We love brands with a particular history, especially when they are born from a specific need and in a difficult situation.
Such is the case with Fjällräven, a Swedish brand born in the 1960s from the need for a more spacious backpack.
Patagonia is another brand with a similar history, this time born in the USA from a climbing enthusiast who told himself blacksmithing. With his new learned ability, he started making climbing pitons and selling them to other mountaineers.
So, today we have two interesting brands that we’re going to compare by focusing on their outdoor gear. In the end, we’ll try to understand which of the two is the better brand and in what situations.
Let’s get down to work!
History of the Brand
The word Fjällräven means “Arctic Fox” in Swedish and this is also represented in the brand’s logo which is very beautiful in our opinion. Yes, we love beautiful original logos.
Fjällräven logo on the Kånken backpack
The company was founded in 1960 by the young Åke Nordin who was trying to design a backpack for hiking outside in nature. He needed a backpack that could bring heavier loads without being too tiring for his spine.
He started working and eventually managed to create the backpack that was dreaming about. He started selling it to the local communities.
After realizing that there was a need for lightweight and supportive backpacks, he founded Fjällräven to try to fill the gap in the market.
In the 1970s another invention was about to be brought to life by the company: the Kånken backpack. It was created to try to fix a problem that was rising among school kids in Sweden. The lack of backpacks that could carry their books properly was causing them back problems.
So, the Kånken was born! Today after almost five decades it’s one of the most popular products of the brand. It is used not just by school children, but also as a fashion item by people to bring books and other objects with them during day-to-day life in the city.
Over the years, Fjällräven has launched many other products covering many outdoor activities.
Today their collection is very rich: from insulated jackets and hiking pants, to trekking backpacks and camping tents, you’ll find everything you need for your next outdoor adventure.
Materials and Manufacture
Fjällräven’s jackets and backpacks are sturdy and last a long time. That’s one of the reasons the brand is very popular among outdoor enthusiasts.
The production is very meticulous and the attention to detail is at a high level: you can notice it as soon as you take one of their products in your hands.
Fjällräven Kånken backpack
As for the materials, G-1000 is one of them. A breathable and durable fabric, it is used in Fjällräven’s jackets. It can also be waxed making it a versatile material for different weather conditions. We have reviewed G-1000 here.
Next is down, natural down from ducks and geese which the Swedish company sources ethically. It is used in their winter parkas and insulated jackets, thanks to down’s ability as a perfect insulator in harsh temperatures. (learn more: Down vs Synthetic Jacket: What’s the Difference? Which Insulation is Better?)
Recycled polyester is also used to create other technical fabrics such as Eco-Shell for example, a weather-resistant, lightweight material.
Where are Fjällräven’s jackets, backpacks, and outdoor gear made?
Most of Fjällräven’s products are made in different Asian countries such as China, South Korea, and Vietnam. (source)
We know that many of you are wondering why aren’t they just producing in Sweden or at least in Europe. And yes, part of the answer is because of the lower cost of manufacturing that Asia offers today. But that’s not all.
Another reason, as someone on Reddit put it, is that there aren’t many garment factories in the US or Europe anymore. Moreover, people in Asia have been sewing for most of their life, thus offering a higher quality product than US or EU workers who don’t have that same experience.
All this is to say that quality brands can produce quality products even in Asia.
Now let’s take a look at two popular Fjällräven products that we love and we’re sure you will too.
Fjällräven Expedition Men’s Down Jacket
An iconic jacket from the 1970s, the Expedition jacket is made of Nylon and Polyester and insulated with Goose down. As the name suggests, it’s a very warm jacket suitable for the most difficult expeditions.
The price also reflects the quality of the product, being on the higher side. And honestly, we wouldn’t expect a lower price for this type of jacket, otherwise, we’d be left wondering if it’s original or not, haha.
You might also like: 10 of the Best Fjällräven Jackets Reviewed
Fjällräven Classic Kånken Backpack
Yes, we want to also show you one of the most famous products of the brand, the Kånken backpack, even if you’re not going to school anymore 🙂
It’s very well made, using the Vinylon F (100% vinylal) material, a very durable and sturdy fabric. In addition, the pack is water-resistant and with great attention to detail.
You can use it also as a casual backpack in your day-to-day life if you normally use backpacks to bring books or your laptop / tablet with you.
Fjällräven Kånken backpack
Read also: 7 Swedish Backpack Brands You Should Try
Fjällräven is not a cheap brand. For example, the Kånken backpack costs around $80-120 USD, while the Expedition jacket around $700 USD.
Having said that, the next question is: are Fjällräven products worth the price?
Yes, in our opinion. We like very much their minimal designs. Also, the durability of the products is one of the most appreciated characteristics of the brand by customers around the world.
History of the Brand
Patagonia, an American brand, was founded by rock climber Yvon Chouinard in 1973 and its headquarters are currently in Ventura, California.
But his founder’s experience with outdoor gear started way before.
In the 1950s, after learning blacksmithing, Yvon started creating and selling his own climbing pitons to other interested climbers. His company was called Chouinard Equipment. The Patagonia brand would come later in 1973.
Patagonia official website
After his first experience with climbing pitons, Yvon expanded with its new brand to cover apparel for different activities and sports, including surfing.
Over the next years, Patagonia’s offering became wider and wider including jackets, parkas, clothing, sleeping bags, backpacks, and more.
Today the company is a one-stop-shop for almost all your outdoor equipment needs, be it hiking gear, mountaineering apparel, camping gear, etc.
Materials and Manufacture
Since its beginnings, Patagonia has been very attentive to respect for the natural environment. They have made a great effort to reduce their waste and use recycled materials wherever possible, for example, recycled polyester.
Their Worn Wear program aims at giving a second life to used Patagonia products with the help of their customers.
In addition, the company’s materials are ethically sourced and fully traceable.
When it comes to processes and technologies, the Californian brand has developed many over the years. Their testing standard puts products in difficult conditions to assure the final product resists the worst weather.
Their H2No fabric technology, on the other hand, is a valid competitor to Gore-Tex which has been the standard of waterproof and breathable fabrics in the outdoor market for years.
H2No is available in different versions and layers, just like Gore-Tex. Patagonia uses both of these fabric technologies. We have compared H2No and Gore-Tex here if you want to learn more.
Where are Patagonia’s jackets and outdoor gear made?
Patagonia has also an important presence in Asia when it comes to product manufacturing. Most of its outdoor gear is made in China, Vietnam, Thailand, India, Bangladesh, etc.
Another smaller part of the products is made in Mexico and the USA.
When searching for Patagonia outdoor equipment, these two products stand out in various discussions in online communities: the Torrentshell jacket, and the Better Sweater fleece jacket. We have picked two versions of them below.
Patagonia Women’s Torrentshell 3L Jacket
The Torrentshell 3L jacket for women comes with a very minimal design: just the essential, most important features. It uses the 3-layer H2No® Performance Standard for optimal breathability and waterproofness, providing all-day comfort.
Patagonia Men’s Better Sweater Fleece Jacket
The Better Sweater for men is made with 100% recycled polyester fleece and comes with full-zip front closure.
It is a great option to use as a second layer in colder months or on its own in Spring and Autumn. It offers great mobility for your activities out in nature.
You might also like: 9 American Jacket Brands for Winter and Outdoor Activities
Patagonia has a wide selection of products but in general, it is placed among the first places on the expensive brands’ list. Its performance or insulated products can reach prices above $250 USD.
Is Patagonia’s outdoor gear worth the price?
In our opinion, yes, it’s worth it. The company offers high-quality products that perform very well, backed by good customer support.
If you want to learn more, you can also read our article on why Patagonia is so expensive and yet so popular.
3. Which Brand is Better?
We’d say Fjällräven, but we know that this is a personal choice. However, as you probably know from our other articles, these are opinion pieces where we just give some general thoughts. Because in the end, the choice will depend on your specific situation, what product you’re looking for, and for what activity or sport.
Having said that, we motivate our choice with Fjällräven’s designs being closer to our taste, someone would say a bit retro style. Also, we like their sturdy fabrics and materials, giving us a sense of durability and protection.
On the other hand, Patagonia has a wider selection of products and sports. For example, they offer equipment for surfing and fly fishing. Fjällräven is mostly focused on mountaineering, hiking, and expeditions.
When it comes to prices, both are quite expensive so it will depend on the specific product you’re looking for.
Another important point we have noticed is that both brands in the last few years have become more fashion-focused. So you’ll find clothing and accessories for everyday wear from both.
There you have it! Our opinion on Fjällräven versus Patagonia. Let us know in the comments below if you agree, disagree, or want to add something else.
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