Out of the 25,000 people that have taken part in one of our Fjällräven Classic trekking events over the years, only six have done all four. That’s no small feat, especially considering the only person that’s done the same from our side is Fjällräven Classic event manager, Carl Hård af Segerstedt. So we decided to sit down with one of them, Jeremiah Young, after he completed this year’s Fjällräven Classic Sweden – for the second time – and find out what makes Fjällräven Classic so special. (He’s also taken part in Fjällräven Polar, but that’s another story.)
For the uninitiated, Fjällräven Classic is now an umbrella name for our trekking events. The idea is to carry all you need on your back including tent, camp stove, sleeping bag and clothing, over the course distance. Fjällräven provides the supporting infrastructure, the bulk of the food and know-how, plus a little good cheer to boot.
It all started in northern Sweden, back in 2005. Now there are sister events in South Funen, Denmark, Colorado, North America and Sai Kung Country Park, Hong Kong. No two trails are alike, each offering its own challenges and rewards, but the concept remains the same: to offer a safe environment to trek, long-distance, through beautiful nature and share a love of the outdoors with like-minded individuals.
Solo Vs. Group
This sharing, supportive framework is unique. It’s what most people claim to like the most. But Jeremiah was skeptical in the beginning. “I always trekked solo. I wanted solitude. So I never thought a group trekking event like Fjällräven Classic would appeal to me. But I was curious. I wanted to know what it was about.” Jeremiah’s curiosity got the better of him. He bought tickets for himself and his girlfriend to the first trial event in the US in 2016. “We were both pretty nervous. For her, it was because she’d never trekked before; she didn’t know what to expect. For me, it was more apprehension. Were these other people real trekkers or was it just a big party along the trail? What about nature – would it be protected?”
They were both positively surprised. The logistics were covered. Their fellow trekkers were taking it just as seriously; it wasn’t a big party – at least not until the end at the Trekkers Inn. “It was all about enjoying nature, hiking and everything in between. It was awesome.” It clearly made a big impression on Jeremiah. Though he vowed to not abandon solo trekking completely, the Classic concept clearly won him over. Sweden was next on the list.
One wasn't enough
Tickets were already sold out for 2016, so he booked for the 2017 event. And because the 2016 US trek was really just a trial, Jeremiah wanted to go back and do the real thing again in July 2017. “Then you guys went and added another Classic event – in Hong Kong. That’s when I got the idea about doing all four. If I was going to do Sweden and the US, I might as well do them all. And wouldn’t it be great to be the first person to do so!” That meant getting a wiggle on. Other people had the same idea.
By August 2018 Jeremiah had walked all four Fjällräven Classic treks, completing both the US and Swedish events twice and he’d even taken part in Fjällräven Polar. “I hadn’t planned any of it from the outset. But I’m quite competitive, so when I set my sights on something I follow through.” Jeremiah is well placed to talk about the differences in all the events, from the free-camping of Sweden to the altitude of Colorado. But he also has a clear understanding of what they share.
“I love all the treks. They’re so beautiful. But it’s the people that keep me coming back. As I said I was a solo trekker before. And I still love the solitude and freedom that comes with that. But with Classic it’s about the people you meet. You usually find out you have a lot in common with someone that barely speaks English. You get to talk about gear for hours. You can share stories of the outdoors that unite you with people from all over the world. You do get moments of solitude, too, but there’s also community, one that spans across languages. I’ve finally found like-minded trekkers.”
But we had to ask: which is his favourite? “That’s tough, the one closest to my heart has to be the US Classic, because it was my first and it really connected me to Fjällräven and what the brand is about. The best in terms of the trekking experience is the Swedish one, hands down. The logistics are dialled, it’s so beautiful and you can camp wherever you want.
I like that Fjällräven leaves enough to your own imagination that you don’t have pre-conceived ideas or crazy expectations. Though there’s enough preparation and provision that it takes away some of the burden of planning it yourself, so you can just go in and enjoy yourself. It’s a wonderful experience and I’ll definitely be back”
Jeremiah's Classic Comparisons
"Now that I've completed all the Classics I often get asked questions like 'which one is the hardest? Which one is my favourite? Or which one should I do first?' Generally, I avoid answering these questions for the sole reason that each is unique. What I can share is my personal experience which hopefully you'll find helpful."
"It's wet, windy, muddy, chilly and very rocky! I would venture to say 70% of this trail is covered in rocks. My foot placement got sloppy when fatigue set in, causing me to accidentally strike my toes against the rocks. I definitely recommend wearing sturdy hiking boots for this one. With that said, this trail is gorgeous. Of all the classics, Sweden makes me feel most appreciative of nature and our potential impact on it.
"Hands down Denmark holds the title as the Classic for everyone! My tip is to bring swimwear. There is a small sandy beach near the tall end of day two that has some great swimming. After two days of trekking, this feels amazing. And take some Danish currency. You'll travel through a small town where locals sell freshly baked pastries, coffee, and drinks for trekkers. P.S. The brown sugar and butter covered ones are my favourite."
"Hot, humid, and covered in paved trails. Though it's not as high in elevation as the USA Classic, Hong Kong more than makes up for this in quantity and frequency of climbs. Oh, and there are stairs - tons of them! The Hong Kong Classic is the only one where you can ditch the camp stove and eat all your meals at the may restaurants along the trails. Additionally, your second night is spent on a beach, I recommend leaving the tent packed up and sleeping under the stars."
"The beast! The elevation arguably makes the Classic the most challenging. Though the views are out of this world! Word of advice, start training on a stair stepper before coming to this one because you're going uphill! Something I noted, a fair amount of people don't finish this trek due to the effects they felt from the high altitude. I recommend arriving a few days early to get acclimatised."
Text: Sarah Benton