Part waterproof and part softshell, we put Rab's trews to the UK winter test.
Rab Fusion Alpine Pants- First
Weight: 516 grammes
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
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
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
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
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