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Trekking the 2019 Fjällräven Classic

The Gear Connection

Backcountry Gearheads are our dedicated team of outdoor experts based in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah. They go above and beyond to provide a personalized service to ensure you get the right gear for what you needwhether you’re planning a thru-hike across continents or a weekend out-and-back in your local mountains.

In this series, we’re exploring how our Gearheads have helped you find your backcountry. Our third installment features Hunter Reed, a Gearhead who tempted one Backcountry customer away from the Colorado Trail to attend the Fjällräven Classic USA.

About a year ago, adventure photographer and Backcountry customer Jeff Urbahn connected with Gearhead Hunter Reed. He’d bought a puffy jacket for an ice climbing trip, and Hunter called him up to see how it was performing. 

She discovered that Jeff was also a passionate backpacker with plans to thru-hike the Colorado Trail that summer. So, when Swedish outdoor brand Fjällräven invited Hunter and a customer of her choosing to attend its three-day backpacking trek in the Rocky Mountains—right around the time that Jeff would be hiking the Colorado Trail—she had an idea. 

“As soon as I found out about the Fjällräven Classic USA, inviting Jeff seemed like the perfect thing to do,” says Hunter. “It’s pretty sweet getting the opportunity to connect with your customers like this.”

Since 2016, the Fjällräven Classic USA has brought together like-minded hikers from across the country to tackle a 30+ mile route designed to showcase the Fjällräven way of trekking: carrying everything you need on your back, in good company, while respecting nature. 

For Jeff, who was already 20 days and 260 miles into his thru-hike when Hunter’s call came in, the invitation was too good to pass up. “It was so lucky that I had service,” he explains. “I was in a hostel in Breckenridge when I got Hunter’s message. I instantly decided to take a break from the trail, packed up my gear, and took a bus to the start of the event the next morning.” 

If the message had come just a few hours later, Jeff says he would have missed the trip completely. The next leg of the trail would have taken him away from civilization—and cell reception—for at least four days.

Despite knowing each other for more than a year, Jeff and Hunter had never actually met face to face. Before they hit the trail, they got to know each other during an evening of orientation, preparation, and a big group barbecue with the other participants.

The first morning of the Fjällräven Classic kicked off with a hike through Copper Mountain towards the Tenmile Range, which encompasses 10 12,000 and 13,000-foot peaks spanning over eight miles. Wildflower meadows and expansive views of the surrounding mountains punctuated the day, as well as some serious elevation on the Wheeler Trail, which has a high point that cuts through the saddle of peaks 8 and 9, topping out at around 12,500 feet. 

The following day had more mileage in store, but along mostly flat terrain that provided ample opportunity to get to know their fellow hikers. Alongside Hunter and Jeff were over 100 people from all walks of life, and from all over the country. A night of relaxing at camp with good food and new friends rewarded their efforts. 

While the hiking is tough on the Fjällräven Classic USA, the support and guidance available to trekkers over the weekend helped break down barriers for those newer to the activity—something Hunter compares to the service provided by Backcountry’s Gearheads.

“Events like this really help people get out there and build up confidence,” Hunter explains. “It’s a super tough backpacking trip, but the whole time there’s help if you need it. Hopefully, it’ll enable people to feel like they can do things like this on their own some day, which is similar to how Gearheads help people get started with new activities.”

On the third day, the group decided to get an alpine start, rising at 4am to catch the sunrise above the treeline over the Tenmile Range. From there, it was all up, following the narrow switchback trail to the summit of Peak 6, before dropping down towards Copper Mountain and the finish line of the trek. 

With the event behind them, it was time for Jeff to head back to the Colorado Trail. After enjoying the finishing party (and a hot shower), he caught a bus to Denver, then to Gunnison, and then rejoined the group he’d left in Breckenridge to complete his 480+ mile journey to Durango. 

“It was awesome to hang out with Jeff and get to know him better,” says Hunter. “We had an amazing weekend, and we’ve already made plans to meet up in Utah later this year. Me and some friends are heading to the desert for an end-of-summer climbing trip, and hopefully he’ll be joining us there.”

Hunter says that opportunities like the Fjällräven Classic USA are one of her favorite parts of her job as a Gearhead. Getting to share in a customer’s passion for the outdoors makes it all the sweeter. “It’s so great to be in a situation where your customer is clearly stoked about being in the backcountry, and you get to share in that stoke,” says Hunter. “There were definitely some struggles and difficult elements to the weekend, with some long days and early mornings, but it was super worth it.”

Interested in participating in the Fjallraven Classic or just have a question about backpacking your local trails? You can reach out to Hunter directly at hreed@backcountry.com or contact our Gearheads anytime at 1-800-409-4502.