As a gear tester, I have specific criteria for waterproof jackets and the Rab Firewall ticks all the important boxes. Comfort and fit are top priorities, and the Firewall delivers. Things like coverage over the wrists and at the hem are very important, as well as freedom of movement within the jacket, and of course how it looks on.
Rab’s Firewall jacket appears to be a perfect fit for me. I'm pretty slim and tall and wear a medium. At the wrists, the jacket is tapered to provide extra coverage over the tops of the hands, which is most welcome when it's pouring down, as this the rain off your mid-layer underneath. The Velcro adjusters allow you to make the wrist opening bigger or smaller depending on comfort and of course fit over or under gloves. The hem of the jacket is a good length, blending aesthetics with practicality. It extends below the waist at the front, and the hem is dropped at the back to cover right over the bum. This means that when you're leaning down or riding a bike the jacket doesn't ride up over your trousers. The drawstring adjusters at the hem are beautifully made, with a tug on each side it cinches in to provide extra protection against the wind.
The two hand pockets are raised up the torso, which gives clearance for backpack hip belts. The chest pocket is OS map compatible, if you still like to navigate the old school way, and all the zips have a waterproof coating to keep moisture out. The helmet-compatible hood and soft-backed chin offer excellent protection over the head and face, with a wired peak channeling water away from the face and a hood adjuster to pull the hood in tight over the head. This allows the hood to follow your head when you turn, rather than stay in place and thus getting in the way of peripheral vision.
The main material of the Firewall is a bit crinkly, just like most waterproof jackets. It's a three-layer construction with fully taped seams, this is the most durable type of construction for waterproof jackets, and although it’s probably the most expensive it should last for years.
The 30D Pertex shield fabric provides a good balance between thickness and therefore added durability against abrasion and snags, and is reasonably lightweight. The Firewall feels lightweight not just in overall weight but in the feeling when you're wearing the jacket. This is also helped by the excellent articulation and general fit of the Firewall jacket which makes it feel unnoticeable when worn.
The specs of the Pertex Shield 3-layer waterproof fabric are excellent, with 20,000mm waterproofing and 20,000g/m2/24hrs breathability. These are both above average and you feel that when you're out walking in difficult weather; rainy with mild temperatures. In these climates, you want to wear a waterproof jacket as you walk, but the mild temperatures make you sweaty and clammy inside. This is where a highly breathable waterproof jacket comes into its own. The large two-way pit zips are great in this situation, allowing you to keep walking while continuously venting excess heat. The main zip is 2-way as well, so there's the option to vent from the bottom of your jacket. An additional popper at the bottom of the zip ensures that the zip does not inadvertently open when you don’t want it to.
Overall, the Firewall jacket from Rab feels like it was made for us. It ticks all of the right boxes for a durable, practical, dependable, and good-looking waterproof jacket for hiking, cycling, and day-to-day use. It may not be ultralight at 478g, but it's a reasonable weight for its specs and ideal for day hikes.
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