proved by my recent visit to the Pitti Uomo trade show in Florence where I noticed amongst all the fur lined parkas and woolen overcoats that the Barbour Bedale and Beaufort wax jackets are both still the jacket of choice for Italy’s fashion elite. Which is pretty incredible when you try to think of another genuine outdoor that’s as popular with urbanite peacocks as it is with those who wear Barbour jackets for the type of outdoor pursuits that don’t involve drinking prosecco or being papped.

Whilst other jackets have come and gone since its inception back in 1894, thanks to its combination of practicality and timeless style the Barbour wax jacket is now a permanent fixture in our wardrobes. Worn by everyone from festival goers to royalty and even our household pets the Barbour wax jacket remains a uniquely British fashion statement too. It’s an iconic institution as synonymous with our sceptered isle as red buses, steamed up chip shop windows, foaming pints of beer, complaining about the weather and the wonderful crack of leather on willow.

Long may Barbour continue, here at The Sporting Lodge we are proud to be working with such an iconic brand.

Brady Bags – Made in England

by Mark Smith and Neil Summers

The Brady brothers John and Albert started their company in Birmingham in 1887 having begun making leather goods in the 1870s. While they eventually made their name in fishing and game bags, it was their leather gun cases which first announced them to the outdoor community.

John’s son Ernest and Albert’s son, Leonard both joined Brady Brothers later and in 1928 Ernest took over the business.

The business grew from strength to strength under Ernest’s tutelage and in the 1930’s Ernest and Leonard moved to larger premises in Shadwell Street in the heart of Birmingham’s gun quarter. It was there Ernest first designed and personally made a range of fishing bags all named after English rivers. These bags came to personify the brand and gave them a strong identity on which to foster a prosperous future.

Brady gun cases became another mainstay of the brand and were coveted by the great and good, from the Sultan of Oman to the Duke of Westminster.

In what would seem an unlikely turn of events, Leonard sought to make his name in Hollywood and perhaps unsurprisingly his keen craftsmanship helped him establish himself as a prop maker in the film industry.

In the middle part of 20th century, the war effort meant the focus of Brady shifted and the entire business suffered serious upheaval. Ernest moved production to his home where he worked alongside a stitcher and machinist. Eventually, heavy bombing of the region meant another relocation was necessary and roots were put down in Halesowen in the Black Country.

As Brady sought to reestablish itself as the leading bag maker in post-war Britain, Ernest took the unusual step of building a caravan and taking his family on a road trip which led to London. While there he took his products into as many retailers as he could find and took orders which would prove to be a tremendous boon for the business.

With a fine tradition for using the best materials, including canvas and leather, Brady continue to be based just north of Birmingham in Walsall. Their values hold true and when many brands are transplanting their production overseas, Brady remains steadfast in its belief in British manufacturing. While the family took a step back in the 1990s, they kept the same ethos key to the future of Brady by passing the company into expert hands, based in the same region.

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Brady still make some of the bags they did years & years ago using the same traditional methods they always have.

The Sporting Lodge have long been proud members of the Brady Bunch, having had a working relationship with the brand for more than half a century. Long may that continue. If they keep making great bags there’s no reason why not.

Filson – A New Introduction

by Mark Smith and Neil Summers

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. While the brand may be rooted in 19th century values in some ways, it’s very much a modern entity. They keep things close to home by manufacturing in the U.S more often than not. Indeed, some of their materials are source in the United Kingdom, too.

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”.

“The goods we quote must not be confounded with the cheap and vastly inferior grade with which the market is over-run. Such goods are not only useless for the purpose for which they are intended, but the person wearing them would be better off without them.”

— Clinton C. Filson, 1914 catalogue

 

Over the years, Filson’s philosophy has never changed: Make sure it’s the absolute best. Clinton Filson spent a lot of time talking to his customers and refining his designs to their specifications. So it’s not surprising that the items that worked then still work today, over 100 years later. Comfort, protection and durability never go out of style.

We hope you love our new Filson range as much as we do at The Sporting Lodge.

Barbour – since 1894

J. Barbour and Sons Ltd was founded by Scottish native John Barbour in South Shields, England in 1894. Initially aking their name as an importer of oil-cloth, by 1908 Barbour had used their specialist knowledge to manufacture waterproof clothing.

They aimed this at all manner of active types and attracted orders from far and wide. Using a mail order catalogue helped cement Barbour as the go-to guys for reliable outdoor clothing. By 1917, 75% of their orders were made via the mail order catalogue.

Fast forward to the modern era and in 2004, Barbour began to work with Lord James Percy in the design and marketing of its flagship shooting clothing range – the Northumberland range.

Technically advanced and highly acclaimed in 2005, the Northumberland Range won the Shooting Industry Award for best clothing product, and more recently, the Linhope 3-in-1 won the Shooting Industry Award for best clothing product, 2008. More recently he was involved, alongside Vice Chairman Helen Barbour, in designing the new Barbour Sporting collection launched for Autumn Winter 2011.
There are now over 5,000 products across the two seasons, and the collections now cater for Men, Ladies and Children. Broadening out from its countrywear roots, today the heritage and lifestyle clothing brand produces clothing that is designed for a full lifestyle wardrobe. As well as jackets and coats, the Barbour wardrobe includes trousers, shirts, socks, knitwear and a range of accessories.

Nevertheless, in whichever area the company now operates, it remains true to its core values as a family business which espouses the unique values of the British Countryside and brings the qualities of wit, grit and glamour to its beautifully functional clothing.

We are proud to stock a wide range of Barbour products at The Sporting Lodge.

Fjallraven – G1000

by Neil Summers

Whilst a lot of today’s outdoor clothing use lightweight fabrics as their
main selling point, this is not the most important factor when it comes to
Swedish brand Fjallraven. Their clothing, especially the Fjallraven numbers
range prefers a more substantial weight in their fabrics thanks to their
product consultant and ex-military equipment tester Johan Skullman. A man
of considerable knowledge and experience who has found that in the most
demanding conditions lightweight products are often prone to tears and rips
just when you need them the most. So with this in mind jackets such as the
Fjallraven Anorak number 8 have been designed with a heavier, tougher
fabric construction using the wind and water resistant Fjallraven G-1000
Eco and G-1000 HeavyDuty fabrics on the shoulders, sleeves and extended
back. This next level anorak also features several useful ventilation zips
to help regulate temperature alongside plenty of super practical pockets
including a versatile kangaroo pouch on the front, that’s accessible from
both the top and the sides. The additional use of greenland wax also adds
to the durability and waterproofing of Fjallraven jackets which is made
specifically to be with G-1000 fabric that contains a combination of
high-quality paraffin and beeswax, which is far kinder towards the
environment than chemical-based products.

To complement their incredible range of jackets Fjallraven also has some
equally impressive trousers and shirts that also uses their trademark
G-1000 fabric. The substantial Fjallraven Mountaineering shirt Number 3
for example at first look may appear to be classic alpinist attire made
from soft, warm shetland wool but it has also been reinforced with G-1000
material on the elbows, shoulders, back and hips to reduce friction. Whilst
Fjallraven trousers such as the Barents Pro are made entirely from G-100
which is further reinforced on the rear and knees. The knee section also
has pockets on them into which Fjallraven knee pads can also be inserted
for additional comfort whilst kneeling down to peg a tent, taking aim
whilst hunting or maybe even making a marriage proposal in the great
outdoors!
View our extensive range of Fjallraven products at The Sporting Lodge.

Beretta – Since 1526

by Neil Summers.

Having started business during the medieval renaissance in 1526 Beretta has been owned by 15 generations of the same family and is currently in the capable hands of Ugo Gussali Beretta and his sons Pietro and Franco. Combining an industrious and inventive approach to their products since day one, their factory in Northern Italy manufactures around 1,500 firearms every day. Thanks to their continuous focus on attention to detail and progressive research methods Beretta have stayed at the top of their game and become a globally recognised name that’s synonymous with high quality craftsmanship and precision engineering.

As suppliers to numerous countries military and police forces around the world Beretta has become a favourite with sportsmen and woman on a global scale too. Beretta won their first olympic gold medal in clay pigeon shooting in Melbourne back in 1956 with further medals gained at the olympic games of Rome (1960), Munich (1972), Montreal (1976), Moscow (1980), Los Angeles (1984), Seoul (1988), Barcelona (1992), Atlanta (1996), Sydney (2000), Athens (2004) and Beijing 2008. In fact Beretta competition shotguns have won more International Competitions than any other brand with the London Olympics of 2012 securing them a trio of gold, silver and bronze medals.

In the early 1990s the world’s oldest gun manufacturer decided to add a complete line of hunting apparel and accessories to its traditional sporting guns production,clay target shooting and outdoor sports items. Mirroring the success of their guns and using the same level of expertise the new range rapidly earned the brand a reputation for high-tech content and understated Italian elegance.

The Sporting Lodge stock a wide range of Beretta clothing and Accessories.

Klättermusen – The mouse that’s going places

by Neil Summers.

Klättermusen is an outdoor company located in Jämtland Sweden where bear, moose and brown trout populate the mountains, forest and streams. Translating as ‘climbing mouse’ after a well-known Swedish children’s book character Klättermusen’s unusual name was chosen when founder Peter Askulv first started up the business and wanted his products to be desirable for their quality and performance rather than a cool name. Being a biologist and chemist as well as an avid ice climber and cave diver Peter took a scientific approach to creating his outdoor gear, literally putting threads, fabrics and prototypes under a microscope in order to achieve maximum safety and durability.

Designed for conquering mountains as well as the daily commute into the city, Klättermusen’s super technical fabrics are made from predominantly organic and recycled materials in order to lessen their impact on the environment. So don’t be surprised to see fishing nets or bean oil in the product description of your new item of Klättermusen clothing alongside Recco detectors for locating you in an avalanche or fabric that has an actual SPF50 UV factor in order to stop you getting burnt by the midnight sun.

Conquer with Klättermusen at The Sporting Lodge.

Filson – Best of the Best

Staying true to their ethos of ‘might as well have the best’ American brand Filson have chosen one of Britain’s best designers, Nigel Cabourn to create their special edition adjustable hunt coat.  Made in the USA this substantial corduroy collared coat features a detachable hood and is constructed from 16 oz paraffin waxed cotton that will keep the rain out and provide each coat with it’s own unique and beautiful patina. The inspiration comes from a WWI jacket from Nigel’s extensive archive of military clothing, which has provided the basis for much of Nigel’s own collections and garnered him global recognition and acclaim for his incredibly detailed and accurate work. Combining his forty years of expertise in making specialist outerwear with Filson’s expert manufacturing this jacket is as much a collector’s piece as it is a fully functioning and practical item of outdoor clothing. So if you’re looking for the ultimate coat then you might as well have the best (of the best).

The Adjustable Hunt Coat is available in many sizes, get the best today! View the full FIison range.

Barbour, for Queen and Country

Although Barbour has an impressive and illustrious history dating way back to 1894 it was during the 1980s that the family owned business became a household name in the UK. Prior to then their reputation for incredible outerwear had tended to be something of a well kept secret by those who enjoyed country pursuits or riding motorcycles. Though the combination of their second royal warrants arriving (this time for the queen herself) and the first of their iconic Bedale and Beaufort jackets being produced meant that the cat was well and truly out of the (wax) bag.

During this aspirational decade one of the true signs that you’d really ‘made it’ was having a place in the country to go to at the weekend that had to include an AGA oven, a range rover, a chocolate Labrador or two and of course a wax jacket. With the upwardly mobile city-slickers soon realising that if Barbour was good enough for the royal family then it was good enough for them too. In fact the South Shields based brand made such an impact back then that their reputation for this old-fashioned yet still incredibly effective form of waterproofing means that it’s still impossible to think of a wax jacket without also thinking of Barbour at the same time even now. This is no doubt helped by the fact that when you buy a Barbour it becomes more than just an item of clothing, it becomes a part of you that improves with age and with the right amount of care and the odd re-waxing will last you a lifetime.

Browse the wonderful world of Barbour at The Sporting Lodge.