We all know it, when it comes to producing outdoor clothing the Scandinavians have got it nailed. From the all round functionality of the clothes to the simple details that make all the difference when you’re using it in anger. The Fjallraven Vidda Pro trouser is a perfect example of a garment that strikes this balance.
Think about it for a minute, how many of us have spent hundreds of pounds on jackets, fleeces and tops but placed far less importance on trousers? If we look at the percentage breakdown of how the human body loses heat, it may make you think again;
- 18% Upper front torso
- 18% Upper back torso
- 18% Per leg
- 9% Per arm
- 5% – 7% Head
- 3% – 5% Extremities
It’s incredible, but almost 40% of heat loss is through the legs. This coupled with the fact that many of us practicing Bushcraft and Survival end up scrambling about the ground on our hands and knees or sitting for large periods of time, and all this in the changeable British weather, means that a well designed and hard wearing trouser is essential.
The G1000 material that the Vidda’s are made of is 65% Cotton and 35% Polyester. So what does this mean? Well basically it makes the fabric excellent for all round use as it is versatile, hard wearing and quick drying. I have personally used them above 1000 metres in the Scottish Winter, standing ball deep in water making river crossings, running woodland survival courses, and even simply walking down the street. The way these trousers react in these testing environments (perhaps not the streets) is interesting.
Some of you may be thinking “Wait a minute, wearing cotton when it’s likely to get wet?” It’s all down to the Polyester/Cotton ratio mix, and the ‘old school’ Greenland Wax that you are encouraged to treat them with. Once they’ve been saturated the drying out time is impressively quick, far quicker than you’d think. The clever thing about the Greenland wax is that it allows you to customise the water repellent capabilities of the garment. Say you were going into the woods for 3 days, scrambling around on the ground as mentioned previously – simply layer up the knee sections with wax, leaving the rest of the Vidda’s breathable. The Greenland wax can be applied at home and melted in with an iron or alternatively out in the field using a gas stove or open fire. Don’t get me wrong, they’re not waterproof, merely water resistant when treated, and shouldn’t be substituted for waterproof over trousers.
Using the Vidda’s in the mountains of Britain in the Winter isn’t a problem, you just need to understand how fabric behaves in cold environments. Scotland’s mountains during the winter are notoriously hard to cope in, the main reason being the temperate environment of the British Isles. Although it’s cold up high it can also be wet and, unlike Scandinavia and other Arctic regions, the ambient temperature on top of a Scottish mountain very rarely drops below -10°C. In extreme cold the G1000 fabric (cotton constituent especially) freezes almost like a shell, adding to the wind proofing. Yet in the wet and cold weather that prevails in the Scottish mountains the Vidda trousers will saturate unless heavily treated with Greenland wax, or covered by a water resistant layer.
One of the biggest problems I find with outdoor trousers is that the seams, usually around the crotch (insert joke here), tend to tear, which is never ideal. The G1000 material is bombproof, and the seams are all double sewn. The knees are articulated so that when you bend or stretch it doesn’t stress the fabric, and you can also purchase knee guards that slide between the inner and outer fabric. Both the knees and seat of the Vidda’s are reinforced and will take a real hammering.
The Vidda’s have a total of 6 outer pockets, one of which doubles up as an axe holder. My personal favourite touch is the way the leg pockets are offset. The two left pockets sit at the front of the leg, so when you’re kneeling down you can get into them easily – a great place to stow your fire lighting equipment, tinder and generally handy things. I now double-check these pockets before putting them in the wash after a rogue limpet shell broke my washing machine.
The leg cuffs are superbly designed with an in-built gaiter feature at the front of the leg. There is also a popper ‘cinch’ feature that allows a tight fitting around the top of the boot. Ideal for those venturing into the high treeline where snow may be abundant, or those of you that are paranoid about ticks and other biting insects.
At Backcountry Survival we are big fans of KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) and the Fjallraven Vidda Pro trousers are a great example of this. Highly functional but with a simple design, we can’t recommend them highly enough. The Vidda Pros are part of a huge range of Fjallraven trousers available from specialist outdoor retailers such as Above and Beyond.