These upcoming days will be all about comparisons between brands and fabric technologies, with the first one being today’s comparison review of Fjällräven and The North Face.
Extensively featured in a majority of our reviews, selections and comparisons between jackets, both of these brands are two very popular ones on the online market for sportswear and outdoor gear. Another thing they have in common is their prices, so we are talking high-end products, as you will see below.
As per usual, we will look at each separately, how they came to be, where they stand now and what materials and prices you can expect when purchasing one of their jackets.
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A short history of the brand
We will begin with Fjällräven, the Swedish brand established in 1960 by Åke Nordin.
The first products were rucksacks, which had an external frame, unlike any available on the market at the time. The idea came to Nordin after continuous disappointments with regular backpacks, which were uncomfortable and caused back problems.
The fabric used in tents was used to create these rucksacks and in just a decade, the brand got quite a reputation for their clothing, too, which were also made from that very same fabric.
Must read: Why is Fjällräven so Expensive and Popular? Are their Products Worth It?
Nowadays, their main market is that of Nordic countries, but other citizens from a lot of European countries, as well those in the US, are huge fans of the brand.
Materials and Manufacture
As with most sportswear brands, Fjällräven also relies mostly on polyester for their jackets. However, they use recycled polyester in order to minimize the environmental impact that they leave behind.
Cotton is also used, in combination with polyester, to create their own fabric, which is the G-1000. This is a densely woven fabric, which is capable of withstanding wear and tear, as well as different kinds of weather.
An important feature of this fabric is its customizability in regards to weather resistance. You can wear it as is, keeping it breathable and water-resistant, or fully waterproof it by using wax.
The wax recommended by the brand is Greenland Wax and for an in-depth tutorial of how to correctly wax a jacket take a look here.
Another fabric they have developed is Eco-Shell, which is made of recycled polyester and it is very lightweight, highly breathable and very durable. It is also a fabric that adapts to movement so it is quite useful to those who want a functional jacket.
A very important feature of this fabric is its ability to withstand wet conditions by being waterproof, without PFC impregnation, which you won’t find in most brands. PFC is a material used to make fabrics water repellent, but it does not break down in nature and therefore its environmental impact is long lasting and a cause for concern.
Now, when it comes to insulation, Fjällräven uses both natural down, as well as synthetic insulations.
They often prefer goose down and try to avoid synthetic insulators, unless necessary. Such is the case with jackets that are designed for outdoor activities like hiking, climbing, mountaineering and similar ones. These jackets need to be able to maintain warmth even when wet, a quality that natural down, as great as it is, does not have.
For this, they use two synthetic insulators, the G-Loft Supreme and Supreme Microloft. They are able to insulate even when wet and are quite resistant to wear, while doing a great job at mimicking down feathers both in shape and composition, as well as durability.
Lastly, a material that bears mentioning is the use of wool, which is sourced from Sweden and Italy. Contrary to popular belief, as stated in their website as well, wool is not an insulator but a temperature regulator. It has the ability to wick away moisture and cool you down in warm weather, while also being able to provide warmth in low temperatures.
All of the natural materials are sourced responsibly, which include the down and wool from sheep and lambs.
There are many jackets by this brand, which fit both the quality and popularity criteria. We have done a piece exactly on that and from that one we will look at two jackets, Iceland Anorak and Expedition.
Iceland Anorak is a winter jacket made of G-1000 Original fabric and it comes in a hoodie design, where it opens on the sides.
With numerous pockets, most of which oversized for practicality, this is an excellent jacket for outdoor activities and harsh weather, especially since it also comes with faux fur trim on the hood.
As for Expedition (check it out on Amazon.com), this is a down jacket insulated with 90% goose down and made of 100% Polyamide, so it is quite durable to wear and tear, as well as weather. This is one of their original down jackets, firstly launched in 1974 and it has withstood the test of time.
We did mention that both brands are quite expensive and whether you are shopping on Amazon or on their respective websites, you will come across some interesting prices.
With jackets that begin at around $150 and move upwards of $800, you can definitely find the one that best suits your needs, as well as your wallet.
2. The North Face
A short history of the brand
Because just a few weeks ago we went quite in-depth with The North Face, we would like to keep it short and sweet in this comparison.
The North Face was founded in 1966 in California, where it first sold backpacking and outdoor equipment. It has now become one of the top US brands for sportswear not solely for the range of products and good quality, but also because of their trendy and modern designs.
You might also like: The North Face vs Patagonia: A Comparison
Materials and Manufacture
Similarly to Fjällräven, The North Face uses mostly recycled polyester for their products, as well as responsibly-sourced cotton. There is also an important focus on environmental conservation and they try to minimize the use of PFCs as much as possible.
Read also: 10 Outdoor Brands like “The North Face” that You’ll Love
They have developed DryVent, a fully waterproof and windproof fabric that comes in numerous versions.
FlashDry is another fabric technology that helps wick moisture away and keep the body temperature level. They also use other fabric technologies such as Gore-Tex and WindWall.
For insulation, either natural goose down or ThermoBall is used. ThermoBall is a synthetic insulation that is made to mimic down in shape and performance, while not losing its abilities when wet.
Read next: 8 of the Best The North Face Down Jackets Reviewed
We have looked at a lot of The North Face jackets over the past two years and it sometimes is a bit hard to choose two or three top products of theirs.
Since it’s only fair to compare similarly-performing jackets, we will look at Gotham III, a down jacket, and Fuseform Cesium Anorak.
Gotham III (check it out on Amazon.com) is made of DryVent 2L fabric and comes with 550 fill goose down for insulation. This is a very warm down jacket as well as weatherproof, so you can wear it throughout winter, regardless of weather.
As for Fuseform Cesium Anorak (check it out on Amazon.com), this jacket is a hoodie-like, just like the Iceland Anorak and it comes with a kangaroo pocket, adjustable hem and elasticized cuffs and hood.
It is waterproof and breathable, suitable for different outdoor activities as it adapts quite well to movement.
Read also: The North Face Real vs Fake Jacket: How To Spot It?
With several more affordable options, The North Face provides jackets that start at around $70 to $150. Of course, being a pricey brand, most of its jackets are priced over $200, with some costing more than $500.
Must read: Are The North Face Jackets Worth the Price? Why are they So Expensive?
3. Which One Is Better?
Style-wise, The North Face provides a lot more options and modern designs, which is why it’s such a beloved brand by many people, including celebrities.
The quality is commendable and their jackets are high performance, very suitable for outdoor activities. Out of the two, The North Face is the more affordable brand and offers great quality jackets.
On the other hand, Fjällräven also designs functional jackets, but has a more limited product range.
However, quality-wise, Fjällräven definitely has the upper hand as their jackets are made to withstand harsh weather and challenging conditions effortlessly, while lasting for a very long time, too.