Gear from Sweden has a tendency to work well in a lot of North America — just look at the prevalence of Fjallraven. Now Garphyttan, a young brand with roots in bushcraft and self-reliance, is bringing its rugged pants and coats to the U.S. and Canada.
Garphyttan. Say that one five times fast! But beneath the puzzling name (Garphyttan is a small village in Sweden, and also a National Park) are some of the toughest, most functional pants, jackets, and accessories we’ve used in recent years.
Born out of bushcrafting and hunting necessity, the brand offers cargo-style pants and rugged jackets and accessories meant for trekking, woodcraft, and general heavy-duty outdoor use.
In short: I put a few pieces from the brand to the test over the spring in Colorado and have been generally pleased. I also caught up with Johan Skullman, the founder who also serves as a designer and tester for the brand, to learn more about its inspiration.
Skullman, who worked for Fjallraven and Hestra among other brands, helped launch Garphyttan to fill a perceived hole in the market — a need for very durable clothing for people living in the countryside. This clothing needed to stand up to the daily rigors of life in the outdoors. And it needed to accomplish its goals simply.
Here are my first impressions of a few products from the brand.
Garphyttan Specialist Trouser Review
Before I get into my review of the Garphyttan trousers, a quick note about the brand. It divides its lines into three categories: Crafter, Specialist, and Original. Crafter aims for those who work around home or shops with mechanical stretch fabrics and a lighter construction.
Specialist focuses on traditional, trekking, and hiking uses. These are reinforcement layers against cold, insulation, heavy wind, and rain. Finally, the Original line has a more traditional style of clothing like smocks and anoraks.
Garphyttan makes some very tough pants. Right off the bat, I was impressed with the Specialist Trouser. The water-resistant polyester-cotton blend fabric feels very tough in the hands. Put these pants on and you notice many pockets strategically placed for tools and everyday carry gear like knives, keys, and phones.
I used these pants several times over the spring and really loved the design. They have a long zipper on the side of the leg for ventilation, as well as built-in bootstraps that allow them to function as gaiters. But while these pants are super tough, they allow for good mobility with a gusseted crotch and stretch fabrics in the seat, crotch, and knees.
My only criticism is that the hip pocket is a bit small for phones. This forces me to put my phone on the thigh pocket. It works OK there, and there’s a built-in stretch pocket that secures the phone against my thigh. But it can work its way down to my knee and can be a little uncomfortable. It’s a small ding against otherwise awesome pants.
As trekking or work pants, these are ready to thrash through brush or get down and dirty and should hold up to serious abuse while protecting the wearer.
Garphyttan Crafter Pro Pile Fleece Review
Having worn the Garphyttan Crafter Pro Pile Fleece for much of the spring, I can say it definitely gets compliments. It reminds me of the thick pile fleeces of the early 2000s and has big pockets and texture variation that draws eyes. I guess that’s a complicated way of saying “it’s cool.”
But it is also practical. The shaggy fleece proved to keep me warm and dry as an external layer on nice days in Colorado’s wintery spring. That means 30-degree temps and little wind or precipitation.
It should also work well as a layer under a shell. Like the pants, the jacket provides ample storage: double chest pockets, hand pockets, and sleeve pockets give secure zippered stows. Under the sleeves, you will also find unique armpit pockets that work well for smaller items like sunglasses.
The shaggy fleece provides good insulation and dries quickly. If you’ve worn thick pile fleece like this before, you know what to expect in terms of warmth. It’s not particularly wind-resistant, so plan to layer over it if you face a lot of wind. The 100% polyester is proven as a great material for jackets.
Garphyttan Available Now
Whether Garphyttan makes inroads in the competitive North American market is hard to tell. The products are well made and competitively priced. They should appeal to those who enjoy rugged apparel, particularly the bushcraft crowd and some campers, anglers, and hunters.