Model: Firewall Rain Jacket and Pants
This shell’s long hem and sleeves protected beanpole testers from the elements: “The length kept me dry when I was crawling under thick brush or bending over in the rain to collect study samples,” says one Olympic National Forest biologist. And the pants worked well for our 6’4″ tester. “Usually if rain pants fit me length-wise, they’re too baggy, but not these,” he says. The jacket’s athletic cut accommodates several layers.
The rollaway, helmet-compatible hood shielded against driving rain, and we could mold the brim. The brushed tricot collar felt comfortable against the chin when the shell was fully zipped. You also get three huge pockets that easily swallow snacks, field notebooks, smartphones, and gloves. Downside: The pockets come down so low that they fall beneath hipbelts.
The combo of Shield Plus membrane (Pertex’s lightest three-layer version of the tech yet) and ample venting delivered very good breathability. Long (18-inch) pit zips and pant side zips extending from ankle to inseam allowed for generous airflow. “The pants are even light enough for trail running,” one tester says.
The Firewall kept testers dry through a season of deluges. But the DWR wore off sooner than expected, causing the shoulders and sleeves to wet out (but not leak) during a four-hour storm.
The 40-denier nylon face fabric let us wade through salmonberry brush on the Olympic Peninsula. “Even thorns didn’t tear the material,” a tester says.