How I Survived My First Backpacking Adventure

Beyond the Kånken: a hiking experience with Fjällräven.

Some things seem illegal but actually aren’t—like being a backpacking virgin in Vancouver (does glamping count?).

That FOMO motivated me to accept an invitation from Swedish outdoor clothing and equipment company, Fjällräven, for an overnight press trip—now the challenge was to convince myself to enjoy it. In hindsight, I was terrified, but luckily the seasoned hiking experts who accompanied our group helped me overcome my fears.

Our small cohort started the day by meeting at the Mount Pleasant Fjällräven store for some pre-hike tips, snack packs and an essential gear-fitting workshop. While we got set up with our rental backpacks, tents and sleeping bags, we also received a much-needed pep talk.

While the iconic Kånken backpack is the main reason for Fjällräven’s popularity among its North American customers, in Sweden, the brand is a religion. From winter wear to adventure clothing, Fjällräven is a household name for backpacking essentials.

We had some time to explore the Broadway store before we headed off on our adventure. The huge rainbow wall at the back is like a playground for indie kids, dotted with Kånken backpacks. If you squint hard enough, you’ll see a perfectly seamless colour gradient with every colour imaginable.

Onward and Upward

The hike we were about to embark on was the 19.2-kilometre long Half Moon Beach trail in Golden Ears Provincial Park. On the one-and-a-half hour car ride from Vancouver, there are plenty of spots to grab a hearty brunch before you start your adventure. We filled our bellies at Humble Roots, a local café and deli in Maple Ridge where I had a kale caesar wrap, fuelling me up for the journey ahead.

From the parking lot at the base of the trail, it took us about five hours to reach the camping ground at Half Moon Beach. While the terrain was mostly flat, technical parts of the trail—small creeks, rocky stretches and a few log bridges—left me a few paces behind the group. If you’re a beginner like me, it’s a good idea to bring some hiking poles for moral and physical support.

Although it was still summer, the temperature dropped considerably lower late at night and the next morning. The Fjällräven Expedition Lätt hoodie I packed helped keep me warm even when I was only wearing a t-shirt underneath (bonus: it also doubled up as my makeshift pillow at night).

The next morning, we set out early. Despite the downhill tread, I could feel my feet almost giving up on me—but the motivation from my hike buddies kept me going. When I reached the end of the trail back at the parking lot, reunited with my fellow hikers who had been patiently waiting for me, I was received with cheers and high fives. In that moment, I realized I couldn’t wait to return to the outdoors in the near future.

The Fjällräven mindset

“Inspiring the world to walk with nature” is Fjällräven’s mission. Throughout our journey, the team echoed the nature-lover mindset and encouraged everyone to make as little impact on the natural environment as possible—even if it was something as small as removing rocks to set up our tents.

The brand uses recycled and sustainable fabrics in its clothing, including the G-1000 which is a blend of recycled polyester and cotton. Since 2009, the brand is also moving towards a PFC-free product line and are closer than ever. “Everyone deserves to be comfortable and confident in the outdoors,” brand sustainability manager Kaytlin Moeller.

Here’s what I wore and carried on my journey: