Tested: Fjallraven Keb 72
Sweden’s Fjallraven has been producing trekking and climbing gear (backpacks, pants, outer shells, shorts and other apparel) for more than 50 years. The company has built an excellent reputation based on its products’ tough construction and innovative designs – all of which are the result of many decades of testing in trying conditions and terrain.
The trekking oriented Keb 72 (available in both men’s and women’s specific designs) is a great example of the company’s approach; the 2750g pack is bombproof in its construction. Key to its durability and thus longevity is the use of Fjallraven’s robust G-1000 Heavy Duty Eco S poly/cotton fabric (65% polyester and 35% cotton) combined with equally tough Bergshell material – a 400-denier polyamide (recycled nylon), which is used on the base and the sides of the pack.
Uniquely, the Keb 72 (as with some other Fjallraven packs) has a wooden frame (linseed-treated birch, in fact), rather than alloy. Fjallraven’s reasoning behind this material choice is that birch is more environmentally-friendly (a claimed 90 percent less emissions is used to create the frame, compared to an equivalent aluminium one), and can be used without sacrificing strength and flexibility needed in a heavy-load carrying backpack. And if you’re concerned about breaking the ‘wooden’ frame – don’t be: you’d have to be some type of super-human to accomplish that. Continuing that same ‘tough build’ ethos are the oversized clips (plastic and metal), eliminating any fear of one breaking when you’re in the middle of nowhere.
Sizing and harness fitment of the Keb 72 is straightforward. The harness is secured via a strap that is locked off through a sturdy metal buckle at the top of the pack. To adjust the harness length you simply unclip the strap’s lower buckle (an oversized plastic jobbie that sits behind the harness and away from your spine) and loosen that strap. It’s then simply a matter of sliding the harness up and down the birch frame until you have the desired fit. Then you re-tension the strap and clip it into the lower buckle. It takes a couple of minutes at most.
A key feature of the pack’s design is its slim profile; you’re not so concerned about scraping it up against tree branches or rock faces – or snagging yourself on these obstacles – when sidling through narrow tracks. The two side pockets are low set, helping keep load-weight on your hips and minimising any chance of snagging on vegetation. Other features include the large zipped front compartment that, itself, has a separate small zipped compartment and a larger sleeve, as well as more space above those under the main cover. The zips are heavy-duty but not totally waterproof – Fjallraven includes a waterproof cover to account for that. (Plus as experienced trekkers know, all gear in the pack – especially sleeping gear – should be stowed in dry-bags.)
The Keb 72’s lid includes a zipped compartment on the outside (for easy access to snacks, sunscreen, etc.) and also one on the inside for other gear. The main compartment in the pack is, as you’d expect, voluminous, allowing ample space for enough gear to do a week or more of trekking. Besides the top drawstring opening, you can also access the bottom of the pack via a zipped opening. This is ideal for stowing a sleeping bag; it makes it easier to access the bag from there rather than having to rifle through gear if using the top opening. Other load-lugging features include attachment points for trekking poles or ice axes (or skis) and, reflecting its Swedish origins, there are loops for carrying a toboggan.
We’ve had the Keb 72 out on a long weekend trekking adventure and a few (very long) day hikes (with not only the wearer’s gear, but additional layers for the kids, all the food needed, and water bottles) and it handles a heavy load very well. The harness system’s adjustability plus the padded hip-belt make for easy carrying of gear, while the robust G-1000 fabric promises years of service. The Keb 72 is not the lightest pack around but its load-lugging ability and simple-to-adjust harness system more than make up for those additional few grams.
RRP: $559.95 www.fjallraven.com.au