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Sugoi's Firewall 220 Zip water and wind resistant softshell is a great fitting piece of clothing that works well the in the saddle and is ideal for other sports too.
The jacket is created using a mixture of Sugoi's Firewall 220 and MidZero fabrics. To try and create the holy grail of weather protection and breathability the Firewall 220 material is used on the jacket front, upper back and shoulders.
A triple layer laminate, the outer layer repels rain and road spray thanks to a water resistant coating, a mid layer works with the outer to keep the wind from passing through while the mesh inner layer is designed to wick the heat out and keeping you dry by spreading the moisture out over a larger surface area.
The lower back and underarm areas use the MidZero stuff, a lycra material that is also found in Sugio's winter range of bibtights etc. It's brushed inside, creating a fleecy style material meaning you're warm, while the stretchy nature gives the jacket the perfect fit when you're in the saddle.
Functionality, well in terms of pockets it doesn't follow true cycling style here as there aren't any on the rear for stowing your tubes and mid ride munchies. On Sugoi's website you will find the Firewall 220 in both the cycling and running ranges so this is obviously one of the trade-offs. There are two zipped pockets on the front and another two stretch pockets on the inside.
Unfortunately they are in the same position as the outer ones which does restrict the amount of weight you can carry.
The elasticated inner cuff fits snugly around your wrists so no cold breezes up your arms, plus the jacket is thin enough to fit inside the cuffs of most winter gloves. The two-inch high neck keeps draughts at bay especially with the help of a Buff or similar.
Performance-wise I was very impressed. The water resistant outer has raindrops beading and even when it penetrated the outer I remained dry on the inside for an hour or so of light rain or heavy drizzle. Heavy rain does eventually get through but no quicker than some claimed waterproofs I've used.
With the temperature around freezing, a short sleeved base layer underneath was all that was required. When things do get warm the Firewall 220's ability to breathe does mean you stay reasonably dry. If you get sweaty the soft material doesn't feel cold against your skin as you cool and while there are no venting zips the lycra underarms do carry a lot of the heat away.
The fit is good thanks to the soft nature of the Firewall 220 material and the stretchiness of the MidZero lycra meaning the jacket feels more like a long sleeve jersey. Both these materials allow an athletic cut without being restrictive. The ergonomically shaped arms means there is no bunching of materials around the elbows either and a slightly dropped tail does give your rear end some protection against the elements.
Minimal Scotchlite detailing gives a degree of visibility when riding in the dark, by way of piping round the arms and some various shapes on the back but don't rely on it helping you to be seen, as the areas are really quite small.
At £130 RRP the Sugio is competing with the likes of Castelli, but I reckon the amount of technology and performance go a long way to justify the price. The build quality does look excellent as well so it should easily see many seasons' worth of work.
Overall as a full on cycling jacket the Sugoi's ability is slightly restricted by the pocket issue. You could wear a jersey underneath to carry your ride essentials but that does limit access. That is the only real downside though; performance is really good both in terms of water resistance and breathability.
Excellent performance but the lack of pockets bugged our tester.
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Make and model: Sugoi Firewall 220 Zip jacket
Size tested: Medium, Gunmetal
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
"Powerful frontal thermal and windproof protection with stretch thermal back for conforming fit" is the limited description given by Sugio. It's a good general purpose jacket for a multitude of sports
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
different panels using different fabrics to allow for fit or performance.
The construction looks and feels very good indeed.
Very impressive wet weather performance for a non waterproof garment.
Shouldn't see any problems here.
Not bulky at all but feels heavier than some waterproofs.
Little things like the Lycra back and articulated elbows means it fits close.
Expensive but justified.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well, breathable and highly water resistant.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The fit and feel of the fabric.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The clash of the high viz zip with the colour of the jacket and the lack of rear pockets.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Age: 34 Height: 180cm Weight: 78kg
I usually ride: Genesis Flyer My best bike is: Ribble Gran Fondo
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!