John Muir said it best:
In every walk with nature one receives far more than he/she seeks.
Nature is the fresh dew that evaporates from spring-green grass. It’s the long summer sunsets that bathe the ocean’s rolling waves in golden light. It’s the transition into autumn that sets forests on fire with colour. And it’s the silent snowfall that steadily blankets even the steepest of mountains. Nature is everything and without it, we’d be nothing.
Since Fjällräven was founded in 1960, we’ve been on a long, wondrous trek – a walk with nature. And this walk has been largely uninhibited. That’s because here in Sweden there is a law, a public right, called Allemansätten. This strange sounding word (at least to Anglophiles) has helped shaped Sweden and our views on nature as well as how we interact with it. This public right defines our legal right to roam through nature, always treating it with respect.
It’s not a completely foreign idea to other countries. There are various Right of Public Access laws across the globe, but each one varies – often quite significantly – from the next. What’s so special in Sweden is the right to cross – and even camp on – private land. We can forage for foods like berries and mushrooms. We can pick wildflowers and herbs. It encourages us to wander deeper into forests, higher up mountains, to pack everything we need on our backs and set our own trail with compass and map. We go out in snowy winters, rainy springs, sunny summers and windy autumns. We make the most of the nature that is all around us; the place that doesn’t judge us; the place where we can feel free.
But of course with such freedoms must come some responsibilities. Part of allemansrätten is to take care of nature. We must not ‘disturb or destroy’ the nature we are there to enjoy. We must leave the campsite as we found it, or in even better shape. We must not break branches from living trees for our fires, but instead take dead branches. And we must never exploit nature for our own gain.
As such, allemansrätten has shaped Fjällräven and, in many ways, helped establish us as the go-to outdoor company for Swedes during the sixties, seventies and eighties. Right from the beginning we didn’t just want to be an outdoor gear brand. We wanted to help, inspire and encourage others to go out and experience nature to make the most of the free, open and wild landscape that surrounds us. We continue to do this with our events Fjällräven Classic and Fjällräven Polar, but also – we hope – by considering nature when we design our clothing and camping gear.
How To Adapt Allemansrätten To Where You Are
You might not be able to pitch a tent wherever you fancy in your country. Picking flowers, berries and mushrooms might be off limits too. So you should always check what local laws are in place. But here are three ways you can adapt allemansrätten to where you live.
- Leave the camp in better condition than you found it. A big part of allemansrätten is to preserve the countryside for others. So pick up litter when you see it. Don’t drop any litter of your own. And make sure you leave your campsite in good shape. The most important thing is to act responsibly.
- Do not disturb or destroy. This is the fundamental rule of allemansrätten and similar laws around the world. And it’s easy to follow. Don’t break branches from living trees. Don’t disturb wild animals. Don’t drive cars or mopeds on walking paths. And don’t make unnecessary noise.
- Get outside more often. Allemansrätten comes with responsibilities, but its main reason for being is to make it easier to cross through the countryside. So we encourage you to spend more days – and nights – outdoors in nature and travel by your own means. Enjoy the wonders of nature and inspire others to get out and make the most of its simple pleasures.
Text: Sarah Benton