Rab Cirrus Flex Jacket
This lightweight synthetic duvet is a versatile insulating layer that's well suited to the UK's damp climate, says Charlie Low
Finisterre are a new and up and coming clothing company. Based in Cornwall, with roots in the surfing community, they have an innovative line-up of practical and cool clothing with an emphasis on sustainable, ethical principles with regard to how they do business.
Two items which really seem to stand out for the climber are from their popular range of jackets. The first is a waterproof shell: Storm Track, the other being a lightweight belay jacket called the Etobicoke.
The Storm Track is a cool jacket with a simple understated design. For 2010 Finisterre has moved away from Nikwax fabric in favour their own system which has been in development for the last two years. This consists of a recycled rip-stop polyester wind-shell outer and biomimetic nappa lining on the inside.
There is no denying that it is a bit warmer to wear than a traditional waterproof shell made from Goretex or Event, but that is partly due to the efficiency of the jacket. You just don't get any chilly condensation inside it. This jacket even keeps working for quite a while before it needs reproofing, which incidentally is very easy to do, just by using a wash-in proofer like 'TX Direct'. And since there is no coating or membrane to fail, its life is pretty much indefinite, you can even stitch it up if it tears. Having used a whole range of different shell jackets I can confidently say that this is unique. I would treat this as a sort of cross between a waterproof 'hardshell' and a softshell. It is extremely durable soft and comfortable, you really can live in it.
The Storm Track is perfect for chilly days in the hills and mountains. I wore this in the Alps last year in both winter and summer and found it to be ideal. In summer, wearing only a thin layer underneath, in winter, with a high lofting fleece pullover. In both cases it was easy to move about in and cut out the bulk of too many extra layers. It had just enough warmth to eliminate the chilly breeze, but when the sun came out and the activity picked up, I didn't overheat – perfect.
Colours: Raven, Camo Green
Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL
The Etobicoke is a super light warm layer with a bit of old school cool. It is a really simple layer, basic lycra bound pockets and a roomy but not excessively billowy cut. The Etobicoke is really easy to throw on over everything else you're wearing. I have found it perfect for chilly belays, for days out on the boulders and at the end of long Alpine day, as the sun and the mercury drops. The synthetic insulation is good quality and lasts well but is still surprisingly soft. I have found that it survives getting soaked pretty well too, drying quickly and remaining warm throughout. On top of it all, it compresses into its own pocket making a space-saving tiny bundle that doubles as a pillow, not as small as a down jacket of similar warmth, but close enough, especially since it copes so well with wetter conditions. It's also nice to see a jacket from a new home grown brand which is all about practicality and performance as well as a bit of cool styling.
Colours: Raven, Olympian Blue
Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL
Finisterre also produce an interesting looking range of merino base layers and super plush hoodies. All this plus the fact that Finisterre are committed to their pro-environmental credentials makes me think they're onto a real winner.