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Vidda Pro Trousers - Gear Test
Since Åke Nordin founded the company in 1960, Fjällräven have lead the way in producing all round outdoor kit, whether you’re hanging off the side of a mountain or on the school run, their gear is suitable for all levels, covering a broad range of activities. Based out of Sweden, their team has invested a considerable amount of time and knowledge into ensuring that they can outfit the outdoor community in the right equipment for all seasons, in both arduous and serene conditions.
I’ll admit that despite working with the Fjällräven range almost exclusively since joining the Nordic Outdoor team [religiously familiarising myself with the models, features, materials and various applications] I am actually a little late to the party, and have only recently invested in a fine Fjällräven garment, the Vidda Pro Trousers, and I haven’t looked back. The kit durable, functional and timeless.
The reason for being a little reserved is of course the price. However, as with all our products at Nordic Outdoor, Fjällräven’s largest consideration when producing equipment, is sustainability. It’s all very well producing a recyclable product that has a low material impact, but the effort [both personal and overall] that goes into after life care can be avoided. It’s far more sustainable to invest a little more time and effort into the build quality, to end up with a slightly more expensive product that will have a considerably longer lifespan.
The durability and timeless design of Fjällräven equipment is what gives them the edge in the outdoor community. Too many manufacturers these days will routinely produce equipment that is in line with fast fashion, keeping a weathered eye on the horizon of next season, knowing their loyal customers will be back to replace their year old jacket. I cannot tell you how refreshing it is to have customers approach us, showing off a 30-year-old Fjällräven jacket or rucksack. Spend more, but only buy it once.
The Vidda Pro Trousers are built with Fjällräven’s Original G-1000. For those of you who don’t know, G-1000 is Fjällräven designed, and their go to for the majority of their products. Developed over 50 years ago, G-1000 ticks all their development boxes; functional, durable and timeless. The dense weave of polyester and cotton leaves a hard wearing, water resistant and very breathable material, essential for when faced with harshest of conditions.
However, remarkable though G-1000 is, there are conditions where it may not be appropriate. And although Fjällräven have other materials to hand, their design team have developed a range of G-1000 variants to satisfy all parties:
- Original; the original blend of 65% polyester and 35 %cotton, tightly woven into a tough, water resistant, breathable cloth.
- Air; very lightweight, more breathable variant of the Original better suited for hotter climates.
- Lite; sits between Air and Original. Lightweight, with a light wax for weather resistance, and a ripstop structure to offer more durability. Comes in Eco variations*
- Heavy Duty; sacrifices a bit of weight and breathability for more water resistance and durability. Comes in Eco variations*
- Silent; a smooth and soft variant, making less noise when rubbed. Ideal for observing or hunting animals. Comes in Eco variations*
- *Eco; Variations of G-1000 that have already been made with recycled Polyester and organic cotton.
One other key feature of the material is the adaptability. With Fjällräven’s Greenland Wax, one can quite easily impregnate their G-1000 clothing to improve the water resistance. It’s important to note, that there are three expressions that are often misinterpreted:
- Water Resistant; AKA Showerproof. Resistant to low amounts of rainfall over short periods.
- Water Repellent; AKA Hydrophobic. Resistant to heavier rain, for longer period’s water will bead and run off the material. Can be achieved by waxing or “proofing” water-resistant material.
- Waterproof; a rating measured through a water column test, if a material withstands a minimum 1,500mm or more, it is classed as waterproof. But in the right, sustained conditions, water can still permeate. The higher the rating, the more
waterproof the material [yet often less breathable].
Waterproof or Water Resistant?
The fear of becoming wet drives a lot of people to the mistake of immediately going for waterproof layers. Waterproof clothing [although it absolutely has its place on the packing list in the event of hard sustained rainfall] will never be as breathable as water resistant clothing. If one insists on wearing waterproof clothing in the wrong conditions, they will likely get soaked anyway from their own sweat.
Sweating is an important body function, but not always a welcome one. It is your body’s response to heat, the moisture will evaporate off your body, administering a cooling effect. When moving over rugged terrain, your work rate increases, and if not monitored carefully your body will likely respond by sweating, even in cold conditions. We want to mitigate this by layering appropriately, otherwise your body temperature will drop too far, and may be at risk not hypothermia as well as dehydration. This is not always possible, so in case we do sweat, we want to give that moisture every chance of escaping.
Layering is all about striking the right balance for the given activity, and finding the right compromise comes with responding to the changing conditions around you. Consider a basic kit list, wearing a water resistant shell that has been waxed or “proofed” , suitable for most wet conditions, and with the careful application of wool base/mid layers like some of the Aclima merino baselayers [more about wool in my previous post] any moisture sustained will be wicked away by the wool fibres, and will breathe through your water resistant layer. Keep a waterproof layer for emergencies, and maybe an extra warm layer for when things really start heading south.
Another remarkable advantage to water resistant material over waterproof material, is the time taken to dry, either on the go from the heat radiating off your body, or in camp over a fire. One occasion springs to mind, climbing Torridon in Scotland, occasional downpours were forecast, and so I opted for my water resistant shell. A squall of rain would come in, I would get wet through, but within half an hour I would be fairly dry again. Even when wet, the shell would act as a barrier against the wind. Had the forecast predicted constant downpours, I would of course consider a waterproof shell.
With all this in mind, the Vidda Pro’s G-1000 Original material is more than suitable for temperate climates across the globe, especially the UK.
If you have read my previous article regarding the Heroes Turtleneck, you’ll find that I wore the Vidda Pro Trousers on the same excursion, and thus they were subjected to the same conditions. Precipitating everything from wet flurries of wet snow to driving hail, in winds gusting 50mph and a wind chill of -20C. Harsh conditions, even for Scotland. The perfect day out for testing kit in the UK. This was my first proper day out with G-1000, and although I am a fan about breathability over waterproofness, I was still a little apprehensive looking up the hill, because as with the Heroes Turtleneck, this was an unfamiliar item of kit for me in these conditions.
As we climbed into the snowline, we were hit with the wet flurries of snow. Naturally the large sticky snowflakes clung to everything, the Vidda Pros included. When the sun came out again, the large snowflakes melted into the material, causing it to be wet through. I had anticipated this, but had opted from putting on over trousers. I knew the higher we climbed, the colder/dryer it would get, therefore in a short space of time the snow would be less likely to cling, more bounce off. This would give the material a chance to dry from the heat radiating off my legs. They dried very quickly indeed, within half an hour of getting above the wet snow.
From then on, it was dry snow, and the only uncomfortable factors I could anticipate with the Vidda Pro’s were the cold winds, and any chaffing possibly sustained later in the day. I can confidently say that despite the -20C wind chill, there was absolutely no need for base layers, nor over trousers, this is largely down to the tight weave of the G-1000, but also the fact we were always moving, stopping only for short periods. I honestly hardly felt the wind through the trousers, even at the most exposed sections of the ridge. As for the chaffing, there was no need to break out the emergency Vaseline.
The Vidda Pro’s do come with a fair few useful features, including multitool pocket that opens at the bottom to slide in a small axe, 5 other sleek and well positioned pockets, as well as reinforced seat and knees [with optional foam inserts]. But for me the handiest feature of the day was the bottom of the trouser leg.
At the hem of the trouser leg, you will find a very well build elasticated draw strap and press studs for tightening the bottom of the trousers around the boot, as well as a hook to the front, for securing the hem to the laces of your boot. The combination of these two features eliminates the need for gaiters in most scenarios.
People often make the mistake that gaiters are to turn walking boots into some sort of mountain welly. If you were to stand in a foot of water wearing gaiters, you will get wet feet. They are simply an extra barrier; for example, when you step quickly through water, the water strikes the gaiter and runs off over the boot. Furthermore, if you walk through mud without gaiters, the mud will push your trousers up and pour in through the top of your boot. The same goes for snow, which will then melt into the boot. If you stop the trouser leg from riding up over the boot, as Fjällräven have done with their boot hook/draw strap combo, you are far less likely to require a gaiter. I found this was certainly the case when wading through snow drifts up the Munro that day.
As with all kit, take time to read the care instruction. As for the Vidda Pro’s, it is standard. Normal wash at 40C with similar colours. No bleach or fabric softener. Don’t tumble dry, and iron at temperatures no greater than 110C.
As for the Greenland Wax mentioned earlier, to apply a layer one must simply rub the wax onto the material and melt it into the fibres. An iron is recommended to melt the wax, however as I don’t want to use a potentially waxy iron on my nice shirts, I would use a hair drier. That way I can see how the wax is behaving in the heat, without risking any heat damage to the Material.
As for the number of layers? As many as you deem fit for the conditions you’re intending to subject yourself to. It’s also worth mentioning that the regularity of the waxing process depends entirely on the regularity of the use of the garment. And to reinforce a previous point mentioned, impregnating a garment with wax does not waterproof the material, only adapts it from water resistant to water repellent.
The only aspect I cannot yet pass opinion on is the lifespan of the Vidda Pro’s. Despite putting a lot of miles through them, I feel have not owned them for long enough to compare the longevity to other items in my arsenal. However given Fjällräven’s reputation, there is no doubt in my mind that these trousers will live up to the standards.
As for flaws, the only downside to the trousers that I can find is a pretty niche one. When your map pockets are fully laden, and you are either wearing thick gloves or have very cold hands, operation off the press stud buttons becomes a little bit laborious. Old fashioned button and holes would most likely eliminate this problem. However, I’m sure the design team will have faced this choice at the drawing board, and opted for press studs. They are far more durable, and in any case, the Nords are far less concerned about the cold.
Fjällräven have succeeded in making an outstanding, all-purpose bit of kit. I had my reservations about the price, as it’s difficult to justify spending that amount, especially when you’re not walking away with top spec uber technical mountaineering trousers. However, given their near flawless performance on the hills in the given conditions, I could not be happier. I can’t think of anything on the market that could be better value for money. It’s no wonder the Vidda Pro’s are such a popular trekking trouser, I only wish I had come round sooner.
You can shop the Fjallraven Vidda Pro Trouser and Vidda Pro Ventilated Trouser here with Free UK Mainland Delivery. For a limited time we are also offering 20% off all Fjallraven trousers!
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