Rab Fusion Alpine Pants - First Look

Part waterproof and part softshell, we put Rab's trews to the UK winter test.

Posted: 14 February 2007
by Jon

Rab Fusion Alpine Pants- First Look

Price: £120

Weight: 516 grammes (medium)

Features: Softshell pant using a mix of waterproof eVENT fabric on seat and knees plus Teklite Stretch softshell wind resistant fabric elsewhere, two handwarmer pockets, one security pocket, mesh-backed thigh vents, belt loops and elasticated waist, brace attachment points, zip-fly, adjustable ankle cuffs, reinforced crampon patches. Reinforced knees

What's It For? There's a bit of a clue in the name, these are primarily designed as all-day legwear for use in alpine environments where snow and wind is the enemy rather than the wet and damp of the UK, however we also found that they made good UK winter condition pants.

The idea is that the softshell area is wind and water resistant, while the waterproof eVENT sections will keep seat and knees dry if you have to kneel or sit on snow or damp ground, while belaying for example and you get better overally breathability than with a garment made entirely from a waterproof fabric.

The Techy Bits The fabric's what it's all about here. The waterproof eVENT material is the most breathable conventional waterproof fabric we've used, but it still won't be as breathable as the very wind resistant Teklite Stretch areas of the garment.
How It Works We've been using the Fusions mostly as UK winter pants on colder days. Mostly we've been wearing them over a lightweight baselayer, that's partly for a little added insulation and partly because while the eVENT fabric in the seat area has a soft inner surface, the stuff on the lower legs is pure waterproof fabric and we didn't really like the feel against bare skin. We've also used them as an overtrouser in snowy conditions, layering over a thin softshell or Powerstretch pant.

Mostly they've worked very well. The trouser shrugs off snow easily and a decent water repellant finish also copes well with light to medium rain. Breathability's very good too helped by the zipped thigh vents and ankle zips.

When wearing them as overtrews, we did notice condensation on the waterproof sections a couple of times when the rest of the pant was dry inside, which emphasises the difference in breathability between the two fabrics.

We really appreciated the wateproof bits when sitting on wet ground and wading through deep snow, when we suspect damp would have soaked through a pure softshell pant.

Fit was slightly loose for a nominal medium, so try carefully before buying, and we had no mobility issues even when stepping up high on scrambles. We'd have preferred a Velcro-fastened ankle cuff rather than the press studs fitted to allow a more adjustable closure and arguably the use of a softer-backed fabric in the lower eVENT area would have made wear without a baselayer more comfortable.

Initial Verdict

If you think of the Fusions as being halfway between a normal mountain pant and a shell layer you won't go far wrong. They're fantastic in winter conditions where they shrug off snow and give decent wind protection with very good breathability.

They also cope with light to medium rain for short periods thanks to the DWR and worked very well as a UK winter mountain pant on days that were less than torrentially wet and would make a good Scottish winter mountaineering option.

They're not warm, but layering them over a baselayer works well and allows you to vary insulation levels according to taste. There's a matching jacket too, but we reckon that makes more sense as a pure alpine piece, the pants however proved to be surprisingly versatile.

Rab web site

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Discuss this story

Pant? Isn't that what dogs do? What's wrong with good, grammatical English? They are either trousers (not 'trouser' as seems to be creeping in to outdoor gear reviews on-line & in magazines) or if we must use the US vernacular, pants (with an 's' on the end). [/pedanticrant]

And can't manufacturers make trousers in any colour other than black?

Posted: 14/02/2007 at 20:04

people complain that paramo don't.

Posted: 14/02/2007 at 21:04

It's all Henry Ford's fault.

Posted: 14/02/2007 at 21:10

Talkback: Rab Fusion Alpine Pants - First Look

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