Norrona WInter Ski
Photo Courtesy of Norrona

Norrøna is an exciting Norwegian brand on the rise.  It produces premium clothing and backpacks for a variety of outdoor activity including mountaineering, skiing, snowboarding, mountainbiking, trail running, hunting and extreme adventures that test the limits of the human body.  Its Norwegian heritage is its guiding force informing both the clothing’s function and quality – principles that continue to form the backbone of the Norrona Winter outerwear brand today.

There is a beautiful simplicity in the image its clothing projects.  The functioning elements like zippered pockets and pull strings stand out boldly against the vast open terrain of the jackets weather-proof materials.  A dynamic color palette differentiates the Norrøna “look” from all others.  Entering into one of their flagship stores – such as Norrøna Omontesando in Tokyo – delivers all the excitement of a nostalgic trip to an old childhood candy store.  Dynamic colors burst into view,  one’s attention is held by the unique Scandinavian palette on display.  The ramped up adrenalin of finding something new and exciting is tempered only by the remarkable refinement on display in each garment.  It is rare for a product to instill such confidence in its quality while at the same time casting the appearance of being very new.  How is this dichotomy of values bridged in an old brand like Norrøna?

There is a common thread that runs from my great-grandfather’s first ideas to Norrøna in its current form. The thread is one of design, function and quality. 

Jørgen Jørgensen,  CEO Norrøna

Going back deep into Norrøna’s history one can point to where it all began – in 1933 simple yet progressive innovations like adding leather straps or using canvas as a material for backpacks distinguished NORRØNA WINTER OUTERWEAR from its competitors.  As simple as they may seem today it set the tone for Norrøna’s philosophical direction – keep searching for the very best available technology and you will create the ultimate performance products.

Now on its 4th generation of leadership, Norrøna continues as a family-owned and run company still headquartered near Oslo, Norway.   Like many great companies with humble origins, the continuity of familial leadership allows the company to inherit the vision of it’s forefathers which in turn allows it to advance unimpeded.

By controlling the operational activities NORRØNA can experiment and refine the technical details without corporate red tape slowing it down.  The ability to scale from concept to creation in-house creates a synergy between designers and craftsmen that is the foundation on top of which NORRØNA pushes its innovation.  They coined their design principle ” Loaded Minimalism™”.

Norrøna winter clothing has been part of extreme expeditions to the North Pole and South Pole, Mount Everest and the Great Trango Tower in the Karakoram.  Not in the least, Norrøna has been at the forefront of alpine style climbing in Alaska, Patagonia and Antarctica. Our ambassadors help push the envelope of what is possible in skiing and snowboarding, mountain biking, climbing and polar expeditions.

A technical guide to Lofoten Alpha Jacket. Presented by Allen Coney from Polartec


Our drive for practical purity produces pioneering benchmarks. We created the original mountain tunnel tent (1972), devised the standard monitoring system for backpacks (1979), and were the first company to use Gore-Tex® in Europe (1977).

1929 – On the 29th of April, 1929, Jørgen Jørgensen starts up J.J Norrøna Sporting goods and leather factory in Fredensborgveien 11. The ambition was to make the highest quality outdoor products. He is accompanied by the two sewers Solveig Olsen and Ingrid Ramstad from Polar. Quality still remains as one of most important building blocks in the company today.

1933 – The production focused on backpacks, tents and some leather articles. Sleeping bags and outdoor garments also became part of the collection. But 1929 was not the perfect year to start a company, and the company went bankrupt in 1933.

1934 – Already in 1934 Jørgensen started the company back up again, and towards the end of the 30’s business is developing well. The company moves to a new location in Grensen 7, downtown Oslo. At this time you could buy a backpack for 9 NOK’s.

1939 – Norrøna manufactures products for the war in Finland. The company has about 15 employees, and salaries are paid every Friday.

1948 – The company management is taken over by Bjarne Jørgensen, second generation Jørgensen to lead the company.

My great-grandfather, grandfather and father all believed that Norrøna had to create products with the best possible design, cutting-edge functionality and the highest quality. They believed that product development had to be driven by the bravest among us; those who dare to think new; those who take on extreme adventures. That is what we still believe.  Welcome to nature.

Jørgen Jørgensen,  CEO Norrøna

1971 – Company management is taken over by Ole Jørgen Jørgensen, third generation Jørgensen to lead the company. Tomas Carlstrøm (the founder of Skandinavisk Høyfjellsutstyr, which became the best known mountaineering store in Scandinavia) was employed as a freelance product developer, while focus was directed towards active development of backpacks and mountain tents, as well as mountain garments. As new products were established, existing trading activities were reduced accordingly. Functionality was now introduced as the second building block of the company.

1976 – Skarstind tunnel tent was launched. Cotton mountain jacket and pants, also an Arktis wind pant were made. The company changed it’s name to Norrøna Sport AS.

1977 – Norrøna makes the prototype of Europe’s first Gore-Tex jacket. We missed the Birkebeiner in the logo, so Kjell Witberg made a new sterilised edition of this:

NORRONA Trollveggen Suit
First Winter Climb of “Jubileumsruta” – Courtesy of Norrona

1979 –  The first winter climb of “Jubileumsruta”- Østpillaren on the Store Midtmnaradalstind (Ulf Geir Hansen, Hans Christian Doseth and Ketil Svanemyr). On the trip a prototype of the Trollveggen suit was tested. The first winter climb of “svenskeruta” in Trollveggen was climbed by Hans Christian Doseth and Håvard Nesheim.

1984 – The “Great Trango Tower” expedition with Hans Chr. Doseth, Finn Dæhli, Dag Kolsrud and Stein P. Aasheim. Hans Chr. and Finn finished the most technically demanding great wall in the world. Norrøna supplied a large number of garments and backpacks for the expedition.

Norrøna Arktis Cotton Garments
Erling Kagge goes solo to the South Pole with Norrøna Winter “Arktis” garments

1992 – Erling Kagge goes solo to the South Pole with Norrøna “Arktis” garments. Per Einar Bakke, Willy Gautvik and Arild Vegrim are the first people crossing the Arctic Ocean from Siberia across the North Pole to Canada, bringing all supplies with them. For this extreme challenge they chose shell clothing from Norrøna. (You can read about this expedition in their book:”100 døgn over polhavet”). They used the Norrøna “Arktis” cotton garments for this expedition

2004 – The launch of our Lofoten concept takes place, introducing a radical new direction for freeride skiing.

First edition of the Svalbard Pro Shell Jacket
Robert Caspersen is the first to ascend a number of peaks at Queen Maud Land (Antarctica)

2006 – Robert Caspersen is the first to ascend a number of peaks at Queen Maud Land (Antarctica), among these is the northern wall of “Ulvetanna”. Børge Ousland reaches The North Pole on the 23rd of March. This is one of his toughest expeditions ever. The first edition of the svalbard Pro Shell jacket and pants are tested on this trip.

2007 – Børge Ousland´s expedition in Nansens footsteps to Franz Josefs land, tests and perfects the svalbard Pro Shell set. Norrøna launches the new lofoten collection, including the lofoten Pro Shell One Piece

Norrøna WInter Lofoten Jacket
Photo Courtesy of Norrøna

Norrøna states emphatically that they strive to impose as little harm as possible to the environment all throughout their supply chain.  Choosing environmentally friendly materials wherever possible is an easy phrase to add to product ads and pamphlets but a company actually does on a daily basis is the real measure of commitment to both the citizens and Earth.  So what exactly does Norrøna do when it comes to managing the Earth’s precious resources?

Making products that have a long life span runs as the antithesis of modern capitalism where built in obsolescence is usually part of the design.  Offering service and repair to damaged products would also seem to hinder the same buy-and-replace model as well.  Yet this is precisely what Norrøna strives for.  Making usse of both recycled and recyclable material in has also been a stated goal since the 2012 Norrøna release of its first fleece jacket made solely from recycled PET bottles. (Read more about that here…..)

As for humane animal welfare Norrøna claims it will not use wool from mulesing of sheep, down filling is a bi product of the food industry and comes from animals that have not been force-fed.  Use of traditional natural material like coyote fur is a current flash-point topic amongst animal activists.  Norrøna does still use it on some models, as does Canada Goose Winter Jacket,  but the company states they are sourced from culled North American coyote as part of a population control program.  The coyote population has grown very large and is largely considered a vermin that imposes on the biotope of other animals and livestock. Controlled hunting is done by licensed hunters that are given a specific quota they must abide by.

Recently the textile Polygiene has begun to be used in some products because of its positive effect on the environment regarding washing and water use.  By using Polygiene the frequency of washing products can be reduced due to its unique anti-odor technology.  The result is a lessening of environmental stress.  As a by-product of less washing the jackets will last longer. Polygiene receives Bluesign-certifiication  – the highest environmental certification achieved through detailed evaluation at every level throughout the value chain.  Polygiene is also on the list of approved materials by Oeko-Tex, an independent association that tests textiles for possible harmful substances only approves materials that don’t pose any health risk for both humans and the environment.

Overall, Norrøna displays an impressive awareness and commitment to utilizing materials and processes that protect and serve the very natural environment their products are used in.