Devold's Polar History

Devold's Polar Origins

Devold’s success coincided with the first major polar expeditions of the late 19th century.

The polar explorer Fridtjof Nansen was skiing in Greenland as early as 1888, wearing “woollen underwear, an Islender jumper, and homespun jackets”. In fact, Nansen and the others on the Fram expedition could thank solid woollen clothing for surviving three dramatic years on the drift ice in the Northern Arctic Ocean.

At the other edge of the planet, polar explorer Roald Amundsen was making sure that Norwegian wool would be seen first on the South Pole in 1911. In 1925, Amundsen, in the company of the American polar explorer Lincoln Ellsworth, crossed the North Pole in the “Norway 1” airship, with plenty of clothes on, of course. When Ellsworth made his first flight across the South Pole areas in 1933, he, in a very nice letter, thanked Devold for the warm woollen clothing it had provided to them for the trip.

"I wish to express to you my appreciation of the excellent service you have rendered in furnishing supplies and equipment for my Expedition and to thank you for your generous consideration in connection with the charges for your products. We have found them to be of the very best quality."
Lincoln Ellsworth
(letter to O. A. Devold Sonner A/S)


For several generations, both at sea and on land, Devold has equipped famous pole expeditioners and hard-working fishermen with woollens. But for farmers, fishermen, forestry workers, and everyone else working outdoors in Norway, Ellsworth’s letter, filled as it was with superlatives, was unnecessary. In Norway, people already acknowledged the Devold quality. Further south in Europe, however, the supreme quality of Devold products became associated with such expeditions.


Since the 1960s, many Norwegian and foreign expeditions have relied on Devold. Woollen clothing has protected everything from sweaty foreheads to frozen toes on both the North and South Poles. In 1988, Stein P. Aasheim led the Greenland Expedition, for which he took a leaf from Nansen’s book. For him, Devold was a natural choice as a supplier of socks, underwear, and Islender jumpers. Arne Næs Senior wore Devold in 1964 during his Himalayan expeditions. In 1994, Liv Arnesen crossed the South Pole all on her own. To keep warm in the extreme climate, she, as the first woman to undertake this trip, used Devold’s Aquaduct woollen lingerie (now sold as the Expedition collection).

It’s clear that, after more than 160 years of research and development in woollens, Devold stands supreme in terms of comfort, quality, and protection.