Fjallraven Keb Trousers Review (2019 version)
Way back in 2017 I reviewed a pair of Fjallraven’s Keb trousers. Keb’s have become something of a legendary trouser and, as they are part of a range of Keb family garments, a legendary clothing range. Fjallraven, by the same token, have a reputation as a legendary manufacturer and they have gained a considerable toe hold in the U.K.
Interestingly, though, as I am writing this on a flight home from my recent month long trip to Nepal, Fjallraven products are everywhere. As I journeyed in the Khumbu and Langtang regions I really couldn’t believe how many people of different nationalities were wearing their clothing, and particularly their trousers. They are a big player around the world.
So, having gained considerable experience with the last incarnation of Keb’s, and knowing they had revamped the trousers for 2019, it seemed a good time to get to grips with this new model as well as taking the chance to compare the 2 models. Here is my review.
The Keb’s I was sent came in a pleasant 2 tone blue colour scheme, although this is just one of many colour combo’s they are available in. The reason they can 2 tone them is because the trousers are primarily formed from 2 fabrics. The main fabric is Fjallraven’s G-1000 Eco and there are stretch panels added in strategic areas. G-1000 Eco is an extremely tightly woven 65% polyester and 35% cotton mix and the stretch panels are constructed from a 63% polyamide/26% polyester and 11% elastane mix. The G-1000 Eco covers the backside, backs of the legs and the wear areas of the leg fronts and rear of the lower leg all feature the stretch material.
With other features, let’s start at the top and work down. The trousers are button closure and feature belt loops, although you’ll need to provide your own belt. Then there are side hand pockets and lower down the leg are distinctive twin press stud closing front upper leg pockets. One of these pockets has a small inner pocket perfect for securing a phone, compass, GPS or similar. The other has a zip closure.
Along the upper part of each leg (running from hip to knee) there is a long zippered vent and. Fjallraven have used 2 way zippers on these to allow for fine tuned ventilation and similar vents are positioned on each leg from just under the knee to the calf. There is the facility to add knee pads into slots in the knee area although these are an accessory option. Finally, strap attachments and boot hooks at the leg cuff allow for fine tuning of fit and also facilitate the use of gaiters (not included). The Keb’s come in various sizes (obviously!) and are available in a longer leg length version if needed. They are described by Fjallraven as regular fit.
The Keb’s, with their distinctive 2 tone colour scheme and large leg patch pockets, are a very ‘stand out’ trouser. Depending on your perspective, this may be a good or a bad thing. You won’t blend in wearing a pair of Keb’s, but then Keb wearers won’t want to either. Users will tend to be people that value the function like the many trekkers I saw in Nepal. They wear their Fjallraven products with pride.
So, let’s look to their function. Well, Fjallraven describe the Keb’s as a regular fit pant and I agree. They are well shaped for an average body size and yet, because of the stretch panels and pre shaping in the leg, they also don’t need to be too baggy. The sizing conversion needs a bit of interpreting if you are buying these off the Fjallraven website, but they offer plenty of guidance and it is nice that they are offered in different leg lengths. Fjallraven work hard on their clothing fit and it shows.
All the features are carefully planned out and work perfectly. The leg pockets are great for stashing everything from a mobile phone and wallet to a bunch of fire lighting twigs or ball of string - they will work regardless of your needs. One of the leg pockets closes with a press stud fastener and the other has a flap cover and zip. Oh, and they will also hold a section of map easily which is what I tend to use them for. I tend to use the side hand pockets less, but they are there if you need them. One of the pockets has a small pocket that is great for securing a compass or small phone.
The ventilation system is really good and I’ve played around with this a lot. Most of the time I find opening the upper leg zips offers plenty of air through flow and I prefer these as they are easier to reach and on most terrain it helps if the lower leg isn’t flopping around too much. Having said that, having the flexibility to adjust airflow at the lower legs is great to have. Another great thing about these vents is the way Fjallraven still manage to make the venting system neat and unobtrusive - when you aren’t opening the vents they will sit there without getting in the way of any activity and without compromising the use of a climbing harness or snag on passing branches.
The Keb’s ankle hem strike a good balance between snug and loose - loose enough to fit around a boot or any other type of footwear and yet not too flappy so they catch on things. However, as these are built for many types of conditions and terrain, Fjallraven have also incorporated a buttoned strap adjustment system that allows the ankle to be cinched tight if needed. This works really efficiently and makes it a doddle to reduce the opening size if needed. Along with that, there are also boot hooks that allow the trouser hems to be hooked into the lacing system of any laced boots without a built in gaiter.
All the fabrics used in Keb trousers are designed to strike that balance of being durable, wind and water resistant, breathable and stretchy enough to allow free movement. Well, again it all just works - the stretchy fabrics stretch in all the right places and the harder wearing sections are carefully planned out to offer the durability. I don’t see these particularly as a pair of climbing trousers, but they are plenty durable for that. They will easily cope with bashing through heather or scrub and feel like you’ll get years of use without the Keb’s even blinking.
That freedom of movement also comes in no small part from the cut of the pants. Pre shaped knees and a pre shaped year allow you to move in any weird and wonderful position without any feeling of constriction.
Another big plus for me is that the fabric offers good water resistance and yet allows enough moisture transmission for hot weather or when working hard. I wouldn’t choose these as pants for too warm weather. Infact I see them as ideal (in the UK climate at least) for Spring and Autumn weather and, along with other Keb garments, you can always apply Fjallraven wax to add more weatherproofness if needed.
Fjallraven is a company that aligns itself to the natural world and so it makes sense that they are now offering clothing made from their ‘eco’ fabrics. In the case of the G1000 Eco this means a fabric made from post consumer polyester and organic cotton. Polyester that is already in the supply chain and cotton produced without harmful chemicals. Oh, and with the same levels of performance as non PCR polyester and non organic cotton.
This makes the use of these materials a much better winner for the environment, but does come at the price of being a little more expensive. Having said that, a pair of Fjallraven Keb’s will keep performing for many years, and so thinking of them as an investment means that a slightly higher price will seem reasonable to the kind of users that choose them.
Fjallraven products have a very loyal following and the Keb range is at the pinnacle of their range. So, revising a product like the widely adored Keb trousers must be quite a sleepless night inducing challenge. Fortunately, the sleepless nights were surely worth it. This is a great product.
The Keb’s are trousers that perform superbly in varied conditions, have the durability to give years of service and which have all the features needed to suit a broad range of activities. Fjallraven have made a legendary product even better. Oh, and bravo for also moving to more sustainable fabrics. You won’t be disappointed by the new Keb’s. You can check out full details on the Fjallraven website here.
Posted by Paul