'Well-fitting, functionally cut mountain trousers with excellent wind-resistance, plenty of pockets and abundant venting - also available in quieter colours...'
Outdoors Magic: Great articulated cut, cool waxed fabric with good wind resistance, lots of pockets, lots of venting, clever seam design, adjustable ankle cuffs, tough feel, wax levels can be tweaked to suit preferences.
Outdoors Tragic: Slightly heavy, a little expensive, the ochre colour scheme scares small children and sheep.
Outdoors Grabbit? If you can get past the mad colour and characteristically Scandinavian look of the Keb Trousers, they're brilliant in a sort of retro soft-shell sort of way. Fjällräven's legwear cut is superb and functional, the fabric is tough and weather resistant and zipped vents allow easy cooling on the go. Mobility is good with heavy knee articulation. And the pockets, you will never run short of pocket space... Yes, they are expensive and a little heavy, but there's not much else out there that compares.
Mountain and trekking trousers / G-1000 Eco & Stretch fabrics / adjustable reinforced ankle cuffs with press-studs / two hand and two thigh pockets / twin side vents at thigh and calf level / zip fly / single button waist fastener and belt loops (belt not supplied) / seamless inner thigh construction
Full Review Below
Fjällräven Keb Trousers - Performance
Outdoor trousers, the final frontier... strangely, despite jackets becoming increasingly well cut, legwear seems stuck in a weird unchanging eddy somewhere between high-waisted 'dad pants' on the one side and leg-hugging minimalism on the other.
One company that has got its act together is Swedish brand Fjällräven. It has a huge range of trousers, mostly made from it's own waxed polyester cotton G-1000 with a choice of waist heights, cuts and leg lengths. And what's more, the designers there pursue trousers with a quietly focussed Scandinavian zeal.
A Passion For Pants
There are 76 different versions on their website and that's just the men's models. Add in another 56 women's versions and six kids' ones for good measure.
Anyway, the Keb Trousers are the brand's technical mountain trekking pants. They're made from a mix of the tough, canvas-like G1000 Eco - the yellow bits - and stretchy, but still tough 4-way Stretch fabric. Think of it as old-fashioned, new-fangled soft shell with decent wind and water-resistance and you won't go far wrong.
We like the cut. It's not tight, it's not loose, but the articulation and fit means they feel both reasonably neat and unrestrictive. If you have a butt, there is space for it. If you have long legs, there is a long version too.
They are very Scandinavian in feel. Take the big map-friendly thigh-pockets for example. Or the reinforced cuffs with pop-stud adjustment and hooks to locate over your laces and stop things riding up. Or the simple belt-loops. No fussiness or overt technical gimmicks.
That's not to say that thought hasn't gone into them. The inner thigh seams has been relocated for example, to reduce chaffing and the hand-pockets are designed so that stuff doesn't fall out of them when you sit down. We tried it, they work.
On The Hill Happiness
Most importantly, they do the job nicely on the hill. The waxed fabric sheds light rain quite happily and the trousers are decently wind resistant, taking the edge nicely off cold winter breezes. You can even add more of the G-1000 Greenland Wax at home to increase weather resistance if you choose. We liked them as they came from the factory though.
We had no issues with freedom of movement either, the articulation in the knee area seems to work nicely. The ankle cuffs though a slightly clunky sort of design that not everyone loved, also worked effectively with boots.
And then there are the brilliant vents. Not half-arsed, mini thigh ones, but huge vents, one at the side of each thigh and one on the outside of the shin area. Get a sweat on climbing a hill and you can quickly and easily expose bare-flesh or base-layered thigh to the world. Brilliant things if you run on the warm side and something that makes the trousers easy to wear across a wide range of conditions.
Great in winter worn over a baselayer legging, but also surprising useable in summer until your reach the point where shorts become desirable.
Fjällräven Keb Trousers - Verdict
Once we'd got over the initial shock of the ochre and brown colour scheme, we started to really rate the Keb Trousers. They have a solid, sturdy, protective feel to them - yes, they are slightly weighty at a whisker under 600g - and the fabric gives a nice balance of comfort and reassuring weather protection.
'Yes, they are expensive, but we honestly can't think of much else out there that compares.'
The cut is brilliantly functional, though you're never going to be mistaken for a cutting-edge French alpinist and those huge vents mean they're adaptable to effort levels and conditions. Just as well because on one level, they do feel like a halfway house between trousers and overtrousers.
And even if you don't specifically fancy the Keb Trousers, Fjällräven has an infinite variety of alternatives with slightly different cuts, fewer pockets, hugely long legs that you cut and hem to fit, and yes, even a variety of sombre, non-yellow colours...
Yes, they are expensive, but we honestly can't think of much else out there that compares.