There’s nothing like a tailwind for that exhilarating feeling that you’re faster and more powerful than you really are. Somehow you’ve lost weight, your legs are pistons and you’re close to flying.
Sadly, our topic today is the evil twin brother: the nasty, insufferable headwind. It drains your spirit and energy and motivation. This is where the Sugoi Firewall Zip 220 comes to the rescue.
The Firewall ($180) has become our go-to wind jacket this season for a number of reasons: weight, style points, fit and performance.
Wind jacket weight is tricky because there’s a fine balance between too thin (you’re cold) and too thick (you’re boiling). The Firewall is mid weight and wide application. On high wind days we’ve added a vest or Icebreaker wool base layer and we’re in the zone — neither over-heated or chilled. On less windy days, the Firewall takes the full workload without complaint.
The collar is high enough to give you a full seal on the neck and the sleeves taper down to the cuff. The two front zip pockets have welded seams to keep wind out. The panels under the arms and down the sides give an extra stretch and breathability. What’s also nice is that the waist cords for tightening down the jacket are routed in through the pockets — a nice style touch that gives the Firewall a cleaner, more styled look.
Measuring wind protection is subjective and heavy on personal perception. We own three wind jackets and the other two are now in storage. We think the Firewall is good at minimizing wind penetration while keeping your thermoregulation in the comfort range. We’ve noticed that on windy days, we start with the Firewall as the given, then layer accordingly.
On a final climate note, the Firewall isn’t a Rainwall but it will handle light precipitation. (If rain is in the forecast, our solution would be to mix in the Hincapie rain vest.)
The MidZero stretch fabric gives you the full motion control. There’s no “grab” in the jacket when you make a move on the bike. Fabrics on technical gear can sometimes be brittle or too shiny or plasticy. The Firewall soft-shell is exactly that — smooth and soft == and inside, the honey-comb fabric does a nice job of pulling the sweat off your base layer or jersey.
This might qualify as wind-driven fashion. The overall lines of the Firewall 220 are trim and athletic with an absence of mismatched fabrics and loud graphics. Reflective elements are integrated into the natural lines of the sleeve and back panel. In our color choice, the red Firewall is accented by the black front pocket seams and zipper garage. On the inside, the white and grey check pattern is a nice visual contrast with the outside red. A clean, aerodynamic package.
Pockets and pockets
We like the fitted design of front pockets versus pockets in back but that may bother some folks. This means you have to go with a three pocket jersey underneath if you’re carrying tools and food. (There are also two open pockets on the inside.) Thing is, we often prefer a light base layer underneath. That means the mini pump goes in the front pocket and when we’re in the drops, we occasionally feel that bunch up. We don’t mind the trade-off because the Firewall looks so good and performs so well.
Verdict: The Firewall 220 is a super versatile, well-designed and stylish wind jacket. If the lack of rear pockets isn’t an issue, then you’re ready for any headwind.