Sometimes, an outerwear brand is going to be born due to a specific need, with one such company being Fjällräven. Established more than 60 years ago in Sweden, Fjällräven was started because of the need for a roomier backpack.
Patagonia is a company with a similar background. It’s an American brand established by a mountaineer who ended up selling self-made climbing pitons to other climbers.
If you’ve been eyeing these two brands for quite some time but still can’t decide which one you should go with, keep reading. In this article, I take a closer look at each company and its most popular products.
Fjällräven – A General Overview
In Swedish, Fjällräven means “Arctic Fox”, and that says a lot about this brand – most of its products keep folks warm and cozy in freezing temperatures.
The brand was founded over half a century ago – in 1960 – by Åke Nordin, a Swedish entrepreneur. Back then, his main goal was to come up with a backpack that would be spacious and supportive at the same time.
Åke started working on this project and eventually created the exact type of hiking bag he had in mind. Other people got interested and Åke started selling his backpacks to the local communities.
Once he realized that there were a lot of outdoor enthusiasts in need of a supportive and lightweight backpack, Nordin decided to fill this gap in the market by founding Fjällräven.
During the next decade – the 1970s – the brand invented what would become one of its best-selling products: the Kånken backpack. The company’s designers wanted to solve one big issue among Sweden’s school kids: the lack of a school bag that can carry more than just a couple of books without leaving children with a backache.
Half a century later, the Kånken backpack is still incredibly popular. This backpack is not only used by school kids, but also by fashion lovers who want to carry their belongings in one seriously good-looking bag.
Over the years, the brand expanded into other industries and now offers products that cover various outdoor activities. Fjällräven’s catalog is rich: from camping tents to trekking backpacks, from hiking pants to insulated jackets – there’s something for every outdoor enthusiast.
The backpacks and jackets made by this brand are durable and long-lasting. That is precisely why Fjällräven is so popular among those who are serious about backcountry exploration.
The attention to detail and production are as meticulous as possible. One can easily notice this just by taking a Fjällräven product – whether it’s a bag or a jacket – into their hands.
One material that is often featured in this brand’s products is the G-1000 fabric. Mostly used in the company’s jackets, G-1000 is both durable and breathable. What is more, this fabric can also be waxed: this process turns it into an incredibly versatile material that can be used in various weather conditions.
Another material that is often found in Fjällräven’s products is geese/duck down (natural down), which is ethically sourced by the brand. As you can already guess, natural down is used in the company’s insulated jackets and winter parkas – it successfully retains body heat in freezing temperatures.
However, just like all other renowned outerwear manufacturers, this Swedish brand also uses a variety of synthetic materials, such as nylon and polyester. Most of its polyester is recycled, though – Fjällräven cares about the environment and tries its best to keep the manufacturing processes as sustainable as possible.
The brand uses this recycled polyester to create a number of technical fabrics. One of these – the Eco-Shell – is among the most lightweight and weather-resistant fabrics in today’s jackets.
This is not a cheap brand For example, the aforementioned Kånken backpack can cost as much as $120, depending on its style and size. Fjällräven’s popular Expedition jacket, on the other hand, retails at around $700.
Are this brand’s products worth all that money? In my opinion, they are – I’m a big fan of Fjällräven’s minimalistic designs. In addition, the vast majority of this company’s products are incredibly durable and can last for years, if not decades. If you want to check out other brands similar to Fjallraven, read our Canada Goose vs Fjallraven comparison.
In a similar vein, when considering Fjallraven vs Arcteryx, both brands exhibit a commitment to quality and durability, albeit with distinct aesthetic and technological approaches.
Fjallraven tends to embrace a classic, utilitarian style, while Arcteryx leans towards a sleek, modern design, often incorporating cutting-edge materials and technologies into their gear. Both have carved out their own niches in the outdoor gear market, appealing to different demographics and types of outdoor enthusiasts.
Fjällräven – Popular Products
Fjällräven Greenland Jacket
Durable, simple, and clean, the Greenland jacket is a great choice for those looking for classic designs and materials.
An important thing to remember here is that this model’s heat-trapping effect is limited due to its pile insulation. However, the model provides substantial water and wind protection due to its durable shell fabric.
The Greenland Jacket has seven pockets in total and its cuffs can be tightened with snaps. The shell fabric is beefy and thick, turning this model into a pretty good option for mild winter climates.
Finally, this Fjällräven jacket sports a genuinely sophisticated style – its design is classic yet unpretentious. It’s an excellent “shoulder season” model that can complement your well-insulated winter jacket.
- Exceptional weather resistance
- Lots of pockets
- Classic design
- Not for harsh winter conditions
Fjällräven Vidda Pro Pants
Highly durable and super-reinforced, these Fjällräven pants are a good option for both hikers and hunters.
The fit of the Vidda Pro pants is quite spacious and baggy, which, in turn, allows for a great degree of mobility. The thick material used in the manufacture of these trousers – the G-1000 fabric – traps heat very quickly and efficiently.
This warm and durable construction and the fact that the model comes equipped with a myriad of pockets allow the wearer to stay warm and well-organized. All of the pockets come with button flaps.
The only major disadvantage of Vidda Pro is its hefty price tag. However, this high cost is completely justified – these pants are seriously durable and warm.
- Thick, durable fabric
- Very warm
- Roomy fit
Patagonia – A General Overview
Founded in 1973 by the outerwear Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia is a U.S. brand with headquarters in Ventura, California.
Mr. Chouinard did not inherit his billions – decades ago, he was a zealous mountaineer, falconer, kayaker, and surfer who turned his passions into a thriving business.
Once he learned how to blacksmith – back in the 1950s – Chouinard started making climbing pitons and then sold them to other mountaineers.
After years of making and selling climbing pitons and other mountaineering equipment, Chouinard expanded into other industries and gave his company a new name – Patagonia, in 1973. The brand’s product range slowly became wider and wider, including backpacks, sleeping bags, clothing, parkas, jackets, and more.
Today, Patagonia is one of the world’s most beloved outdoor equipment brands, and for a good reason. Their camping and hiking gear and mountaineering apparel are among the best that money can buy today.
Ever since it was founded, Patagonia was a brand that genuinely cared about the environment. The company has made a massive effort to use recycled materials – such as recycled polyester – whenever possible. Patagonia also tries its best to reduce the waste left behind by its manufacturing processes.
One of Patagonia’s eco-friendly projects that deserves special words of praise is the Worn Wear program. The main purpose of this initiative is to give used Patagonia products a second life with the help of the company’s customers. I should also point out that all of the brand’s materials are fully traceable and ethically sourced.
When it comes to technologies and processes, Patagonia has developed many during the five decades of its existence. Furthermore, all of the brand’s products undergo rigorous testing to ensure they can genuinely resist harsh weather conditions.
Patagonia’s H2No fabric technology deserves a special mention. It is a true competitor to the ubiquitous Gore-Tex, although the brand uses this popular third-party waterproofing solution as well. After all, Gore-Tex is still seen as the golden standard of breathable/waterproof fabrics.
While it’s true that this American company has a massive selection of products, it is widely considered to be among the market’s pricier brands. Its insulated and performance jackets can cost more than $250.
Does it make sense to spend money on Patagonia’s outdoor gear? It absolutely does. These are high-performing, high-quality products that are held in high regard by millions of outdoor enthusiasts all over the world. The brand’s phenomenal customer support is another reason to opt for its jackets and other products. If you want to check out more similar brands, see our Arcteryx vs Patagonia comparison.
Patagonia – Popular Products
Patagonia Torrentshell Jacket
By far the most famous out of all Patagonia jackets, the Torrentshell is truly something special: it’s one of the most durable and versatile products on today’s market.
The 3-layer design of this jacket does wonders when it comes to weather resistance. The combo of a durable tricot liner, sturdy 50D face fabric, and Patagonia’s proprietary H2No waterproof membrane turns the Torrentshell into a truly storm-worthy piece of apparel.
The two 11″ pit zips are there to dump heat and help with moisture, while the model’s hood can be easily locked into place with its three cord locks.
As it breathes reasonably well and provides phenomenal weather protection, the Torrentshell jacket is one of the market’s best options for anyone interested in backcountry exploration.
- Unmatched weather protection
- Large & adjustable hood
- Decent breathability
Patagonia Quandary Pants
If you’re looking for a good pair of trousers for your backpacking adventures and/or day hikes, Patagonia’s Quandary pants are an excellent choice.
The slim-fitting and lightweight blend of spandex and recycled nylon does an impressive job of warding off rain and wind while also providing freedom of mobility. These trousers also sport UPF 50 sun protection, which can come in very handy when you’re trekking at higher altitudes.
The functional and simple array of pockets on Patagonia’s Quandary pants doesn’t provide as much room as the pockets on some other hiking trousers, but it also doesn’t slow the user down.
All in all, the stretchy fabrics used in the manufacture of these trousers make them highly flexible and thus suitable for use both in the backcountry and around town. These pants can and will protect you from the rain, wind, and sun.
- Superb protection against the elements
- Highly flexible & mobile
- Fair price
- Not many pockets
Fjällräven vs Patagonia – The Verdict
So, which one of these two renowned brands is better? I would go with Fjällräven. I like the company’s retro-ish designs and the fact that this brand uses rugged materials and fabrics.
Patagonia, on the other hand, has a much wider selection of products. Unlike its rival, which is mostly focused on hiking and mountaineering, Patagonia offers equipment for fly fishing, surfing, and many, many other outdoor activities.
I love hiking, backpacking, and camping. From the Camino de Santiago to the West Highland Way in Scotland or simply a great day hike on the weekend. Hiking refreshes me, my mind, and keeps my body reasonably fit. So far I have walked three Camino routes and many other long distance hikes in the UK, Canada, and around the rest of Europe. One of the best was my hike up Ben Nevis.