Sophie Nicholson: Halti has been around for 45 years but it’s still a relatively unknown brand here in the UK. Can you give us a bit of an intro to the company and what it’s all about?
Mikko Savolainen: Halti began in 1976 with one sole mission in mind – to create innovative products that could connect people with the outdoors more easily.
What followed is a long history of firsts: The legendary aluminium-frame Halti 100 and 200 backpacks, which went on to lighten the load of countless trekkers. Our revolutionary fibre-fill sleeping bags and nylon tents challenged conventional thinking and helped end damp and uncomfortable mornings for campers. Our high-tech DrymaxX fabric continues to keep countless people dry and comfortable whatever the conditions.
We’ve equipped and sponsored many of the world’s top athletes across all of our product categories. From the elite in various Alpine and Nordic winter sports, to adventure racers and outdoor professionals, including the likes of mountain guides and explorers, Halti has been there as a trusted guide.
Over the past 45 years our gear has been used in some of the most starkly beautiful and unforgiving places on Earth. We’re one of the few companies that’s equipped expeditions to all of ‘the three poles’ – the North Pole, the South Pole, and Mount Everest. At Halti, we’re continuing this heritage by inspiring all people to experience nature at its best.
SN: Where are your current biggest markets?
MS: At the moment Finland is still our biggest market, but we are currently growing a lot in DACH region, especially in Germany. We see also a lot of potential in the UK market and are aiming to have a solid presence in the UK in the next few years.
SN: From the likes of yourself to Norrøna, Haglöfs, Helly Hansen and Peak Performance, it’s fair to say that the Nordics are home to some super-successful ski and outdoor brands. Where does Halti fit in this mix and how would you describe your typical consumer?
MS: This is true, I think the reason for this is that here in the Nordics we are really close to nature. We are strong brand in Finland, but in international markets we still relatively small. We are on mission to grow internationally.
Halti is for active people who value the outdoors, who seek peak moments where they can be one with nature. People who desire an escape from stressful lifestyles to find deeper meaning and harmony with the world around them.
SN: You guys sponsor the Finnish Nordic ski teams and have been providing gear to FIS – since 2007. How valuable are these kind of associations to your brand?
MS: They have been incredibly valuable for us. It has been a great statement for us that the professionals are wearing our products and been happy with it through the toughest of mountain weather. In the UK, we have partnered with the Scouts – to have outdoor professionals trust Halti apparel is essential to build trust and credibility in the market along with building awareness across winter and summer outdoor activities.
SN: And on the subject of partnerships, we see that you guys are now collaborating with the UK’s very own Graham Bell. Can you tell us a bit more about how this came about?
MS: We see Graham as a great ambassador/partner for us in the UK. We share the same values and passion for skiing and as a five-time Olympian, he will also help us to increase our brand awareness in UK so we are happy to provide him with great gear to tackle the toughest mountain conditions.
SN: Sustainability is a hugely important to Halti. What does being sustainable mean to you and where are you on the journey towards your goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2022?
MS: For us the environment is at the core of everything we do. Our brand exists to connect people with nature, and with Think Ahead, Halti’s sustainable development program, we take responsibility for our social, environmental and financial footprints.
We focus on many areas of sustainability, including:
- Bluesign System Partnership helps us to monitor our chemical safety
- All our DWR treatments are PFC-free
- We are committed to increasing recycled and renewable materials in our collections. Currently 96% of items in our apparel collection are using recycled material
- We want to design items that support circular design. Our items are long-lasting, durable and repairable made by recycled materials. To give an example, 90% of our Kallio range is made of monomaterial, that supports recycling at the end of its lifetime
- By choosing to prolong the lifetime of our products and opting for recycled materials, we ensure the product carbon footprint is also as small as possible
- We are carbon neutral by our own operations as of the end of 2022. WWF Green Office Environmental Management system helps us to reduce our emissions efficiently. Our HQ only uses renewable energy and we have solar panels installed in our office
SN: Does using recycled materials reduce the longevity of a product or is it possible to create genuinely long-lasting AND sustainable products?
MS: Sustainability is always about trade-offs between best practice, durability, repairability and financial issues. We aim to produce the most sustainable products, but do not compromise durability in the process. When choosing recycled materials, we need to consider performance and durability. For example, sometimes it’s necessary to increase recycled material content one step at a time to ensure fabric performance properties are not compromised.
SN: Committing to sustainability can be an expensive process. How important is to you to create genuinely sustainable and affordable gear?
MS: It is important to us to work together with the industry to solve the big challenges of today. We are actively working with SOG, EOG, FIBS and our national FTAF to work on the environmental and social issues of our industry.
We have clear sustainability KPIs we follow on a seasonal basis that include recycled material usage, BlueSign material usage, PFC-free treatment monitoring, monomaterial percentage in the collection, as well as solution dye goals.
SN: From activewear to footwear, camping gear to technical ski clothing – you guys produce a super diverse spectrum of kit. Which of your many product ranges are the most popular?
MS: Apparel is our most popular range, in summer outdoor and in winter skiwear. Footwear has also become more popular as consumers are looking for more sustainable options across all outdoor products.
SN: Are there any particular new products that you are excited about this winter and can you give us any sneak peeks of what we might see in the future?
MS: I’m really excited about our new ski touring line, which was launched for this year. Especially our Alpine three-layer jacket, with nano technology membrane. With this nano technology we can achieve outstanding breathability. For next season you will see a completely new skiwear collection from us, I’m really looking forward to it hitting the stores. In contains great items, made from 100% recycled materials.
SN: And finally, what does Halti mean?
MS: Halti is a fell at the border between Finland and Norway. It’s located at northern part of the Finland in Lapland. It is also the highest point in Finland.