I first saw the Stormr Fusion waterproof jacket when I was at the ICAST fishing trade show over in the US last summer, and I got hold of one to try out about a month before Xmas 2014 - so it's had a load of use in all kinds of UK winter conditions, both with fishing and walking my sheepdog. It's an impressive bit of kit to look at, and a lot about this Stormr Fusion waterproof jacket is very well designed for anglers. I like how it's pretty light and folds away into not too much when I tuck it into my rucksack, but it is not an uber-light shell, and it isn't meant to be. This Fusion jacket seems to "breathe" just fine, and it behaves impeccably as a waterproof outer layer - which one would expect of course.
The zips are working perfectly via saltwater use, indeed I have deliberately not washed my Fusion jacket down in freshwater after various bouts of deep wading where a fair bit of the jacket was submerged in saltwater, plus getting regularly splashed by the sea etc. No issues that I can find on that front. I like the various pockets and I even like the hood and how it can tighten down around the face. Hoods on waterproof jackets often drive me loopy, but this one is pretty good. I love that there are zips under the armpits as well. This is not a heavy thermal jacket, in that you will need to layer up underneath in cold weather, but as a specialist waterproof fishing jacket I reckon this Stormr Fusion is pretty damn good. Bear in mind it comes from the US striped bass fishing market, and at certain times of the year that is some pretty serious fishing to say the least, both fish and weather wise.
I really like it, but I don't love it. I want to love it because it's one hell of a waterproof jacket, but there are a few issues I have come across that I know could cause problems for anglers buying one, and it revolves mainly around the sizing of the Fusion. I will tell you why - I take an XL in most things. Any waterproof jackets and waders I have tried or bought over I don't know how many years have fitted me in an XL size (save for the Greys G-Series waders), indeed I have a neoprene Stormr Strykr jacket here in an XL size that fits me absolutely perfectly. Luckily I tried on a Fusion jacket in an XL size when I was at the iCast show last year, and it was too small for me. I therefore went for the XXL size in the Stormr Fusion jacket, and although it's a much better fit, a few things about the cut of the jacket leave me a little confused.
Why for example are the sleeves too short? I am pretty sure I don't have gorilla arms, and although the rubber inner sleeve is the right length and remains up around my wrists when I'm casting, the fastener part of the sleeve that goes over this inner sleeve spends most of its life riding up my forearm. If there is a technical reason for this then I apologise, but surely that upper bit of the sleeve should be plenty long enough so that you can tighten down over the top of the rubber inner sleeve without it then riding up all the time? It's not doing any harm as such, but I wonder why on the Strykr jacket for example, the arms of the jacket are plenty long enough.
That rubber inner sleeve on the Fusion does do a good job of keeping most of the water from coming in down your wrists when you are fishing (rain and splashing waves), and you could be forgiven in thinking that it looks such a good fit around your wrist that no water is ever going to get in. Well let me save you the hassle of trying this feature out. This is not a criticism by the way, because I haven't personally come across any waterproof jacket that doesn't let at least some water in via the seal around your wrists, but because of how that rubber seal looks on this Fusion jacket, I was kinda hoping that this might be "the one" - but it isn't. I stuck both forearms underwater, pretending say to hold a bass prior to release, and almost instantly a load of cold seawater came in the sleeves and up my forearms. Great with rain and splashing waves then, but not for putting your hands and forearms under the water - is this the domain of a drysuit?
This XXL Fusion is a pretty good fit on me, and whilst I like the fact that it's around a generous kind of wading jacket length down my body, in truth I feel the jacket overall could have a tiny bit more freedom in it. It's an easy jacket to cast in and move around, and those stretchy, lightweight neoprene panels seem to be doing a really good job, but overall I just feel the jacket needs a tiny bit more room - bearing in mind here that I am already wearing one size more than what I would usually wear with garments from other manufacturers. I am hardly on the slim side, but I have to compare sizings to other stuff I have worn.
I can't say much more really. I really like this jacket, indeed I nearly love it to bits. It's a very impressive bit of kit that I see Bass Lures are now starting to offer on a pre-order basis on their website (not quite sure what that means to be honest), but if you are tempted by one of these Fusion jackets, please bear in mind that I went for one size larger than I usually take. I have every confidence that my Fusion jacket is going to last me well, but I just wish that I could alter those aspects I have mentioned to make it into a fishing jacket that was as close to perfect as I have come across. Stormr make some serious gear for us anglers and I can only hope that their gear becomes more easily available here in the UK in due course.
I am flying over to Dublin later on today for the Ireland Angling Show (Swords as I know it), so I hope to see a bunch of you over the weekend. It always feels a little bit weird heading over to Ireland and not going fishing, but it's always a huge buzz to spend time in my favourite country in the world. Have to say that I'm glad England v Ireland is next weekend, because I was at a fishing show once over there when that particular Six Nations match was on, and from memory I was the only English person in the bar, and we lost as well. Talk about copping some (very good natured) flak!!!! Have a good weekend all, catch up next week.
21.02.2015 addition - Stormr have emailed me from the US to tell me that the Fusion jacket I have is older stock, and that these older versions were indeed on the small size - they have told me that all new Fusion jackets are now "properly" sized. Stormr says that Fusion jackets are now in line with their Strykr jackets as regards sizing, so this means that an XL should fit me just fine.