Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Gear Closet: Fjällräven Eco-Shell Bergtagen Trousers Review

On my recent trip to Arctic Europe I was outfitted for the journey by Swedish brand Fjällräven, who hooked me up with some incredible gear to keep me warm, dry, and comfortable in the cold conditions. Over the course to this entire week, I'll be sharing my thoughts and reviews of the majority of that gear and letting you know why it should be in your gear closet as well. Most of the products I tested fell into the company's new Bergtagen line, which is a complete system built specifically with mountaineers in mind. That makes this gear a bit on the pricy side for the average consumer, but for the mountain professional, the guide, the avid adventurer, or explorer, this is the equipment you're going to want to have at your disposal, as it delivers amazing performance in the absolute worst of conditions.

Yesterday I took a look at Fjällräven's Eco-Shell Jacket, giving it high marks in terms of durability, breathability, and all-around functionality in poor weather. Today, we'll examine the Bergtagen Eco-Shell Trousers as well, which bring the same level of comfort and performance to mountaineering pants, offering uncompromising protection from the elements.

Made from the same waterproof and breathable fabrics as the Eco-Shell Jacket, the trousers offer amazing breathability while managing to offer impressive protection from both the wind and rain. And like its jacket counterpart, the fabrics used in these pants are made from recycled materials and a fluorocarbon-free DWR treatment. That means that both garments are good for the environment, even as they protect you from the worst things it can throw at you.

Like the Eco-Shell Jacket, the trousers offer an athletic cut that is designed to work well with base layers underneath, while still conforming to you body without inhibiting motion. In fact, these pants fit so nicely that they don't feel like a hardshell trouser at all, making them comfortable to wear both indoors and out. Full-length zippers along each leg help with venting, while elastic Veclro adjustments along the waist – paired with extra-wide belt loops and reinforced suspender zones – help wearers dial in the right fit.

The Eco-Shell Trousers also come with zippered pockets on each leg, which feature mesh linings on their interior. Fjällräven has also reinforced high stress zones, such as along the ankles where a crampon might catch the fabric, to ensure the pants remain damage free through hundreds of days of use in the outdoors. These pants even have integrated Recco reflectors to help keep us safer in the mountains.

Anyone who has ever worn pants from Fjällräven can attest to how well they perform on the trail. Their trousers offer a great fit, are super well made, and are designed to be highly functional. That said however, the Eco-Shell Trouser takes that performance to an entirely new level. These are a hard-shell pant that has beens specifically designed for mountaineers, guides, and serous adventure travelers. In fact, I'd venture to say that they are the only pair of pants you need for just about any alpine pursuit or cold weather adventure, save those taking you into the extreme Arctic or Antarctic conditions.

While in Arctic Europe I broke these pants out in the coldest and worst conditions when I knew I was going to be outside for an extended period of time. I wore them dogsledding, snowmobiling across a frozen sea, and snowshoeing through the forest. Each time, I paired them with a light baselayer underneath, and remained completely warm and comfortable, even as windchill caused temperatures to plummet to -40ºF/C at times. Believe me, there are few things colder than zipping along on a snowmobile in those types of conditions, and yet the Eco-Shell Trouser kept me well protected from the howling winds, blowing snow, and subzero temperatures.

As with the Eco-Shell Jacket, this kind of performance doesn't come cheap. The Eco-Shell Trousers will set you back $470, bringing the entire ensemble – including the jacket – to just over $1000. That makes it a very expensive investment for the average consumer, who can find other shell pants for half the price that probably meet their needs. But for the boundary-pushing mountaineer, mountain guide, explorer, or adventurer, these pants are worth every penny. They simply outperform anything else that I've tested in this category, making them an indispensable part of my personal gear closet moving forward. For my money, there is no finer mountaineering pant on the market today, and if you need this level of performance and protection, I think you'll feel the same.

Find out more at the Fjällräven website.

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