Lake District scrambles & Rab Flashpoint jacket review
British summer is finally here, and with my ultra trail race entries in, now’s the time to up the mileage and get my head back in the game for some of the more technical routes. Trail races usually involve a compulsory kit list, including everything I’d normally carry for a long day out, and with maps, compass, food, water and layers the weight can really add up. It’s one of my biggest considerations when choosing new gear, so when the team at Rab asked if I’d like to review the super lightweight Flashpoint 2 waterproof jacket my answer was a definite yes please! The most serious race I've entered is the Glencoe Skyline which will involve scrambling as well as running, so to start my preparation I spent two days in the Lake District exploring some classic scrambles.
We decided to take a circular route around Stickle Tarn taking in Stickle Ghyll, Pavey Ark, and Harrison Stickle. Although the morning was warm and sunny, the forecast was possible rain and even thunder in the afternoon, so the Flashpoint jacket was the ideal waterproof to take. I’ve been using it for a few months now, and for me the defining feature is that at 165g (5.8oz) it’s unbelievably light and packs down to a tiny size. When I’m on the move I can get a bit lazy about putting extra layers on. I don’t want to stop to take my bag off my back and dig around, so I like that the Flashpoint comes with a stuffsack that can be clipped onto a harness or the outside of a backpack.
There’s often a compromise with very lightweight gear, whether that’s reducing features or durability, so it’s worth noting that the Flashpoint is a ‘proper’ waterproof, meeting the technical kit requirements for fell and mountain races. I recently used in it the Cami de Cavalls multi day trail race on the island of Menorca. On day one and two I never even noticed it was in my pack. On day three I wore it for the whole 38km stage, running through torrential rain and floods. After that experience I appreciate the extra protection from features like the adjustable hood, which stays in place during windy weather, and adjustable velcro cuffs to help stop cold air or rain running up the sleeves.
The warm Lake District sun was a treat, but after a roped section on Stickle Ghyll (I didn’t feel confident to solo in running shoes) and a fun scramble up Jacks Rake - no rope required! - we reached the summit of Pavey Ark where the skies began to look more threatening. The Flashpoint is made for these situations, because it’s so easily accessible you can throw it on while you ascend into cloud or when rain blows in, and pack it away on the move. It’s designed with climbers in mind, so the fit suits broader shoulders and arms. I’m tall with long limbs, and can sometimes struggle to find clothes that fit well, but the jacket is long enough in the sleeves and body to keep me properly covered and dry.
I would want a more sturdy waterproof for winter mountain running, but for the rest of the year the Flashpoint jacket absolutely maximises the technical spec while minimising weight and packsize. In wet or changeable weather when you want to stay dry but keep the weight you’re carrying as low as possible, it does exactly the job you need it to.