The Others in Stockholm

Who better than some ace road-trippers to test our Chill Duffle, the ideal companion for every journey?
The team from Les Others, the must-read independent magazine for adventure lovers, went on a weekend to Stockholm with the Lafuma Chill Duffle. A chance to test the bag in real-life conditions but also to explore Stockholm, the green capital of Europe.

Les Others reckon it’s possible to reconcile cities, nature and adventure while consuming in a smart, responsible way. So, they’re a natural fit with Lafuma, whose Low Impact label highlights the brand’s programme of eco-designed, eco-friendly products.

Why Stockholm?

Destination-wise, Stockholm is tops for testing this kind of product? The Swedish capital is considered one of the world’s greenest cities, and was even voted “European Green Capital” in 2010. A glance at the map and you’ll see why: parks and green spaces cover 40% of the city! And there’s waste recycling, solar panels, bike lanes, rainwater harvesting… So that’s that – we’ve packed our bags for a weekend discovering Sweden’s “Grön attitude”. A trip mixing city and nature, which we went on with the Lafuma Chill Duffle. With its three carry modes it’s a convenient, efficient bag – which we tested, and approved, out on the ground!

For environmental reasons, we’d have preferred not to fly, but for a weekend trip to Stockholm it was difficult to do otherwise. So… you arrive at Arlanda, the capital’s main airport. No need to hang around: the Chill Duffle is cabin sized, and there are no formalities (EU and US nationals don’t need a tourist visa; for other countries, please check). We head straight for the Arlanda Express train, which drops us barely 20 minutes later at T-Centralen, the central station. This shuttle is the quickest, eco-friendliest way into the city centre – it uses 100% renewable electricity. An eco-aware trailblazer, Stockholm is among the European cities that emit the least greenhouse gases, preferring fossil-fuel alternatives such as solar and biofuels.

Exploring the city: walk, bike or bus?

Stockholm isn’t huge, and much of it is pedestrianised. A few minutes’ walk, with the Chill Duffle carried sling-style, and we’re already at our hotel, in the heart of the Norrmalm shopping district. We unpack our stuff and grab our Original backpack. It’s a light, comfortable unit for exploring the city, with design that harks back to the brand’s beginnings in 1936. Its outdoor looks are a terrific match for the Swedish capital – and our mindset. Although on the outbound trip we carried our laptops in a custom compartment, it can just as easily host a camera, lightweight down jacket, city guide and water bottle. Just what you need! Worth a special mention are the external pockets: you can pull out a notepad or pen in a jiffy.

We hire bikes, Stockholmers’ preferred means of transport, in a city that boasts 760 kilometres of bike lanes! We head to Djurgården Island, once a royal hunting ground, which is part of Stockholm’s Ekoparken, the world’s first national urban park. The island is practically uninhabited, but as well as forest, great stretches of grass and beaches for bathing, it also offers museums, boat hangars and little timber cottages. You could almost forget you’re in the centre of a European capital.

The green capital of Europe

We take our first Swedish lunch break in Rosendals Garden, a former landscaping school now run by a non-profit body, with fields of flowers, orchards, vegetable patches cultivated biodynamically, rose gardens, and charming large white glasshouses. The food grown there goes straight to the café kitchen – nothing must be wasted! We cherish such values, which are also embodied by another, very different Swedish speciality: second-hand things and flea markets. Here, they’re an institution. We take a short ferry ride over to Södermalm Island, and head off to explore Hornstull market with its vinyl records, porcelain, books that smell of the past, and outmoded artworks.

Urban kayaking is possible!

The next morning, a fairly left-field activity lay in store. Stockholm, which straddles the Baltic Sea and the mouth of Lake Mälar, encompasses 14 islands! Water is never far away, covering 30% of the city’s area, so no wonder it’s nicknamed “the Venice of the North”. As the Baltic is an enclosed sea, waves are rare - ideal conditions for a kayak excursion! Which is good news, because our hotel lends them out. It’s an odd experience to walk down the street carrying a kayak, but no one here seems to bat an eyelid. Once afloat, we enjoy a totally different perspective on the city.

Stockholm and its 30,000 islands

And since we’re on the water, why not stay there? This afternoon, we’re heading to the Stockholm archipelago and its… 30,000 islands! Most of them are little pockets of unspoilt wild nature: lakes, forests, beaches and colourful wooden houses. All Stockholmers have some kind of link with the archipelago. Some of them have a holiday home; others keep a boat there, for weekend fun. We set course for Utö, a small island less than two hours from the capital, easily accessible by train or boat. We make a quick hop back to the hotel to pack our Chill Duffle. Its size lets you stash everything: magazines, camera, and even a down jacket, which stays close to hand and will definitely come in handy on the shores of the Baltic! In a matter of seconds, the Chill Duffle morphs into a high-capacity backpack – very practical for switching smoothly between modes of transport.

Utö is a world away. Formerly a royal hunting ground, and now a nature reserve, the island is home to an incredible array of wildlife. Deer gambol freely just metres away from our stugas, the famous little red timber huts. Next morning, after waking to birdsong, we get ready to hike around the island – hiking is Swedes’ favourite leisure pastime. In the fir trees’ shade, and buffeted by the sea air, we’re very happy we stowed jackets and anoraks in our packs!

A stunning sunset over the Baltic rounds off our stay. This Swedish escapade was made possible by Lafuma and its products, which are equally at home in town and country. The Chill Duffle and all our Lafuma kit followed us everywhere – from city centre to deep in the woods, and from plane to train, bus, ferry, bike… and even on a kayak!