The Fjallraven Abisko shorts seem right at home on a long trek where the necessity of a hefty load is already a foregone conclusion. Their combination of burly and stretchy fabrics makes them both comfortable and durable. The pockets on these shorts are meant to carry. This model is super hefty, which means that their versatility is somewhat limited and their style may not be for everyone. However, we are impressed with their construction and quality. They are certainly not for going fast and light, but if you need a pair for the long haul, these are an excellent choice.
Fjallraven Abisko Short Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Durable, deep front pockets
Cons: Expensive, not water resistant, comfortable
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Our Analysis and Test Results
These shorts are different than the rest. Though their utility is geared toward heavy use, and there are a lot of hikes we wouldn't want to take them on, we can't help but appreciate the thoughtful details that make these shorts the workhorses that they are.
The Fjallraven Abisko shorts are comfortable and come with a nice set of features. Their niche style and versatility, and limited breathability put them in the middle of the pack.
Comfort and Mobility
These shorts combine two kinds of fabric to achieve a balance between comfort and durability. The front, lower back/hip area, and lower legs are all made from a 63% polyamide/26% polyester/11% elastane blend that is extremely stretchy. The seat and portions of the pockets are made from a super durable 65% polyester, 35% cotton blend that is fairly stiff and meant to put through the wringer. The crotch is gusseted (with the rugged poly/cotton blend), and the stretch fabric facilitates a high degree of mobility; our testing showed that it was all in the right places. We especially appreciated the strip of stretch just below the waist, which really helped the shorts stay in place when wearing a pack.
The limiting factors include the longer inseam and their weight. Between the heavy fabrics, pockets, and zippers, we noticed the weight over a pair like the Patagonia Nine Trails.
The Abisko shorts are notable for what they include and what they don't. There are four exterior pockets, and we really like the thought that must have gone into their size, shape, and positioning. There are two front hand pockets with zippers, and two thigh pockets with metal and plastic snap closures. The left thigh can accommodate a smartphone or a handheld GPS; in fact, its size and shape suggest that is exactly what it is meant for. The pocket also has an asymmetrical pleat that allows it to expand ever so slightly. The right pocket is much larger and is made from the stretch material (you can fit a small e-reader in there). It also contains a smaller mesh pocket that is large enough for a set of car keys or an energy bar.
There are no rear pockets, which is a little surprising on a pair of shorts that seems like it is designed to carry some weight; however, we don't really miss them because of how effective the other ones are. The two front pockets have zippers, which is great for security and peace of mind. They are also extremely deep - the deepest of any model that we tested. The opening to each of the hand pockets is also placed a little more toward the front, which we came to discover makes them easier to access with a pack hip belt clipped around your waist.
These shorts also come with a two-part closure for extra durability-- there are both an interior-facing plastic button and regular metal button to secure the waist.
Versatility and Style
This model doesn't scream versatility. Instead, they are high-quality and hefty, meant for trekking or hearty outdoor work. We would consider them for a day hike, but if you are looking to slim down on weight, these are not the shorts for you.
Their features are thoughtful and valuable for sure, but we don't think these shorts are particularly stylish. They are a little surfer dude meets lumberjack.
Weather Resistance and Dry Time
There is a lot going on with these shorts in terms of weather resistance; their length and thickness make them a good break against the wind. They don't have an official UPF sun protection rating, but we suspect they have you covered just fine.
We didn't find that the sturdier cotton-blend fabric (called G-1000) was particularly water-resistant, but Fjallraven promotes a wax treatment for many of its garments, these shorts included. The stretch fabric initially appeared to be water-resistant, but we ran into a similar issue as we did with the Marmot Limantour. Namely, the fabric is stretchy enough that as you move, water eventually works its way through the material. Because of their weight and thickness, they don't dry particularly quickly either.
Venting and Breathability
Venting and breathability are sort of a six-in-one, half-dozen-in-the-other situation. None of the pockets are mesh, and there are no obvious vent points. The stretch fabric offers some breathability, and the fit is loose enough that there is more airflow than with other pairs; however, the G-1000 fabric is heavy and hot.
These shorts are meant for trekking with a big pack across rough terrain. We envision a remote mountain traverse, with a lot of scrambling and careful descents. They are also good for traveling, especially if you need to keep important documents close at hand and secure. They are overkill for it, but we would also enjoy outdoor chores like lawn mowing or splitting wood - if that's your thing.
Ringing in at $125, they are right up there as one of the most expensive pairs that we tested. For most people doing most activities, we can't totally justify the price tag. However, if you have had your eye on this pair specifically, or find that its best applications are exactly what you plan on using them for, then we don't think that you will be disappointed with what you get and how long they last you.
The Fjallraven Abisko shorts are a rare combination of comfortable and durable (emphasis on the durable). They are heavy and will be good on cold mornings before you have had a chance to warm up for the day. They are pricey, so their niche utility will likely be worth it to those looking for trekking shorts, but this thoughtfully designed pair of shorts is worth a look for any hiker who wants a high-quality garment.
— Ben Applebaum-Bauch