You don’t need to be a world-class explorer to recognize that there is something profoundly affecting about experiencing the vastness and unpredictability of the wild. It is at once grounding and freeing; humbling and empowering. Nothing compares to wandering through towering forests, hiking between snow-capped mountains, getting pounded by crashing waves. Even if we try to capture it or recreate it in smaller doses, it will never have the same effect as witnessing it with the naked eye. Nature leaves a mark that can’t be matched.
It was on this premise that Jack Wolfskin was founded. Now nearing its 40th anniversary, the German outdoor label’s paw print logo has been an invitation to everyone – explorers and the rest of us alike – to get outside. “We are on a quest for experiences, not peak performance,” is how the brand puts it.
Over the years Jack Wolfskin has stuck to this ethos and continuously delivered quality, no-fuss functional gear for the outdoors, with a focus on causing as little damage to the environment as possible. Jack Wolfskin’s award-winning list of environmental measures is lengthy, but digestible takeaways include that it only uses organic cotton, its clothes are 100 percent PFC-free, and its 100 percent recycled product line Texapore Ecosphere has recycled 15 million PET bottles and 36.6 tones of membrane remnants since its launch in 2018. To add to that, it has been a Fair Wear Foundation “leader” since 2014 and, this year will launch its first recycled backpack series.
To bring Jack Wolfskin’s spirit of outdoor adventure to the forefront while putting its gear to the test, we reached out to four image and content makers and invited them and their friends on a nature trip of their choice. Scroll on down to see what they got up to and what their favorite pieces of gear were.
Laura Kaczmarek has two passions in life: skateboarding and photography, which often intersect in her work. Whether her subject is a skater, architecture, or natural landscapes, photographer Kaczmarek has a razor-sharp eye for capturing just the right moment or detail to paint a much larger picture. For the project, she rounded up her friends, packed her camera, and headed for the historic castle ruins of Hohensyburg in Dortmund, Germany.
What do you love most about being in nature? Most of all I love is the sound of trees blowing in the wind. I enjoy these moments of peace and satisfaction.
What would you say is your best skill for surviving in the wild? My best skill for surviving in the wild… kickflip over a bear? I don´t know, I think I'm very good at keeping calm and pass that feeling on to other people.
My best skill for surviving in the wild… kickflip over a bear?
What are your top three tips for anyone heading into the wilderness? Wear solid footwear, always have a second pair of socks with you, and don‘t plan too much – just discover.
The bathroom situation when you’re exploring with a group of friends can be tricky. Any advice? First, before it starts, mention again at least five times that now is the last chance to be able to go to the toilet properly. It’s best to repeat this until you have received the title “Mama”. But honestly, you´ll always find a possibility to go to the toilet, especially in nature.
What were your favorite Jack Wolfskin products you tried out on the trip and why? We didn’t have the best weather during our trip and that’s why our favorites are definitely the Outdoor Protection Pants along with the Hermetic Pouch pocket for your mobile phone and other important stuff that shouldn’t get wet ... so the rain couldn‘t stop us. The Hydration Bottles also, they kept our tea and coffee warm all day long. Another small highlight is the Allspark Backpack, which lights up with LED technology. Perfect for when it gets darker.
Selma Kaci Sebbagh
“During lockdown, I spent hours on Pinterest looking for new places to explore for whenever I would have a chance to travel again,” Paris-based creative director Selma Kaci Sebbagh wistfully recalls. Sebbagh’s plans for travel ground to halt with Covid-19 and on one of her virtual travel browsing sessions of Colorado – a place she’s always dreamed of visiting – she stumbled across Le Colorado Provençal de Rustrel (in English, The Provençal's Colorado). Located in the South of France, the region is a former ochre quarry now known for its striking red rock formations, which made the perfect backdrop to Sebbagh's images.
What are your three tips for anyone heading into the wilderness? Be aware of your own capabilities and don’t overestimate yourself. This can be very dangerous. As human beings, we always think we can do everything but the wildness proved me wrong often. The second tip is probably to take time to study the area, check the weather, make sure you’re prepared. My last tip would be to enjoy your time as much as you can!
Selma Kaci Sebbagh
Be aware of your own capabilities and don’t overestimate yourself.
How do you make sure to minimize your impact on the environment while you travel? I’m super, super careful of my environment and I was happy to see that my friends are too. I have a very strict minimal plastic policy, which makes it easier for me to minimize the impact that I have on the environment. I recommend that everyone be really respectful of the place you stay, it’s always such a shock when you are in the wild and you find other people’s trash.
Advice for picking a spot to pitch a tent? I’ve learned that wind can be your worst nightmare when you pitch a tent. I would advise that you always make sure that the wind does not strike directly on the tent. If you are in the wind, it can be dangerous, especially during the assembly of the tent!
What were your fvorite three Jack Wolfskin products you tried out on the trip and why? That’s easy! The Kole 0.35 Bottle. An absolute must. I was so impressed by its insulation performance, it really keeps your drink warm all day! As a person who drinks coffee all day, this is fantastic. After this very obvious first answer, I would say my Kingsway fleece gilet. It was a crush for everyone and all the crew had one. Pretty sure we mixed up these jackets many times! The last product would be the down jacket that is made with 100 percent recycled main fabrics! It’s super cozy and I love the patchwork pattern.
Photographer, model, designer, and skater – Steffen Grap is a central figure in Berlin’s creative scene. Born and raised in Berlin but accustomed to working with clients from further afield, for the team up with Jack Wolfskin he looked close to home for his adventure. “Germany offers so many amazing must-visit natural landscapes scattered throughout the country, why not take advantage of it,” he said. With a group of friends, he headed to the Elbe Sandstone Mountains that run the border with the Czech Republic for three days of hiking, climbing, and camping.
What are your top three tips for anyone heading into the wilderness? My top three tips are: take a checklist, keep it simple, lightweight, and portable. Secondly, test out your kit before you hit the road. Finally, put your phone away, be curious and excited.
My top three tips are: take a checklist, [...] test out your kit before you hit the road, [...] put your phone away, be curious and excited.
Any “culinary” tips for hiking/camping? How to keep your beer cold? No problem when it’s zero degrees outside. Get a camping cooker to warm things and take a good friend who knows how to start a fire.
What would you say is your best nature survival skill? A good mood, and yes, even if there’s a bear standing in front of you.
What’s the best song for hiking, wandering, cruising through the countryside? Joachim Witt, “Goldener Reiter” from 1981.
Favorite three Jack Wolfskin products you tried out on the trip and why? Firstly, the Termo Bottle Grip, just the fact to drink hot tea whenever you want is so luxurious during a hiking trip! Then, the Skyrocket Dome Tent, so easy to pitch it! And also the 3-in-1 jacket, it’s made for all kinds of situations.
Julien Boudet is no stranger to adventure. Just before lockdown hit, he took a tour through Europe, documenting his travel and doing fashion shoots along the way. The French photographer, better known by his Instagram handle @bleumode, lives between Paris and Marseille and chose the Parc de la Vanoise situated close to Switzerland for his trip. “The highlight of the trip was this incredible lake we found while hiking, it was so surreal that it looked almost fake,” he tells excitedly. “Nobody was there, just us and this huge lake in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by mountains.”
What do you love most about being in nature? What I love most is definitely the feeling of freedom, you have no service on your phone, you are just there admiring the beauty of nature and enjoying these moments with friends; it’s really great.
What are your top three tips for anyone heading into the wilderness? I am not an expert but my top three tips would be: do the right casting for your group; do bring as much water as possible; don’t bring your favorite sneakers with you.
What I love most [about being in nature] is definitely the feeling of freedom.
Any tips for getting around the lack of bathrooms? Be ready to walk 10 minutes away from your friends, depending on your level of shyness of course.
How about to minimize your impact on the environment while you travel? Get an extra empty bag for all the trash so you don’t leave anything behind.
What’s the best song to trek to? Kanye West, “The College Drop Out.”
What were your favorite Jack Wolfskin items? The baseball cap is really cool, I am a big fan of caps in general but this one is really comfortable and cozy. Also, the Atmosphere Jacket is super light, warm, and looks great in blue, I wore it a lot during the trip. Last but not least, the Nanuk Print Loop was always around my neck when we were outside exploring, it’s so useful and is a great accessory to complete the Jack Wolfskin full look!
Shop Jack Wolkskin’s latest collection here.