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Waterproof Jackets

Fjällräven Keb Eco-Shell Jacket | Review

New for autumn 2015, Fjällräven's Keb Eco-Shell jacket is an all-round waterproof mountain jacket designed for hill and mountain walking and basic mountaineering.

New for autumn 2015, Fjällräven’s Keb Eco-Shell jacket is an all-round waterproof mountain jacket  designed for hill and mountain walking and basic mountaineering. It will work with a hood and harness if needed, but it’s intended more as a top-notch all-rounder than a full on technical shell. Tester Nik Cook has been using it for almost six months now, here’s what he made of it.

Eco Credentials

Eco-Shell is Fjällräven’s new for autumn 2015 waterproof hard shell fabric. The entire tri-laminate is made out of recycled polyester and is fluorocarbon free, ticking two big environmental boxes. Fjällräven claim these eco-credentials incur no performance penalties and that, in terms of waterproofing and breathability, it’s on a par with the serious mountain players.

It’s a soft, pleasant feeling laminate, with slight stretch and no rustling crisp bag tendencies. I’ve used it for hiking and mountain biking and, especially when you deploy the good sized pit zips, it breathes really well even when you raise your effort levels. It does a solid job of keeping the elements out too and, overall, I’d put it up there with Gore Tex Pro and other top-end fabrics I’ve tested.

Mountain Features

It’s got all the features you’d expect in a high end mountain jacket. The hood fits over a helmet, The two way zipper is water resistant and baffled and you’ve got really good sized chest pockets. Hem, cuffs are hood are all adjustable, giving plenty of scope for tweaking ventilation and fit. The fit is fairly athletic, so, I’d try sizing before you buy but the stretch of the fabric does allow uninhibited freedom of movement.

My only performance concern is regarding durability, especially if used regularly with a heavy pack. The Eco-Shell just doesn’t feel as robust as some other technical waterproof fabrics. I might be doing it a complete disservice here, Fjällräven certainly seem to have given it some stick during R&D, but I haven’t yet put it through some serious pack abuse and only time will tell.

It has taken a few scrapes against drystone walls and gritstone and, to be fair, it’s remained scuff and rip free. I’ll get back to you on this after a Peak District winter and some decent pack time.

Mountain Features

It’s got all the features you’d expect in a high end mountain jacket. The hood fits over a helmet, The two way zipper is water resistant and baffled and you’ve got really good sized chest pockets. Hem, cuffs are hood are all adjustable, giving plenty of scope for tweaking ventilation and fit. The fit is fairly athletic, so, I’d try sizing before you buy but the stretch of the fabric does allow uninhibited freedom of movement.

My only performance concern is regarding durability, especially if used regularly with a heavy pack. The Eco-Shell just doesn’t feel as robust as some other technical waterproof fabrics. I might be doing it a complete disservice here, Fjällräven certainly seem to have given it some stick during R&D, but I haven’t yet put it through some serious pack abuse and only time will tell.

It has taken a few scrapes against drystone walls and gritstone and, to be fair, it’s remained scuff and rip free. I’ll get back to you on this after a Peak District winter and some decent pack time.

Deceptively Normal

The price tag may make you catch your breath a bit but it’s not out of step with typical Gore-Tex Pro jackets and those using other high end laminates from other manufacturers. I’ll be honest though, when I was handed a jacket that’d put a near £400 dent in your bank account, I was expecting spangly gold zippers at the very least. However, the first thing that strikes you about the Keb Eco-Shell Jacket, is just how normal it looks. It doesn’t scream, “ Look at me, I’m a serious mountain man!” , you can wear it in civilian life without feeling at all conspicuous.

For me, this is a big plus and does mean that you’re effectively getting two jackets for the price of one. I’m as comfortable wearing it taking the dog for a walk or down the pub as I would be tramping over Kinder Scout. There’s no performance compromises when you do take this jacket out onto the hills but equally it’s subtle, understated and slightly retro aesthetics have made it my go to day to day jacket also.

Verdict

The Keb Eco-Shell mixes excellent performance with subtle understated looks and top-notch build quality. The polyester fabric has a lovely soft feel to it, yet still gets the job done impressively well and, characteristically for Fjällräven, with more than a passing nod to sustainability.

My only slight concern is over how well that material will cope with heavy pack use and I’ll be aiming to give it some serious stick this winter and reporting back, so far though, it’s surviving just fine.

Pros

Good performance, pleasant feeling, non-rustling fabric, athletic cut, helmet and harness compatible if needed, environmental credentials thanks to polyester-based fabric.

Cons

Slight question mark over durability with heavy pack use.

Performance: 5
Reliability: 4
Value: 4

Full Spec

  • Price: £390.00
  • Year: 2015
  • Weight: 524g
  • Eco-Shell, stretch Polyester waterproof fabric
  • Breathability: 26000 gr/m2/24h / waterproofness: 30000 mm
  • Helmet-compatible hood
  • Twin large zipped Napoleon chest pockets
  • Adjustable hem, hood and cuffs
  • Full YKK Aquaguard VISLON zip with storm flap
  • Core vents with two-way zippers

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