We've just received a new for autumn 2011 Rab Baseline Hoodie, a sort of half-baselayer / half-fleece top made from Polartec's rapid-wicking PowerDry High Efficiency stretch fabric.
Regular OM readers might recall that we had some proper fit issues with the new Rab AL Pull-On, which it turns out, were due to a mismatch in stretchiness between the fabric used for design protypes and the final garment material. In other words, the material used for the AL wasn't as stretchy as it was supposed to be meaning that it was less accommodating, particularly for folk with wider shoulders.
Which would be us then... To their credit, Rab has actually invited us to get involved in fit testing for their pull-ons in the future.
Anyway, the AL Pull-On is currently being used by a narrower person and we'll report back on that, but we now have a Baseline Hoodie as a replacement.
The Baseline uses a slightly weightier version of the PowerDry fabric, which means a higher overall weight of 365g for a medium, but it also seems to have more stretch to it. As a result, while the fit is still close and efficient, it's significantly less restrictive and a medium fits okay. We'd still suggest trying for size before buying though.
The fabric itself is based on Polartec's base layer PowerDry, but has a gridded, fleecy interior a bit like Thermal Pro fleece, which increases insulation efficiency while reducing weight and bulk at the same time. Think of it as a sort of half-way house between base layer and fleece and you won't go far wrong.
Like the AL, it's a versatile top that you either wear as a cold conditions, next-to-skin, heavy duty base layer or as a light, high-wicking mid-layer. Where it's different is in using a slightly heavier, slightly warmer version of the PowerDry fabric and having a few more technical features.
More Features - Hood, Thumb-loops, Pocket
The obvious one is a close-fitting hood which is designed to sit neatly under a climbing helmet or shell jacket hood, then there are thumb-loops in the cuffs to help seal the gaps between gloves and shell and finally a single small chest pocket.
It reminds us a lot of the Berghaus Smoulder hoodie, which was one of those understated garments that you found yourself using all the time and we suspect the Baseline's going to be similarly versatile over the colder months.
We can see it working as a base layer in cold conditions under a soft shell, or a lightweight, active mid-layer over a thinner baselayer tee and under a shell and as extra-warm, wilderness pajamas too. And when it's really cold, you could happily layer, say, PowerStretch, microfleece or something heavier over it for active use too. Or you could wear it as a single layer in still, verycold conditions for, say, running - it doesn't offer much wind resistance by the way.
The fabric, based on past experience, should wick and dry brilliantly, helped by the snug stretch fit and give surprising warmth too. Bring on the winter...
Also available in a women's version, the Baseline Hoodie is priced at £75.
More info at www.rab.uk.com.