The story of Vihe Vaellus begins toward the end of the 1970’s, when Heikki Viherto started having ideas to make his own hiking and camping gear. With his involvement in the scouting movement and a deep interest in the traditional shelters of the northern peoples, he began to develop his own ideas on how the various shelters could suit his needs and thus make his own outdoors pursuits easier. With available information at that time not being as easily accessible as it is today, he had to pretty much create his designs and templates from scratch.
Heikki’s career as a camping gear maker started, when his previous work ended and he had time to start making outdoors accessories, mainly for his own needs at first. A local scouting shop owner got interested in Heikki’s products and asked him to make some for his shop to sell. First one item, then the next and so on. This was the start of the company Vihe Vaellus, a name familiar to many from the tags on rain gear and tarps.
A turning point in Vihe Vaellus history came when a UK-born wilderness guide was taken on as apprentice by Heikki, and little by little during that period, Heikki’s wishes to retire started to surface.
In 2012 when Heikki had decided that he did indeed wish to retire, Dan bought the Vihe Vaellus brand and created Wildward, with Heikki working in the background in a more advisory role until his formal retirement a year later. A new website was created with direct sales made possible for the first time. The company has since then carried on taking Vihe Vaellus forward to include international markets and become recognized as a top Finnish product.
In 2014 Vihe Vaellus was granted the Key Flag Symbol for products of Finnish Origin with all Vihe products being entirely produced by hand in Finland.
A devastating blow in 2016 almost destroyed Vihe with the untimely death of Anita, not only a valued work colleague but also good friend and Mother-in-law. The recovery process was a slow one, but one which meant that Wildward and Vihe Vaellus were forced to find a new direction in order to keep Vihe alive. This resulted in the slow transformation from wholesaler to retailer, reaching new customers in European Union, North America, and Japan.
Wildward has since reached further out into the original dream by also providing guided tours and workshops while using Vihe products and promoting Finnish traditions.
To this day, Vihe Vaellus products first created by Heikki in the 70’s are still being made using some of his original templates.
As well as promoting the Finnish love of nature and wilderness, Wildward continues to promote and develop its products, all of which are designed to be practical and enduring, with the hope of much usage that will not only provide a fantastic outdoor experience, but also sustain their worth over time.
Vihe Vaellus strives to keep the manufacturing as local and national as possible, with all products made entirely in Finland, and treasuring the high quality of human labour over high-tech manufacturing plants where price overrides quality. In addition, Vihe Vaellus does not subscribe to the use of so-called slave labour from certain overseas countries where costs may sacrifice quality and worker well-being.