'The Firewall's killer combination of soft-feeling, quiet fabric, great cut, top hood and design detail is topped off with the world's best pit-zips at a cracking price.'
Outdoors Magic: Demon pit-zips, nice, quiet fabric with stretch, decent breathability, good cut and at a super-competitive price too.
Outdoors Tragic: Adjusters a little fiddly with gloves, no posh Vislon molded main zip.
Outdoors Grabbit? Brilliant value for a great-feeling 'name' fabric backed up with an excellent cut and the best pit-zips we've ever used. The Firewall's a cracking mountain waterproof all-rounder, with the only signs of cost-cutting being the absence of a modish YKK Vislon main-zip in favour of a standard water-resistant one. A great jacket, particularly at this price.
Lightweight mountain jacket / NEW Pertex Shield® + 3L fabric with stretch / helmet compatible hood with wired peak and brushed-tricot lined collar / roll-down anti-snag Velcro tab / 2-way YKK® AquaGuard® front zip with dual internal storm flap system / 2 YKK® AquaGuard® zipped A-line chest pockets with rain drain / 1 YKK®AquaGuard® zipped large Napoleon pocket with rain drains / full venting YKK® AquaGuard® Escape Artist™ pit zips / anti-snag Velcro adjustable cuffs / hem drawcord with cord retainers / Reflective trim
Full Review Below
Rab Firewall Jacket - The Tech
Originally we were intending to review Rab's Latok Alpine eVent jacket, but Rab had run out of stock, so we got to try the Firewall instead. So what's the difference? Most obviously, rather than eVent, the Firewall uses a slightly stretchy 3-layer Pertex Shield+ fabric.
'Our experience of Shield+ is that it's appreciably more breathable than the original Pertex Shield (no '+') fabric and on a par with all but the very best rival materials'
It's a completely waterproof material, unlike the brand's classic windproof fabrics, and uses a PU membrane.
There was a time when that meant second-best performance, but developments in fabric technology mean that's no longer the case.
Specifically, PU layers can now be micro-engineered to maximise breathability. And our experience of Shield+ is that it's appreciably more breathable than the original Pertex Shield (no '+') fabric and on a par with all but the very best rival materials.
It's also pleasantly soft in this version. And has a little built-in stretch, though we're not convinced it does much in practical terms. Otherwise it's all state of the art construction and components, though you do miss out on the posh, free-flowing Vislon zip that swankier Rab jackets use.
Rab Firewall Jacket - Performance
After using several Gore-Tex Pro jackets, the soft, quiet feel of the Firewall's Pertex Shield+ 3-layer material was a pleasant change. It really does have a nice feel to it helped, psychologically we reckon, by the mild stretch.
The cut is good. Sleek and athletic without great wads of unnecessary excess fabric, but still allowing easy movement and as we've come to expect from Rab, slightly longer than average sleeves works well for climbing and scrambling. There's no tendency for them to rise up anyway, but if your ape index is substantial, it's good to know.
Mostly so far, we've used the Firewall for hammering about our local Peak District hills. And we do mean hammering with short days and lots to do. The fabric's done okay for breathability, but the jacket's trump card(s) are the demon 'Escape Artist' pit-zips.
When the sweat starts to prickle on your brow and you can feel the dreaded onset of sauna shell syndrome, just unzip one of the vents and slip your entire arm out for massive cooling effect. The zips run from just above the wrist to under the arm-pit and they work superbly.
We found tucking the flapping sleeve away under a pack strap was the best way of using them, at which point you're pretty much wearing a waterproof gilet. We can't stress enough how well they work. And of course, you can always use them in a more conventional way if you choose. Genius!
Bear in mind that you will get damp doing this in proper wet conditions. Your call.
Hoods You Win
The hood works well too. Rear and front adjusters are inter-connected, but the upshot is a hood that works well with or without a helmet with good facial protection backed up by a wired peak. The adjuster cords are quite thin and the first time we used them, the front ones displayed a tough of 'never-ending stretch' effect, but they do work. Thicker ones might be an idea though.
The Small Things
Other stuff? We've been a little spoiled by the flat, easy-to-use Cohaesive cord-grips used by Black Diamond and Berghaus and the Rab's more standard ones felt a little fiddly used with gloves by comparison.
Plus the conventional PU-coated water-resistant YKK main-zip isn't as smooth flowing as the swankier molded-tooth YKK Vislon type, but we can live with that.
Three big pockets work with packs and harness use and do the job. There's no internal pocket if you prefer one, but again it's not a deal-breaker for us at least.
Rab Firewall Jacket - Verdict
The Firewall's a cracking all-round mountain jacket at a great price. It fits brilliantly, has a slickly protective hood and while the breathability isn't quite up there with the very best fabrics in class, the genius pit-zips partly make up for that by allowing rapid and effective cooling.
'The fabric feels lovely and is pleasantly quiet in use too. No more sounding like a plastic bottle being blown down the street every time the wind gets up'
On top of that, the fabric feels lovely and is pleasantly quiet in use too, which makes a nice change.
No more sounding like a plastic bottle being blown down the street every time the wind gets up.
There are a few compromises to keep that price down, most notably on the zip front and for long term durability we'd opt for a tougher fabric like Gore-Tex Pro or the weightier eVent Rab uses for its own uncompromising Latok Jacket, but for all-round mountain use, the Firewall's hard to beat at the price.
In short: great jacket, great value.