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Fjallraven Abisko Lite Trekking Zip-Off Trouser Review

Fjallraven Abisko Lite Zip-Off Trousers Review

Fjallraven Abisko Lite Zip-Off Trekking Trousers are lightweight, ventilated pants for use in warm climates or during the hotter summer months. Zipping off just above the knee and with two front-thigh cargo pockets, these pants are versatile enough for extended use when trekking or hiking in temperatures between 50 and 90 degrees. Made from Fjallraven’s G-1000 Lite fabric, which is a proprietary blend of ripstop polyester, cotton, and spandex, the Abisko Lite Trekking Trousers feel comfortable when wet, dry fast, and have proven to be a durable clothing option for many backcountry ventures over multiple seasons.

Specs at a Glance

  • Main fabric: 65% polyester/35% cotton; stretch fabric: 88% nylon/12% elastane
  • Weight: 470 g/16.5 oz
  • Type: Zip-off
  • Side cargo pockets: Yes
  • Number of pockets: 4
  • Sustainability: Contains recycled materials, Contains organically grown fibers

Durability

I love Fjallraven’s technical clothing because it’s durable and their products hold up over time while providing the function and comfort that I look for while in the backcountry. I purchased a pair of Abisko Lite trousers more than three years ago, and they immediately became my go-to trekking pants during the warmer summer months. I have used them on trips in diverse landscapes such as Wyoming’s Wind River Range (granite), Utah’s Escalante (sandstone) and the BWCA (thick brush, mud and wet); and they are none the worse for the wear, tear and abuse.

The pants fit mid-waist and have a “chino style” on the front
The pants fit mid-waist and have a “chino style” on the front

What makes these pants special is the combination of their comfort, breathability, and functionality as pants or shorts in hot or wet weather. Whether you are bushwhacking through dense forest or scrambling down into a desert canyon, the Abisko Lite Trekking Trousers keep you cool enough to keep going while providing the protection and core function that one would expect from a technical cargo pant.

Wax-based Waterproofing

Fjallraven makes most of their technical clothing with G-1000, a proprietary blend of tightly woven polyester and cotton that’s waxed to increase its water resistance. While cotton is treated as a taboo for outdoor clothing, this fabric blend makes the Abisko Lite Trousers breathable and fast drying. Wearers can make the pants waterproof by applying Greenland Wax to them with an iron or wash it out when it’s not needed. Since the wax is made with natural ingredients, it’s an environmentally friendly process that represents an interesting alternative to the use of waterproof/breathable fabrics that require DWR coatings to remain breathable and shed precipitation.

To increase water resistance, you’d apply Fjallraven’s Greenland Wax, which is a blend of beeswax and paraffin, to the whole or parts of the pants where more protection is desired.  Machine-washing the pants will reduce the amount of wax impregnation in the fabric, but it typically takes a few washings to remove all of it.

Increasing the waterproofness of the pants decreases their breathability, so it can take a little bit of experimentation to find the right amount of wax to suit your preferences. I prefer to wax the lower legs around the ankles/calves, the seat, and over the top of the two-thigh cargo pockets, to protect the contents. I leave the rest of the pants with little or no wax for maximum breathability where I need it most. The cotton in the G-1000 makes the un-waxed areas highly breathable and quite soft and comfortable. The fabric dries quickly and does not feel clammy or sticky on your skin when wet nor do they get heavy.

Stretch Panels

The Abisko Lite Trekking Trousers have stretch mesh panels on the parts of the pants where heat and perspiration can build up in:

  • Rear waist area
  • Inner thighs/crotch
  • Below the seat to just below the knees on the backside of the pants

The panels keep you cool and help dry any perspiration that develops.

Pockets

The Abisko Lite Zip-off trousers have four pockets, two traditional “chino style” hand pockets and two rectangular, flat cargo pockets, one on each front thigh. The Cargo pockets have a zipper closure with a fold-down zipper tab and a soft liner interior good for storing a smartphone, a lighter, compass, map, or small snacks. They help keep you organized on the trail and in camp with items that you would typically want to keep on your person.

A brass hook connects the front of the pants to your boots.
A brass hook connects the front of the pants to your boots.

Adjustable Hem and Gaiter

The Abiskos also have an adjustable hem and integrated gaiter that allows you to connect the pants to your boot laces and tighten the ankle hem around them. This works well at keeping ticks, debris, and water from overtopping your boots and is one of the main reasons I wax this portion of the pants for added water protection. However, the gaiter system does not work well with low cut shoes and is really designed to fit over mid-height or high cut boots.

Plastic clasp tightens the ankle hems around your boots.
Plastic clasp tightens the ankle hems around your boots.

Zip-Off Legs

The Abisko Lite Trekking Trousers come in two versions, one with zip-off legs and one without them. On the zip-offs, the leg zippers are well hidden and easy to use. The zipper is placed above the knee, which means that when you remove the lower leg portion the knees are not covered by the shorts. Mine cut off just above my kneecaps. I often remove the legs to relax when I get to camp but wear the full legs when hiking.

Sizing and Fit

The Abisko Lites have a technical cut with pre-shaped knees and straight legs for a slim looking fit, but with the 4-way stretch panels, the pants never feel tight or restricting. They sit at mid-waist, which by today’s standards feel like they are high, and I find that I always need to wear a belt. The Abiskos also tend to have a longer leg than most pants, but this is because of the gaiter function and having a longer leg length helps to keep them from being too tight on the knees when sitting down.

When zipped off for shorts, the legs end just above the kneecap
When zipped off for shorts, the legs end just above the kneecap. The ventilated stretch portions are a darker beige.

Comparable Hiking Pants

Make / ModelLeg StyleGenderPrice
Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible Hiking PantsConvertibleM | F$60
prAna Stretch Zion PantsRoll-upM$85
REI Sahara Convertible Hiking PantsConvertibleM | F$70
Outdoor Research Ferrosi Convertible PantsConvertibleM | F$90
Kuhl Renegade Cargo Convertible PantsConvertibleM$99
REI Screeline Hiking PantsFull LengthM | F$80
Mountain Hardware AP PantsRoll-upM | F$90
Arc'teryx Palisade PantsFull-lengthM | F$159
Marmot Arch Rock PantsFull LengthM$75
Fjallraven Vidda Pro PantsFull LengthM | F$150

Best Use of Abisko Lite Zip-Off Trekking Trousers

I consider the Abisko Lite Zip-Off Trekking Trousers to be a summer pant, and I use them almost exclusively when the temperatures are above 60 degrees. Even if it gets colder at night, a thin pair of merino wool long johns underneath will keep my legs quite warm in the evening. I have used these pants in the early fall when the temperature is a bit cooler because I like how well they regulate temperature while I am hiking, and I can always throw on a base layer and my rain pants should the temps get too chilly.

Sandstone is no match for a tough pair of Absikos
Sandstone is no match for a tough pair of Abiskos

Fjallraven Abisko Lite Trekking Trousers

Freedom of Movement
Fast Drying
Durability
Lots of Pockets
Venting and Air Circulation
Weight
Sizing

Lightweight and Durable

Fjallraven Abisko Lite Trekking Trousers are summer-weight ventilated trekking trousers that are tough enough to stand up to dessert conditions but will keep you cool all day long.

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Recommendation

The Abisko Lite Zip-Off Trekking Trousers are sturdy and versatile trekking pants that breathe exceptionally well when it gets warm outside. protected from the elements when you need it. For use primarily in the summer, these tough pants dry fast and breath well, even when wet. With two cargo pockets on the front of each thigh, a built-in gaiter system on the hem, durable ripstop G-1000 Lite fabric, stretch mesh panels and zip-off legs, the Abisko Lite Zip-Off Trekking Trousers are built to go wherever the trail takes you.

Disclosure: The author purchased this product.

Erik Birkeland is an avid hiker with a backpacking problem, that is, he just can’t seem to get enough. Living in Duluth, Minnesota with the Superior Hiking Trail just outside his backdoor, daily hikes and weekend treks fill his free time while he contemplates the next big adventure. He has completed numerous backpacking trips into such diverse landscapes as Escalante, the Wind River Range, the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, the BWCA, Isle Royale National Park, and even Iceland. While he hasn’t gone the farthest, fastest, nor the ultra-lightest; he does aspire to establish as many trekking BKTs (best known times) as possible - meeting the wilderness as it is, by simply getting out there.

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One comment

  1. At 5′ 10″ with a 33″ waist I’ve tried on several Fjallravem pants and found them ALL too tight in the calf area. I’m not exceptionally big or heavy (190#) but I could not wear Fjallraven pants comfortably.

    So I stick to Duluth Trading synthetic cargo pants for both summer and winter (with fleece lined cargo pants).

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