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. The name ‘Vihe’ was formed from Heikki’s name when the shop needed to list his products in the stock checklist. And ‘Vaellus’ means hiking in Finnish.
A turning point in Vihe Vaellus history came when a UK-born wilderness guide (Dan) 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, reaching new customers in European Union, North America, and Japan, and attracting the attention of internationally acclaimed wilderness experts such as Ray Mears and Dave Canterbury.
Wildward has since reached further out by also providing guided tours and workshops while using Vihe Vaellus products and promoting Finnish traditions.
Wildward continues to promote and develop Vihe Vaellus 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.
To this day, Vihe Vaellus products – first created by Heikki in the 70’s – are still being made using some of his original templates.
So, how do we pronounce ‘Vihe’? – Imagine the syllables of the word ‘Heavy’ in reverse order, as in ‘vyHea’ 🙂 And Vaellus? Well, that’s a bit more tricky.