100 Miles in an Icon: Fjallraven Keb Trousers Review

Sean McCoy hikes on the Tour du Mont Blanc; (photo/Sarah Poinski-McCoy)

Whitewater rushed against my legs up to my knees as white noise thundered in my ears. With a bridge out early in the Tour du Mont Blanc season, I was forced to ford a rushing torrent or turn around. Ford it was.

Fortunately, my feet and legs were well-outfitted with waterproof Trango Tech GTX boots and Fjallraven Keb trousers. Thirty seconds after stepping into the rushing waterfall, I stepped safely on dry trail, feet still bone dry even after walking through 18 inches of icy meltwater.

Sure, the boots were great. But even more impressive were the trousers, which kept water at bay even though it was much higher than my boot-tops.

Fjallraven Keb Trousers review
Fjallraven Keb Trousers after 100 miles of hiking and one wash; (photo/Sean McCoy)

This spring, I wore the Fjallraven Keb trousers ($240) on every step of the iconic Tour du Mont Blanc, a 100ish-mile circumnavigation of Mont Blanc with 35,000 feet of elevation gain. The pants impressed me repeatedly with their versatility, durability, and comfort.

In short: Fjallraven Keb trousers are perfect trekking pants for cooler temps. With tough G-1000 fabric in high-wear areas and stretch panels, the pants are tough, comfortable, and non-restricting. They are highly engineered specifically for trekking and it shows.


Fjallraven Keb Trousers

Specs

  • Fabric
    G-1000 (65% polyester, 35% cotton), stretch panels (63% polyamide, 26% polyester, 11% elastane)
  • Fit
    True to size
  • Weight 19.75 oz. (size 30R)
  • Waxable water-resistance on G-1000 panels
  • UPF 50+

Pros

  • Durable and protective

  • Good ventilation

  • Spacious pockets

  • Built-in gaiters

Cons

  • Heavy

  • Too warm for hot weather

Fjallraven Keb Men’s Trousers Review

If you’ve spent much time around outdoorsy types, you’ve probably seen the Fjallraven Keb. Launched in 2010 and updated in 2018 and 2019, it’s one of the top products from Fjallraven.

I first noticed these pants while living in Alaska for a summer in the mid-2010s, where one of my friends wore them on pretty much every outing. On several trips to Scandinavia, I saw them (or near replicas) darn near everywhere. But somehow, in more than a decade of gear testing, I’d never gotten in a pair myself.

I finally had the chance this spring, and coincidentally, I also received a near clone by the U.S. hunting brand Forloh. Having used both pairs hard this spring, I have developed a fondness for both.

While Forloh makes a great pair of pants (and I appreciate that they’re manufactured in the U.S.A.), it’s really hard to beat the OG.

Man wearing backpack and Fjallraven Keb pants
The author at a pass on the TMB; (photo/Sarah Poinski-McCoy)

Hiking 100 miles over 8 days pressed the Keb into hard use. I crossed dozens of shin-deep streams, glissaded down hundreds of meters of packed snow, and sloshed through miles of mud and brush-covered side trails. My phone, a knife, snacks, and other gear were always stashed in the plentiful pockets.

I never once wished for any changes in the pants. They are dialed.

Keb Vents, Fabric, and Details

Starting on the bottom, the Keb has adjustable cuffs that allow the wearer to tighten them to their boots. They also have a gaiter hook that lashes them to boot laces.

This was critical in deep stream crossings and soft snow conditions, and allowed me to keep my gaiters in my pack. The built-in gaiter is highly functional for shorter-duration use. I was blown away that they kept my feet dry in deep stream crossings. The water resistance of the G-1000 fabric is legit.

Fjallraven Keb wear on cuff
After hiking the TMB, the Keb trousers are showing the first signs of use in high-wear areas like the cuffs; (photo/Sean McCoy)

Moving up the pants, the G-1000 protects your legs all the way to the thigh. Zip vents allow airflow on the calf and upper thigh, and these work great on the men’s version. It’s worth noting that the women’s version (which my wife owns) has mesh over the upper vent.

We weren’t sure why, but that mesh resulted in much less airflow than in the mesh-free men’s.

The vents on the sides of the Keb trousers are crucial for warmer hiking; (photo/Sarah Poinski-McCoy)

Side note: Don’t forget the sunscreen behind the side vents. I got a nasty sunburn one day after hiking for 10 hours with no sunscreen on under the open vents. It was a small patch of skin, but it did get pretty fried!

Water-Resistant, Not Waterproof!

I want to clarify one detail: While the Keb pants, particularly the G-1000 panels, are quite water-resistant, they are not waterproof. They will get wet in heavy and prolonged rain.

This happened to me on a rainy Tour du Mont Blanc day. A few hours of hard hiking in a downpour was enough to soak my legs. My upper body stayed nice and dry under a Patagonia GORE-TEX Pro jacket. Below the waist was another story.

Adjustable gaiter cuff on Fjallaven Keb trousers
The adjustable gaiter cuff on the Fjallraven Keb trousers, shown here above boots with traction devices on the TMB, allow users to keep water and debris at bay; (photo/Sean McCoy)

It was the last day of our hike, so I decided to push through to get to the end without pulling out my rain pants. And ultimately, I was fine with damp legs. But just be aware that while the G-1000 panels on the lower leg and backside will resist water for short times like stream crossings, prolonged rain will seep through the upper stretch panels. Eventually, you’ll be soaked.

If you need rain pants, look elsewhere.

Keb Trouser Pockets

The Keb pants have good pockets. I largely used the two hip pockets to carry my phone while hiking. I also carried my wallet in the hip pocket during many parts of the hike where refugios offered lunch or drinks for purchase. During other portions of the hike, I put my wallet in my pack for more secure carry.

Fjallraven Keb pockets

I did carry items in the button-down thigh pockets from time to time. But while hiking, I generally found the hip pockets secure enough. They also are easier to access quickly when wanting to grab photos on the trail.

Overall, the pocket design is good. The right thigh pocket adds a stretchy sleeve inside to keep a cellphone or other item locked in place and helps the carry feel more comfortable.

There are no rear pockets, a thoughtful design choice that keeps the back of the pants streamlined. I appreciated this while glissading sections of downhill snow.

Keb Trousers: Who They’re For

The author crossing a large snow field in the Kebs during the TMB; (photo/Sarah Poinski-McCoy)

The Fjallraven Keb trousers are ideal for hikers in cool climates who want a tough, long-lasting pant. The blend of stretchy and tough fabric optimizes the design for both comfort and durability. And features like gaiter cuffs and side vents add versatility.

For those who want a rugged all-around outdoor pant, these are a great choice. They excel in cool-to-cold temperatures, but can stretch into warm weather with the side vents open.

If this sounds like you, I wouldn’t hesitate to grab a pair. There’s a reason these are iconic trekking pants around the trekking world: they work, and a single pair will last for years. They may inspire replication, but if you’re looking for time-tested performance, there’s no replacement for the Fjallraven original.

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