Fjallraven Keb Pullover Review
It is great to see how Swedish brand Fjallraven have gained such a strong foothold in the U.K. market. Fjallraven is a premium brand with a careful eye to design detail, strong ethical stance and renowned quality. They have a strong and growing following and one of their mountain focussed offerings is the Keb range.
Fjallraven describe the Keb family as ‘a range of technical outdoor products developed for demanding treks where freedom of movement is just as important as durability and protection from challenging terrain’.
I have had the chance to review some key garments from the Keb range and, in the case of the Keb trousers I reviewed here and the jacket I reviewed here, I found the products to be extremely functional and very durable. They also both featured lots of intelligent design features and their trademark superb construction . So, when Fjallraven offered me one of their Keb pullovers to review I was very keen to see how it stacked up against my previous experiences.
The Keb pullover is constructed from a technically advanced double density fabric which combines Merino wool on the inside with an outer layer of Polyamide. Merino is a very efficient insulator, it wicks moisture extremely well, is comfortable next to the skin and has natural odour reducing properties. A perfect choice it would seem, to be on this skin layer. The wool Fjallraven use is also traceable and ethically sourced.
As an outer layer Polyamide stills wicks well and is a good insulator, but it has also been selected here because it is known to be very durable. It is also worth noting that both these fabrics are also extremely good insulators when wet but, crucially, dry quickly as well. A duo of materials, then, that would seem to offer a winning team.
Beyond that, the pullover features subtle styling and functional features. A full length front zip closure allows good venting options and, when the need arises, the zip seals right up to the high and close fitting collar. The zipper features is a neat leather pull tab. There are 2 zipped hand warmer pockets and a neat leather logo stitched onto the sleeve. That’s it really - the Keb is paired down to the essentials, but certainly has everything you need too.
Although not in the ultra lightweight category, The Keb is certainly a reasonable packable weight at 440 grams for a size medium. The model I received was in black but other colours are available.
When I first unpacked the Keb Pullover and inspected it, it felt rather like I was unwrapping an item of street fashion. This is a very stylish garment that would certainly hold its own as an item for leisure wear. Infact, when I have taken it on a couple of skiing trips over last winter I have found that, although it certainly performed well on the slopes during the day, I have also been drawn to wear it for a few restaurant evenings out too - it really does cross the boundary between style and function.
But, as my review is predominantly aimed at its outdoor credentials, that’s going to be my main focus. The Keb has a close fit that works well when layered under clothes, but it can also work as outerwear in some conditions. The wool/polyamide fabric only provides minimal wind protection but it is a great insulator on calmer but chilly days. The collar is high enough to offer a snug and protective fit under a shell or other insulated outer layer and the zip closure allows for perfect adjustability - you can vent for the uphill and cinch it up tight for chillier times.
As mentioned, I have used the Keb for skiing and also for general mountain use over the winter. It also accompanied me on a few weeks in Norway where it became a favourite under layer on arctic ice climbing days. Most recently, it has accompanied me on my latest trip to the Annapurna region of Nepal. It has had plenty of use in varied conditions and has performed with aplomb on every occasion. It’s also drawn some very complimentary comments from team members and friends too.
I have now used and tested a broad range of Merino garments and so it came as no surprise to me that the wool would perform efficiently. I had resisted using wool for a while as my previous experiences of it were of an itchy and coarse material, but you can forget all those past experiences with Merino. The super short and extra fine fibres ensure it is extremely comfortable next to the skin.
I also really believe in its odour fighting properties. I have worn some of my Merino base layers for several consecutive active days with no issues at all. Then, of course, there is wool’s excellent insulating qualities and its sustainability. The Keb has all the fabric requirements for a very efficient base/mid layer.
The one drawback of wool can be durability and this will often be especially noticed at wear points such as where a pack rubs against it. The answer is to have the wool layer next to the skin and a more durable top layer - that is why Fjallraven have used an outer layer made of durable synthetic Polyamide. I have no idea what wizardry in the manufacturing process allows the two materials to be combined so seamlessly, but it really does make a great combo. So far, the Keb is holding up to everything I’ve thrown at it and it still looks as good as new. I have particularly kept looking at where rucksack straps sit or the rucksack back panel rubs - there are absolutely no signs of wear and tear at all.
The pockets on the Keb are simple and functional. They are comfortable to use and it is good that they have a zipped closure. They are also high enough that they don’t get in the way of a rucksack waist belt or climbing harness (not that I anticipate using the Keb as a regular climbing option). They do their job and do it well.
I have found the medium size to be a good fit for my 5’8” and 38/40” chest and the arm length and hem length are good for me. As mentioned previously (but it is worth pointing out again), the Keb Pullover is designed to be a close fitting garment and that is certainly the case. It’s stretchy fabric means this isn’t a problem and it is extremely comfy and offers superb freedom of movement, but just be aware of the snug fit.
Lastly, and here will be a major consideration for many buyers, the Keb Pullover comes in at a hefty RRP of £175. I did take a sharp intake of breath when I saw this and had to ask myself if the price was worth it. Well, Fjallraven products are certainly premium products and their focus is on producing top quality garments with top notch design and materials. This is no exception.
I have used products from Jottnar and Mammut featuring a lighter weight variation of the wool/polyamide mix used on the Keb and both times they have come in at the higher end of the price range. Crucially, they have also lasted for many years of use and continue to be in excellent condition, so I fully expect the Keb Pullover to last for many years too.
This is a technically advanced fabric featuring complicated construction methods. It is never going to be cheap. Add to this the meticulous design and the great performance and my view is that the Keb, although expensive, is a very fine item that is worth the cost - it is just up to you if you are happy to pay this amount for this type of product. For me, it has become a firm favourite in both my outdoor and casual wardrobes.
Fjallraven are flying high in the U.K. and with good reason. Every item of their clothing I have seen or used has been top quality and with very intelligent design details. The Keb Pullover is a great product that performs superbly, looks great and compliments the other items in the Keb range. It has a premium price tag, but you are getting a lot of product for that money. Full details are available on the Fjallraven website here.
Posted by Paul