Clawgear Rapax Softshell

Just after hitting the market, softshell clothing immediately became well-recognized among users: minimum weight, excellent breathability, and rather good resistance to wind and rain. So the Clawgear introduced a lightweight softshell jacket called Rapax. Let’s have a closer look and check whether it is worth your money.

Clawgear is an Austrian brand offering of a wide variety of tactical clothing . We have mentioned their products many times so far, e.g. Defiant Flex and Enforcer Flex pants. Rapax, the jacket featured in this article, is a basic tactical softshell for urban activities. Why urban? We will refer to that in a moment.

FABRICS

Let us start this short story of Rapax with the material it was made of. Clawgear used a three-layer laminate with stretchable outer layer (97% polyester and 3% elastane), microfleece, and a PU vapor-permeable membrane compressed in-between for breathability and resistance to water. Purists will not call it a softshell – in their opinion, softshells with membranes do not meet the requirements of that category because the material should have no membrane, while the windproof and water resistance properties (to not be mistaken for waterproof properties) should be ensured thanks to proper composition and weaving.

Clawgear Rapax is available in four colors: black, olive gray (RAL7013), Solid Rock (gray), and Coyote (sand brown).

CUT

The cut of Rapax is rather far from clothing for alpine use. The lower part of such jackets is narrower and perfectly fit to the user’s body in order to ensure the best possible freedom of movement. In the case of Rapax, “box cut” would be the best description as chest and the bottom are of almost identical width. What are the advantages of such a solution? For sure, it will work perfectly in the case of additional insulating layers, carrying concealed weapon, or in the case of people suffering from “hydrops”. The back of Rapax is slightly extended, which prevents the jacket from shifting upwards when you bow or crouch.
This jacket is fastened with a one-way main zipper with wind flap underneath that protects the user against wind or damp. The zip ends with a simple stand-up collar, without a hood.

The jacket has five pockets in total:

  • two large pockets, so-called handwarmer pockets, on the chest that are fastened with zippers and have quite a universal range of applications; they can hold mobile phones or large wallets.
  • pocket on the left side of the chest with a vertical zipper.
  • internal zippered pocket, which is on the right side of chest and can be used for carrying items that we would rather keep in secret.
  • asymmetric zippered pocket on the left sleeve sized enough for a mobile phone.

The bottom of the jacket features an adjustable drawcord – plastic barrel-locks in the inside are to prevent the elastic drawcord from protruding, so that the jacket will not get caught by surrounding objects.

The sleeves were sewn in a clever way – the are no seams on the armpits, so there will be no unpleasant feeling while wearing a backpack, while the way the sleeves were sewn in ensures great freedom of movement. The sleeve cuffs have flaps with Velcro straps to make them fit well to the user’s wrists.

Each of the sleeves has a panel of Velcro loop for patches or name tags. The top edge of each panel has two cuts that can be used as pen holders.

It should be mentioned that the color of the zippers matches the jacket, so it is harder to spot them. They are only distinguished by “garages” and flaps on each of the mechanisms, for better grip.

The lack of unnecessary gadgets and the pretty minimalist cut make Rapax a relatively light jacket that can be compresses easily. Thanks to that feature, it will take less space in our backpack.

Clawgear Rapax jackets comes in S to XXL sizes.

Shash knows it and he will tell ya all

I do not usually do that, but in the case of Clawgear Rapax I will have to express a rather negative opinion. Why is it so? There are several reasons and I will describe them one by one.

Call me a purist if you want, but I share the opinion that good softshell feature, first of all, high breathability (or vapor permeability) and provide good protection against water and wind. Of course, it will soak in case of heavy rain, but during physical exercises it will get dry thanks to the heat generated by our body. If someone wants protection against strong wind or downpour, they should use a hardshell, a solid jacket with a membrane. Softshells are to ensure that we will not sweat too much during excessive physical effort. In the case of Rapax, I was negatively surprised – the material provides resistance against light rain and wind, that is for sure. However, the offered breathability is pathetic, even if you consider it an “urban tactical jacket”. When riding a bike outside the city or when chasing a bus, the material simply did not perform well – I would sweat a lot. Someone would say it was because of my “personal features” but had no such problems with the non-membrane softshells that I have used so far. In my opinion, the material of this jacket makes it completely useless in the field. It will perform well in the less dynamic urban environment, when you have to go from your car to your office or sweat for a while at the shooting range. If you are looking for a jacket for more demanding tasks, you should look for something else – you will have to pay more but stay satisfied.

No hood is another disadvantage. What the bloody hell! Softshells are supposed to protect you against rain and wind! How can a softshell serve that purpose without the basic element, i.e. a good hood that provides protection against the evil chill?! Someone might say it is a jacket for urban activities. I will ask that person: so, what? Are cities free from rain and wind? It is a great disadvantage that you will experience once you notice the lack of the hood when it is needed. Dear Clawgear, just fix it as soon as possible.

Another thing is the cut. Box cut. It fits perfectly – a cut like a box. Like a cardboard cube. It is neither well-fitted nor it can be adjusted. I simply do not like it. All the softshells I have worn so far were always tapered downwards in order to ensure better fitting to the body. Rapax is different.

There is also another matter that makes me irritated: the asymmetric pocket on the sleeve. I prefer having two pockets, one for each sleeve, instead of having one pocket on one sleeve. Although it is possible to get used to it, I very often reached my right arm for a non-existing pocket.

To stand for the Rapax jacket, I can however admit that it is a very decent and esthetic piece of clothing, e.g. some of the seams are lined with elegant trimming that provides perfect protection for them. All the seams are simple, with no visible imperfections.

Rabbit’s opinion

I own a lot of softshell jackets, including the “orthodox” ones (without membranes) and some “hybrids” (with laminate) – they are various in types, for field activities (being a part of the uniform), “tactical”, or slightly in a civilian style. Rapax definitely distinguishes itself from what I own and – unfortunately – it does not always stand for positive features.

Let us start from the top – I do not need a hood in an URBAN softshell jacket. I must address Shash’s question here – of course, it sometimes gets windy and sometimes rains in the city. Still, it is a city! Not a taiga or a climb onto Nanga Parbat, where there is no place to hide. When you are in the city, you can just walk into a store, a cafe, stand under a roof, get onto public transport, use a car or taxi. So, mankind will survive, despite the evil chill just around the corner. Apart from that, I always wear a hat (it’s just a habit or a sign of excessive level of testosterone). When it comes to wind or rain in the city, I rather stay calm. Ergo – I do not mind the lack of hood because I treat Rapax as an urban jacket. Oh, I would have almost forgotten – whenever it got chilly, I used a hoodie that I put on my back, on the Rapax, to keep myself warm. It looks cool, keeps me warm. Whenever it gets too windy, I just put the hood on and the problem’s solved.
The cut of the jacket is pretty cool – I am not an enthusiast of jackets that fit close to your body and Rapax is similar to Arc’Teryx Alpha (which I like). The length of this Austrian softshell is perfect for urban activities, driving a car, commuting, etc. – when you get into a car, you just sit on the seat instead of sitting partially on the seat and partially on the jacket, which is irritating, and you must adjust your body position from time to time. In the case of Rapax, there is no such problem and I find it to be an advantage. As for disadvantages, I hate the way drawcords – the “partial mechanism” works only for the back or only for the front – who does come up with such ideas? I try to adjust the bottom of the jacket, I pull the elastic cord and adjust the jacket on my bottom, while the front of the jacket stays the same – seriously?

The material – it is cool, soft, elastic, it feels pleasant. It is decent when it comes to protection against wind and chilly weather. It will also perform well enough in case of low rainfall. Rapax is very light and can be compressed easily. What about breathability? I don’t know, since I do not use this jacket for any activities that would require more physical effort. The jacket is for other purposes. But it is not extremely breathable, of that I am certain. It is a jacket for urban activities. Period. If you want to use it for jogging, tourist activities other than an undemanding walk in the woods, then (surprise, surprise) you will sweat. However, it is a fantastic solution for the urban environment – people used to call such jackets “windbreakers”.

Arrangement of pockets – it is generally OK, but I have some reservation. I do not mind the asymmetric design on the chest, but I find it annoying when it comes to the sleeves. The reason why they did not sew on a pocket on the right side – for me, it is a mystery. It has no impact on the design, because the pockets are barely visible. When it comes to practical use, it makes my blood boil whenever I try to reach for the zipper on my right arm and… find nothing there.

A nice detail – the zip is sealed with a strip. Contrary to many other models, it works in this case.

Rapax ensures a cool range of movement, the cut is exceptionally convenient. I generally do not use the drawcords on the cuffs, because I do not feel like it. Especially when I wear something beneath the jacket. A word of comment here: I prefer when the drawing flaps are fastened to the back and not on the front, because I do not need to worry that I will bump against something and unfasten the flap.

I wore my Rapax on a shirt, a thin woolen sweatshirt or thicker insulation layers. Such sets, when used for standard urban activities, would work up to -3 or even -5°C. When wearing only a T-shirt, the top limit would be about 10°C, unless it is windy or there’s a drizzle.

Summing up – a well-designed URBAN softshell at a decent price, if you do not plan any excessive physical activities. In case of physical activity, it is better to invest your money in a version without membranes.

Rapax and Lotos

The professional reviewers before me probably wrote about all the disadvantages of this “windbreaker”. Rabbit reminded me of that name some time ago… a short jacket “to protect you from wind”, but also to let you look stylish. Yeah… the issue with Rapax is that it looks good but has some issues with functionality and the expectations you have when it comes to the material this gem was sewn from. In my opinion, it is a well-designed, low-budget product that ensures good esthetical experience (if you have any). Of course, you will not increase your IQ or win the hearts of all women, when wearing the jacket. However, it can be used as support during the heavy struggle, i.e. at the shooting range in the company of “super heroes” or during the manly competition on the city streets.

The jacket will pretty skillfully hide the muscle of your typical “Sunday commando”, slightly highlight the line of arms, while the length will indicate that the user is in good shape. And of course, the stylish tactical and urban color! Space Gray, Wolf, or any other similar name.
It may be the thing! For a low price, you can have a well-designed jacket and look good in it – sorry to say that, but a hood would totally ruin the whole concept! – too casual, youth-like, or even too boyish! The asymmetric pockets… well, I think we all are young enough to differentiate right side from the left… you can get used to it. As for the drawstring – I do not have the chance to deal with it (I am your typical Sunday commando) so you must trust Rabbit.

As you can see, we already have the picture of Rapax – all you need to do is refrain from tiring, running, jumping, searching for a hood, keep searching through pockets when you need to immediately pay for something… but you can keep the photograph of your sweetheart or your last buck in the fifth pocket, the one on your heart… and the jacket will serve its purpose! It will perform well when you adjust your collar while looking at the woman next to you, it will perform well during meetings at the shooting range, on the street, at a pub or a diner, or in many other places. All in all, user’s satisfaction is the key.
To be honest, I will keep using Rapax because I know about it flaws so I will not expect too much from it. I wear and use it… but maybe because I got is as a gift rather than bought it? 🙂
So, what is the final verdict on Rapax? Well, just as always – you can’t be all things to all men!

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DSEI 2017