I’m hard on my apparel’s elbows. Maybe it’s because I recline on any and every surface on breaks and in camp. Or maybe it’s that I wear garments until they’re rags. Either way, it’s shocking to think about all the places I’ve rubbed the elbows of my Keb Fleece over the last five years with little more to show for it than some slight bagging. Its 73 percent polyester content and a tighter weave than many fleeces accounts for the durability, but the fabric isn’t a one-trick pony: It still lets enough air through, and the 20 percent wool content means I’ve worn it for five days in the backcountry and then boarded a plane home without offending seatmates for being stinky. The Keb’s athletic fit, long arms, and comfortable hood make it a pack essential that I’ve used as my main insulation piece in summer (the fleece is soft against skin), as a middie in winter, and as an outer layer in shoulder season. A single chest pocket fits a phone and pair of sunglasses, and it packs down to the size of a handbag.
The Keb isn’t perfect: The leather zipper pulls deteriorated in about two years, and five years on, the elastic edging around the hood has started to come loose. But that damage is covered under warranty, and after hundreds of wears, a roundtrip to Fjällräven’s free repair service is the least I can do.