The blog entry you’re about to read is mostly about the organizational part of the Fjällräven Classic event as I experienced it as a participant and not about the hike itself. If you want to learn more about the Kungsleden trail itself, there will another article about this soon.
So, after having bought the ticket for the trek in northern Sweden I soon started to gather pieces of information about how to get to Kiruna itself and how to the registration centre of the classic and what will expect me in the starting area.
Unfortunately, Fjällräven is not very communicative on this part and it is more or less tricky to get some reliable information about the sequence of events.
First of all, when arriving at the train station in Kiruna I was very glad to see that there were already busses waiting for us next to the train station, which were organized by Fjällräven. This was not clarified in advance, so I was very happy with the lift to the registration centre.
The registration centre we were then brought to is situated next to the Camping called “Camp Ripan”.
On the campsite, you can stay for a night or two in your tent for a fee of around 25€ and you are allowed to use the bathrooms, eating rooms and so on. Camp Ripan has nothing to do with Fjällräven, but it is very recommendable to stay here, as it is just 50 meters away from the registration centre. Additionally, the busses which will take you to Nikkaluokta wait here as well for the hikers on departure times. The departure times of those busses are displayed in the registration centre.
Now to the registration centre itself: To register yourself at the centre you have to show your registration number at the registration desk at the entrance. This registration number will be sent to you by email 3 to 7 days in advance.
At the registration desk, you will then receive a map, your logbook, a reusable bag for your waste, gas, trekkers bread and food for the first days.
Again here it was not clarified that food for the whole trek was provided for the hikers and that one could restock on food and gas stocks on 2 or 3 points during the hike itself. On the online site, there was only a phrase going something like this “food for hikers will be provided in a limited amount”. Due to this formulation, I thought that maybe it would be better to bring my own stuff, as I didn’t want to end up hungry in the end. But in fact, enough dry meals are provided by Fjällräven and the meals provided (from Turmat-meals) are very delicious and I ended up not eating my own stuff.
In the yard in front of the registration centre, Fjällräven put up the storages for you additional luggage which is transported to Abisko. You can only hand in your additional luggage after having registered yourself. The starting number and one’s name has to be written on a tag fixed to the luggage. This tag will also be handed out with the package handed out at the registration.
In the registration centre, you can as well have a nice cup of coffee and a piece of cake while chatting with other hikers arriving there. As I arrived early in the morning with the train I had the whole day for chitchatting. A little shop is a well set up by Naturcompaniet and you can buy nearly everything that you could possibly need there, as long as stocks last, if you forgot to pack anything.
If you don’t consider taking the train back from Abisko to Kiruna you can already buy your bus ticket at the registration desk as well. Unfortunately, this costs 20€, which I think is a bit overpriced for an hour bus drive.
To the beginning of the adventure: As I registered for the first starting wave I already had to get up around 4 o’clock in the morning on the next day. At this point, I would not recommend buying tickets for a first starting group of each day as you really have to get up early and you already start kind of weary into the day. As it does not really get dark it is no problem to start later in the day and continue walking until the evening.
What followed was the bus drive to Nikkaluokta where the official start of the classic took place. At the start area, we had nearly two hours of time left to make some last preparations or have a coffee at the station. If I hadn’t already enjoyed my breakfast I could have had a meal here at the station in Nikkaluokta. Finally at 9 o’clock, after having received our first stamp in the logbook, the countdown initiated and we took off into the wilderness of the Kungsleden trail. Aside from the stamp, an orange Safety Tag is handed out, which should be attached to the top of your backpack.
Our target for the first day was the Kebnekaise Fjällstation. At the Station, they set up a Tippi tent for the Fjällräven participants and trekkers are allowed to use the restrooms in the basement of the station. In the tent, one can get the stamp for the logbook entry and the Sami offered some very delicious cinnamon bread. In the tent, you can as well buy some drinks, beer and other snacks. I decided to set up my tent in the surroundings of the Fjällstation as I had made plans to climb on the Kebnekaise Mountain.
Along the hike, you will pass a couple more of those stations. Often the checkpoints of the Fjällräven Classic are also located near these stations. At this point, I should mention that using the bedrooms of the stations is forbidden for Fjällräven Classic participants. Otherwise, you will be disqualified if someone notices. Furthermore, it is also forbidden to leave your trash at these huts and that’s the reason why Fjällräven hands out the reusable trash bags to all hikers. On the other hand, one is allowed to sit down at those stations for coffee or tea and one can also buy food in these stations and use their toilets.
At the checkpoints, we were also often offered food by the Fjällräven Classic volunteers. Apart from the cinnamon bread which we got at the Kebnekaise station, they provided a swedish chocolate cake, pancakes and reindeer falafel to us. As the weather was not always great in the summer of 2018 this was always very motivating.
After five days of hiking, we finally made it to Abisko and we were greeted by the Fjällräven team and all the other hikers being in the finishing area. In the finisher area, we also received the patch from Fjällräven Classic Sweden and they handed out little medals for all the people who made it. In the finishing area, they set up a tent where you can buy yourself something to eat and grab a beer or ten. In the evening there is a live band playing super cool music and we spend a great last evening above the polar circle.
The finish is located in front of the Abisko mountain station, where you can finally sleep in a normal bed. It is recommended to book this in advance as the mountain station is full with Fjällräven Classic hikers.
Overall the Fjällräven Classic Sweden was very well organized by the Fjällräven team. The one and only thing that is left to criticize is that the course of events and the services offered should be better clarified on their website. In my opinion, the pricing for the participation is totally justified, as the meals offered are really top notch and the volunteers are very friendly and supporting on the overall hike. Even when it was cold and rainy we were greeted with a smile on their faces. All in all, I spend a unique week in northern Sweden and would not hesitate to hike again with Fjällräven on any of their classic events.