Balancing Innovation with Old Fashioned Hunting Habits.
Sweden. Officially the Kingdom of Sweden is the third largest country in the European Union but only has a total of 10.4 million people and a low population density of 25 inhabitants per square kilometre. 87% of Swedes live in urban areas, which covers around 1.5% of the entire land.
The general climate and environment vary greatly from South to North due to the latitudinal difference. Much of the country has very cold and snowy winters.
The South of the country is predominantly agricultural, whilst the North, which includes a portion of the Scandinavian mountains, is heavily forested.
There are around 300,000 moose living and in the spring as many as 100,000 more can be born. Every October many Swedes join the annual hunt to cull the moose that roam free across the country.
Hunting conditions in Sweden are regulated and have been since the 13th century. The three basic elements have been applied since 1988 and they are the Hunting Statutes – Jaktlagen – established by parliament and set as the overall legislation. Hunting Regulations and Hunting Administrative Provisions.
Means and methods of hunting which are not specifically mentioned in the Swedish hunting legislation are not permitted. Hunting birds of prey, hunting with a bow and hunting with hounds are all forbidden in Sweden now. Although this was not always the case.
In the mid 1950’s the Harkila kennels were founded by Lennart Davidson. Harkila farm in Vastra Gotaland had been in the possession of the Davidson family since the 17th century. Far from the maddening crowd the generations of the family had become proficient hunters and had acquired a wealth of knowledge which enabled them to hunt this wilderness.
The kennel had two breeds of dog which soon became known as prized hunting dogs. The Drever Hound and the Jamthund, also known as the Norwegian Elkhound.
Growing up through generations of hunts, people know how the game works, but it does not mean you will always win.
The tiniest sound can spook an animal, a crack of a twig, a far away birds call, a whisper on the grass or a rustle of cloth on skin and the game is lost.
Kjell Lennartsson, Lennarts son, knew that some things around hunting he would never be able to control but there were some things he could. His vision was to make clothes that were silent.
Knowing the harshness of the Scandinavian climate the clothing had a two-fold battle. It needed to be strong and tough to withstand the weather whilst also being silent so as not to disturb the prey.
BY 1985 Kjell had achieved this by producing the first hunting clothing in Scandanavia equipped with the Gore Tex membrane.
In 1987 Harkila released its Hundforarjacka or dog keeper jacket which was to become one of the brands most popular products. A soft, lightweight, and silent polar fleece jacket with a gore tex membrane which was extremely waterproof and which employees would wear whilst being hosed down by a colleague to prove the effectiveness.
Harkila soon gained notoriety around Sweden for its great products and by 1992 had exported into Norway.
From the first export into Norway, Harkila is now exporting to fifty countries including, Great Britain, France, Germany, and Russia.
In 2008 they expanded into making their own footwear range after being licensed to produce boots with built in Gore Tex membranes.
In 2010 Harkila released the Kamko fleece jacket. This reversible jacket had a high visibility colour on one side and a brown colour on the other making it a multifunctional item of clothing and a staple for any hunter's wardrobe.
In 2020 a 10th anniversary addition was released to commemorate this iconic fleece.
In 2017 Harkila had a technological breakthrough and began to produce its own membrane. The HWS or Harkila Weather System. This all singing, all dancing and all hunting membrane is not only windproof, waterproof, lightweight, breathable, and low noise but also has built in stretch enhancing the hunter’s performance of movement.
Since the invention of the HWS multiple products in the Harkila range now benefit from this type of membrane.
Another item of clothing put into production in 2017 was the revolutionary Stornoway range. Modern functionality is combined with Country Classic tweed to create a modern version of a Country staple. Using soft fabric with a printed tweed pattern the range is much lighter than a regular tweed but proves to be just as durable.
More and more hunters began to realise the benefit of camouflage and how it could increase their chances of getting closer to the game.
In 2018 Harkila developed its Axis Multi Seasonal Pattern (MSP) camouflage. This camouflage had been designed to be effective for a variety of different terrains and for different times in the hunting season.
2018 proved very innovative for Harkila as another development was the Harkila Storm Pro membrane (HSP) and had been specifically designed with the hunter in mind, being both highly durable and having built in stretch for maximum ease of movement, just like its counterpart the HWS.
2019 brought the development of products with built in heat panels. By pressing a built-in control button, the wearer can set the temperature to suit his or her preference. This innovative technique will allow the hunter longer time in the field, keeping warm in even the coldest months.
Their latest introduction has been the Wild Boar Pro range. A full-sized boar is a large and powerful animal which often have sharp tusks which they use to defend themselves. A charging boar is exceptionally dangerous due to their thick hide and dense bones, and anything less than a kill shot can potentially be a deadly mistake.
Using Harkilas VerriSteel, which is a layer of polyethylene textile, the Wild Boar range trousers have been certified by the German test institutes to protect against wild boar tusk stab wounds.
Harkila as always stood for quality, function and fit. The ambition was to make hunting clothing that raised its game to its users needs and was as much a part of the hunter as the sights and smells of the land.
The ambition was always to create the best hunting clothes, using the best materials, manufacturers, and designers. Balancing innovation with old fashioned hunting habits to produce clothing for a hunter that would choose Harkila next time they need something new.