Magnus Lindnor Strand is a IFMGA/UIAGM certified mountain guide living in Narvik in northern Norway and he uses a backpack every day he’s at work. His pack needs to be able to handle plenty of rough treatment – on the inside due to climbing equipment and crampons, and on the outside due to weather, rough terrain, axes and skis. Magnus and his colleagues at the Swedish Mountain Guide Association, together with Fjällräven’s product developers, have designed the Bergtagen 38 backpack – a process that has taken the best part of two years. But it’s a backpack that’s worth the wait (and hard work).

“As a mountain guide, I could hypothetically have a whole range of backpacks to suit the wide range of jobs I do, but I prefer to have only one pack and use it in both summer and winter. It has to be simple and it has to be just the right size; not too small and not too big,” says Magnus.

The goal for Bergtagen 38 was to design a versatile yet simple backpack together with Fjällräven’s team of designers. Magnus describes how being out in the mountains as frequently as he is teaches you to do more with fewer things. Unnecessary details and features often end up just getting in the way.

“As a guide, I want a simple, smart backpack. A backpack that fits well and doesn’t get in the way. Bergtagen 38 is exactly this,” says Magnus. “It’s really comfortable, and I also love that I can adjust the size of it. It’s easy to tighten the straps to make it smaller and also to remove the top lid if it isn’t needed.”

Magnus always packs a first aid kit, splints that can be used in case of injury and some rope for unplanned mishaps in the bottom of his pack. What goes in on top of this depends on what the trip involves. If it’s an approach to a climb he’ll pack his climbing ropes and equipment first, then food. Warm, water resistant down garments are packed on top so he can easily get to them when needed. If there isn’t room for the rope inside the pack, he’ll attach it to the top with straps. The wooden frame is removable so you can decide for yourself if you want to use it or not. When it’s time to climb, Magnus detaches the hipbelt or secures it behind the pack. If there is no approach and he’s climbing from the start, he’ll leave the hip belt at home.

“What might seem to be a minor detail but is one I really appreciate is the tiny keyring holder in the top lid pocket. And if I don’t have my top lid with me, there is a little pocket in the main compartment where I can stash my car keys – I don’t want to lose them out in the mountains,” says Magnus with a laugh.

When you’re choosing a backpack, it’s easy to place all your focus on weight. But you want a backpack that will last you several years, and the really lightweight packs made from thin nylon fabric won’t last for anywhere near that long.

“Bergtagen 38 has found the perfect balance between low weight and excellent longevity, which is fantastic. The new waterproof, durable Bergshell fabric can withstand regular wear and tear as well as sharp skis, crampons and axes,” he says.

When Magnus is asked what his favourite feature of the Bergtagen 38 is, he doesn’t hesitate before answering.

“I don’t know if I could choose just one feature that I like more than everything else, it is the sum of all the parts that makes it the best backpack for me.”

Text & images: Anette Andersson