Specialized and Fjällräven team up for a most unlikely collaboration

What’s the connection between hiking and riding bikes? Sweden.

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“Inspiring the world to walk with nature.”

That’s the mission statement for iconic Swedish outdoor brand Fjällräven, maker of a wide range of clothing and accessories for that European favorite pastime of trekking (though perhaps best known for its signature Kånken backpack). 

Starting today, however, Fjällräven — a company that, up until now has been solely dedicated to activities on foot — is embarking on a long-term collaboration with Specialized for a growing range of cycling clothing and accessories to help people explore “The Great Nearby.”

Specialized and Fjällräven aren’t talking yet about what’s to come, but there are clearly more products in the pipeline based on some of the marketing images. To be clear, the bike shown here isn’t a secret; it’s a current Specialized Sequoia. But that top tube bag and bottle holder? That’s more interesting. Note the flat pedals, too, which provides some hint as to the expected users of this new range of gear.

The first round of products include a variety of soft goods, all in classic Fjällräven colors. There’s an anorak, a handful of semi-technical tops, hats and socks, a couple of packs, and a neat little pannier that goes together with those packs, but more products are apparently coming later in the season. All of the new items will be offered on both company’s web sites, as well as select physical retail locations for both brands.

Versatile clothing

At first glance, the new collection of clothing doesn’t come across as cycling-specific, but that’s entirely by design. 

Headlining the range is an anorak — otherwise known as a pullover — made with a mix of Fjällräven’s trademark G-1000 polyester/cotton blend on the chest and the front of the sleeves for a more natural-feeling hand, and stretch materials elsewhere for a more functional fit on the bike. There are a couple of chest pockets for storage (and a hidden zippered Napoleon pocket behind one of those), a longer tail and shorter front for a bike-friendly fit, and long two-way zippers along the lower sides for adjustability ventilation and to make the top a little easier to get on and off. 

Specialized and Fjällräven are clearly going for a fun vibe here.

Although the anorak isn’t billed as waterproof, it is apparently somewhat wind- and water-resistant, and there’s also a foldaway hood hidden inside the collar if you need a bit more protection. 

Going along with that anorak are a pair of wool-blend T-shirts (surely in an effort to keep the stink at bay while you’re out on your multi-day journey in The Great Nearby), a couple of different hats, wool socks, and even a scarf. 

The wool t-shirts are offered in both subdued solid colors or a fun “CaliSwede” print.

All of the clothing items are offered in men’s and women’s cuts, and are supposedly available starting today.

Retail prices are as follows (Australian pricing TBC):

 — Anorak: US$300 / £265 / €300

 — Wool T-shirts: US$80-90 / £70-80 / €80-90

 — Hats: US$40-50 / £35-45 / €40-50

 — Socks: US$25 / £22 / €25

 — Scarf: US$30 / £25 / €30

An intriguing twist on the classic pannier

Although the majority of the new Specialized x Fjällräven releases are restricted to soft goods, there’s one exception: the Cool Cave pannier (yes, that’s really what it’s called).

Whereas most panniers are constructed much like old-school framed backpacks with a soft body and some sort of frame to attach it to a rack, the Cool Cave (US$60 / £70 / €80) uses a fully rigid body that’s made of molded plastic. On the back is the KlickFix system commonly used by a variety of pannier brands for a secure attachment and quick-and-easy removal (which, unfortunately, also means quick-and-easy theft if that’s something you worry about).

The Cool Cave is a neat variant of the classic pannier. The top cleverly turns into a sling bag, but the main molded plastic body also reminds me of a small garbage can. In case you’re wondering, yes, there’s a pluggable drain hole in the bottom.

If you prefer more of a closed format, that plastic body can be paired with a Cave Lid Pack (US$70 / £65 / €70) that’s once again made of Fjällräven’s G-1000 material and secures with a couple of straps and standard plastic buckles. That lid can be quickly removed, and also turns into a wearable bag. If you want to get even fancier, there are also two bags that are custom-sized to fit perfectly inside the Cool Cave. Surely not by coincidence, the Cave Pack backpack (US$130 / £115 / €130) is a close cousin to the Fjällräven Kånken pack, while the Cave Tote (US$70 / £65 / €70) is more of a simple open-topped fabric bag with a pair of grab handles and a shoulder strap — seemingly perfect for grocery shopping. 

As with the rest of the Specialized x Fjällräven collection, the Cool Cave and all of the matching accessories are offered in several classic Fjällräven colors. 

The unexpected connection, and the unanswered question

In terms of how this collaboration came to be, it’s a pretty simple explanation. 

You see, Fjällräven is a big deal in Europe, but especially in its home country of Sweden. Running point on Specialized’s side for this project was equipment design leader Erik Nohlin. And where did Nohlin grow up? You got it. Basically, Nohlin got to fulfill one of his lifelong goals of getting to work with one of his favorite childhood brands. 

On the Fjällräven side, though, the impression I get is that the company was looking to expand beyond its current demographic of walking/hiking/trekking, and from a brand and marketing perspective, Specialized was clearly one of the top picks of a brand with whom to partner. 

The bigger question, however, is whether this works — or if it makes sense. 

I’m planning to dive deeper into this hiking-plus-biking concept that the two companies are pitching here, as it’s a combination that has historically been fraught with controversy. Can the two activities really get along? Specialized and Fjällräven certainly hope so, and given the rise in more casual two-wheeled outdoor exploration brought on by the growing popularity of adventure bikes and bikepacking, maybe the idea actually has some legs. The two companies are obviously hoping that’s the case, if for no other than the fact there’s clearly a lot more to come from this collaboration given the teasers of upcoming product embedded in some of the marketing images.

We’ll see how this goes, but I dare say that it sure wouldn’t hurt if the bike industry got into the habit of taking itself less seriously.

More information can be found at www.specialized.com and www.fjallraven.com.

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