Adventurer, Polar Explorer, and Climate Activist

Eyes as blue as the Pacific coastal sea; laughter lines that tell breathtaking stories: that is Arved Fuchs, one of the greatest adventurers of our time.

He was the first person to reach both the North and the South Poles by foot in one year. He remains the only person to have circumnavigated the legendary Cape Horn in a kayak in winter. As a long-time Jack Wolfskin partner, he has shared his valuable expertise to develop products that hold strong in hazardous conditions.

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Arved Fuchs in Conversation With Florence Kasumba

Actress Florence Kasumba visits the adventurer on his 90-year old boat “Dagmar Aaen,” on which he still ventures on polar expeditions to this day. Arved and Florence talk about the longing for adventure, the right equipment, and Arved’s collaboration with Jack Wolfskin. “I have found a company that gave me enough freedom to turn ideas into reality, and they always listened to what I had to say.”

All It Took Was a Call to Manfred Hell 

In 1995, Fuchs had moored his Danish ship, Dagmar Aaen, in San Francisco when a friend asked him to get in touch with Jack Wolfskin. These were the days before smartphones and the internet, so Fuchs had to scrabble together a pile of quarters before making his way to the nearest phone booth to call Manfred Hell, Jack Wolfskin’s CEO at the time. Though the background noise made it hard to hear each other, they immediately clicked. By the end of the call, both men knew that they wanted to work together. After Arved Fuch’s return, they developed an equipment line that marked the beginning of a long partnership. 

Whenever you need a reality check, simply confront yourself with pure nature, Fuchs says. Nature is always the supreme authority: you can learn how to deal with it, but you can never fight it.

“My Life Insurance Policy is a Sleeping Bag”

The clothing worn by adventurers like Fuchs has to be absolutely uncompromising and offer protection from extreme temperatures – for Manfred Hell and the Jack Wolfskin team, that went without saying. For polar explorers, a good sleeping bag is essential for survival; many adventurers have lost their lives to the High Arctic’s freezing temperatures. 

To avoid such tragedy, Jack Wolfskin made custom products for Fuchs, which he tested in settings such as industrial-scale slaughterhouses. Refrigerated warehouses there were cooled down to -37 degrees Celsius (-35 Fahrenheit), enabling Fuchs to quickly check whether his equipment was fit for purpose.

“I saw that as my central task: to offer input that would make the products better.”

When the crew came back from an expedition lasting several months, their clothing, tents, sleeping bags, and backpacks – all of which had indeed been put through their paces – were brought back to the Jack Wolfskin headquarters in the Taunus mountains. Here, the Jack Wolfskin product developers took apart every item and analyzed any signs of wear and tear to improve the products.

So Arved’s motto is maximum functionality and durability with minimal accessories.

A Minimalist With Maximum Demands

Anything could happen during Fuchs’s expeditions, which is why a meticulously planned equipment list is imperative. If he and his crew are sailing through the Arctic Ocean, they will need dry suits that protect them from water and the cold. And when sailing with Fuchs’s 90-year-old ship, Dagmar Aaen, spray and storms ensure that the crew is always getting wet.

Fuchs hadn’t given much thought to a product’s durability and manufacturing conditions. But during his expeditions, he realized that his attitude would have to change, as he noticed that floating garbage patches and plastic were constant companions for parts of his journeys. He was determined to share these disturbing experiences with Manfred Hell and his team.

This marked the beginning of a more sustainable approach to manufacturing at Jack Wolfskin, a practice that now defines the company’s work. Jack Wolfskin is proving that a company can be fair, environmentally friendly, and successful.

Arved Fuchs describes himself as a chronicler. For more than four decades now, he has been exploring some of the most untouched parts of our multifaceted planet.

Noticing the changes, he feels a duty to share not just stunning pictures of his travels but also honest reports of the impact of climate change.

A Mission for Change

The traveler has experienced enough. He has nothing more to prove to himself or the world. As such, his mission has changed: he now wants to give back to nature by helping to conserve and protect it. 

This was evident back in 2007 when the scientific community launched the International Polar Year. Wanting to contribute, Fuchs and Jack Wolfskin established the Ice Climate Education youth camp on the Norwegian island Spitsbergen. The camp’s aim is the same today as when it launched: to make young people aware of environmental and climate protection. Scientist come together with young people from all over the world to share both vivid experiences of the natural world and theoretical knowledge.

Little things can have a huge impact. In this case, a short phone call laid the foundation for this wonderful partnership. We wish to thank Arved Fuchs for the fantastic adventures and his incredible commitment to protecting our natural world.