Upon first thoughts, the idea of cotton walking trousers in a country that has weather with the level of indecisiveness as ours seems like a bad idea – but add to the equation that 65% of the G-1000 material used in the Fjallraven Vidda Pro is polyester, and that it can also be waxed to add water resistancy, the whole prospect becomes a bit more interesting. The phrase “cotton kills” with regards to not wearing cotton clothing in the outdoors is something that has always resonated with me since my early days of hill walking when seeking advice about appropriate layers, so Fjallraven’s G-1000 fabric is something that has seemed like a bit of a paradox to my mind.
The first thing that is instantly noticeable about the Fjallraven Vidda Pro trousers is the quality of their construction. Probably the most robust hiking trousers I have ever picked up, the fabric feels incredibly durable. The strong prescence of polyester in the mix of G-1000 shines through in this aspect, and the trousers certainly put up with abrasion against Peak District gritstone admirably. The material does feel a little bit stiff it must be said, and there isn’t much stretch, but the Vidda Pro do soften up after a few washes and are comfortable and accommodating. At every seam, the stitching suffers no imperfection and the strength is pretty clear. It is hard to envisage that the seams would split after any length of time – because of that; despite not having the benefit of much in the way of stretch, the Vidda Pro will do well when used for scrambling and other such activities. Their durable nature does bring a slight downside to the Vidda Pro, in that they are pretty heavy when compared to alot of other hiking trousers at 585g for a mens size 32″ waist.
As a material, polyester is hydrophobic however; the cotton content of G-1000 means that the Vidda Pro are only lightly water resistant unless treated with Fjallraven’s Greenland Wax. After having decided to treat one leg with wax and one without to investigate the difference it is suprising that even when untreated, the trousers do not instantly become saturated when faced with light drizzle. Once the rain does get a little too much, the G-1000 fabric does dry impressively quickly. Harking back to that phrase “cotton kills”, and thinking about cotton t-shirts never drying out; the Vidda Pro defeat that notion thanks to the right combination of polyester with the cotton. Of course, a large part of the Vidda Pro trousers and in fact any of Fjallraven’s G-1000 garments is the adaptability you get when waxing.
It’s a pretty laborious task, it must be said – but waxing the Vidda Pro trousers is something definitely worth doing if you’re unsure about potential weather conditions. There were some initial reservations over the impact on the breathability but on a mild day with a breeze, there was no danger of overheating. It’s hard to imagine that the fabric would perform as well as a softshell material during warm weather, the difference though is that the cut of the Vidda Pro may still allow them to feel comfortable. There didn’t seem to be a huge difference in the wind resistancy of the fabric after the treatment, but it has been said that the wax should add to it. With the main benefit of G-1000 fabric and main job of Greenland Wax being to improve the water shedding capabilities of these trousers, heading up Grindsbrook Clough in the Peak District on a dodgy looking weather day seemed as good a benchmark as any.
With on and off drizzle, the Vidda Pro seemed to cope moderately well even in untreated areas. As I have already mentioned, the fabric wasn’t that easily overwhelmed and dried off quickly once it became wet. In areas of the trousers treated with Greenland Wax, it was pretty easy to see a difference. Even in spells of heavier rain, water beaded and rolled away well. Scrambling up Grindsbrook Clough didn’t seem too much for the treatment either despite the fact the brook was in decent flow. In three season use, and the lesser weather days of Autumn and Winter, the weatherproofing would perform as well the softshell trousers I would usually favour. During lengthy spells of heavy rain though, waxed G-1000 does eventually submit and begin to wet out – not unlike softshell fabric. In worse weather, you would need to couple with overtrousers.
In terms of functional features, the Fjallraven Vidda Pro trousers have their fair share. A great number of decent sized pockets with solid press stud fasteners (including a map pocket that actually fits a map) reinforced seat and knees and an elasticated ankle cuff adjuster all add to the well made and functional construction of these trousers. The ankle adjuster is a nice touch and different from the usual zip adjustment. There are three press stud fastenings that can be used to give a good level of cinching if needed.
The Fjallraven Vidda Pro are a pair of premium trousers, no doubt. Completely bombproof and feature some really sensible features that improve functionality. When treated with Greenland Wax, the material is as useful as softshell but perhaps not quite as breathable in warmer weather. The company’s flourocarbon free approach, and use of cotton heavy fabrics bring less impact to the environment in their manufacture too. The material does bring some drawbacks with it, in that the Vidda Pro are heavier than other trousers aimed at the same activities. There is no real stretch in G-1000, but the cut could be regarded as a good route around this if a more roomy fit is preferred. Well suited to backpacking, mountain and hill walking the Vidda Pro present a great alternative to softshell trousers for three season use.