Fjällräven products are widely regarded as one of the best and most long lasting. User stories about backapacks or jackets that are in constant use for decades are not extremely uncommon. The whole design and production process is also quite immersed in the past.
Take the fabric that was used for these pants. It’s called G-1000 and Fjällräven has been using it for more than 50 years. Of course it has evolved over time into quite a few different versions – the basic concept stays the same. This is the newest version – Eco. The name is quite self-explanatory 🙂 It’s a step towards something I would not necessarily call enviroment friendly but rather less harmful solutions.
It’s 1/3 organic cotton and 2/3 recycled polyester. Not completely neutral to the enviroment but certainly the progress is huge. Fjällräven declares that all new products will be using the Eco version instead of G-1000. Why they don’t switch all products to the new version right now then? It’s not that straightforward. The Eco version is slightly different in terms of weight, strength, durability etc. from the regular G-1000 which means they cannot simply replace the old fabric with the new one – they would have to redesign the whole product.
You might have heard that the most ecologically conscious choice is not buying new shoes or jacket at all. That’s true, but it is not always possible. When you choose a new piece of gear it is becoming more and more important – at least for me – what is the environmental impact of the whole production process, where are raw materials sourced from etc. Even if you take what brands declare with a grain of salt – since there’s always some marketing creativity in it. It all makes sense though only if the product you choose will last you for years.
Pants look very solid. In terms of manufacturing quality there’s nothing to complain about. Not a single loose thread, no wrinkles at seams, all seams are perfectly straight and reinforced where they should be – like pocket corners. The main button, left pocket snap fastener and the hooks at the bottom of legs are metal which means they’re probably unbreakable. The fabric is quite stiff, there’s no stretch to it at all so it does not “flow” like a softer fabric would, it acts like thick paper instead. Even though there’s no lining inside, so the seams are all exposed – the fabric is nice enough that it does not cause irritations. And it does not make the crackle sound I expected it to.
What adds to the comfort a lot are inserts. Fabric that’s used for the inserts is much thinner, much lighter, elastic and lets air through much better. The first insert is just behind the knee. The second one runs along the inseam from one knee to the other one and apart from providing some ventillation in the area where you generate most heat, it eliminates thick seams that most pants have along the inseam. The third insert goes from one waist pocket over the back of pants to the second one. You need these pieces of lighter fabric since the main one, when properly waxed, is very windproof and – opposite to what is the case with membranes liek Goretex – it works both ways.
There are no back pockets. You get two waist pockets, quite deep, with large openings, and two (you could call it three) “cargo” pockets on thighs. The left one has a sturdy snap button and the right one has a zip. There’s also a small elastic pocket inside the right one. It was originally designed for a swiss knife but it will fit a medium sized phone. Both pockets seem quite large. However, since the top layer is attached directly to the leg, without a fold that would add some volume, their capacity is somewhat compromised. If only the right pocket had some “thickness” to it, it would be much more useful.
The fit is quite close – these are not loose pants. Mine are M/48, exactly the size I should have according to size chart and they fit perfectly. I don’t even need to wear a belt – and there obviously are belt loops. Two front ones have an additional small loop so you can attach something to it which I actually use almost daily.
At the bottom there’s a simple but very robust cuff adjusting mechanism. Not some thin bungee cord but a thick webbing and durable plastic clasp. You can manipulate it even wearing thick gloves and even when the bottom of your pants is covered with mud or snow. You can see some attention to detail here since you have two small loops for excess webbing on back of the cuff. At the front – nicely hidden when not in use – there’s a metal hook that you can attach to your shoelaces. You might not need gaiters with these pants most of the time – unless you’re walking really long miles in deep snow.
When reading reviews for Fjällräven pants you will notice many people say they are long. Too long. Most of their pants are available in three versions – short, regular and long – in 2 inch increments. This model though is available only in long version and as you can see it is way too long. If it was only the looks – no big deal. The problem is that when you hike in snow or rain, you will have it stay in “pockets” forming at the bottom and the pants will soak through even if they were generously waxed.
Yes, the fabric is not waterproof and you have to wax it to get some level of protection.
Fjällräven says it should be done every few washes. It’s quite simple – you need to rub them with wax bar a few times and then slide and iron over the fabric (with a piece of paper between to protect the iron) to melt it. There’s a picture manual inside the pants that shows you can use a camping stove (or even fire) so you can weatherproof your pants in the middle of nowhere. You just need to make sure the fabric is dry before you start.
I would say you can use them almost year round. On a hot summer day these would be a little too thick, but you would wear shorts then anyway and in the winter you certainly need some base layer (especially because of the inserts when it’s windy). Are they as durable as I would expect? Too early to say, I’ve had them only for a couple of months, but considering how little I cared about them they look almost as new and, frankly, I cannot wait for them to get some typical waxed cotton patina.