Rab Vapour-Rise Summit Jacket | Review - Outdoors Magic

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Down and Insulated Jackets

Rab Vapour-Rise Summit Jacket | Review

Part of Rab’s much-loved Vapour-Rise range, the Summit is a wind-resistant softshell that makes a great ‘put it on, leave it on’ layer for winter mountain day

The Vapour-Rise (VR) system has been a mainstay of the Rab range since the 1990s. Developed by brand founder Rab Carrington as the ‘ultimate all-in-one mountain system’, it is essentially a two-layer design consisting of a lightweight, wind and water-resistant Pertex outer combined with a fast-wicking liner. Today, Rab’s VR line-up consists of various different jackets and trousers, including a couple (the Cinder and Ridgeline respectively) designed with mountain biking and trail running in mind. There’s also the lightweight Alpine Light jacket.

However, as we approach the colder months, the Vapour-Rise Summit is the pick of the bunch. It’s the warmest option for all-round hill and mountain use. It’s a wind-resistant softshell and it works very well. In fact, when worn over a baselayer, you can basically leave your fleece and windproof at home, since this does the job of both. Stash a waterproof shell and your favourite down or synthetic puffy in your rucksack and you’re set for pretty much any weather you might encounter.


As we said up top, the foundation of the Vapour-Rise system is its two-layer construction. A lightweight, wind and water-resistant shell keeps out most of the nasty, while a fast-wicking liner keeps you warm, dry and comfortable.

OM editor Will testing the Vapour-Rise in Scotland. Will is 5 foot 10 and is wearing a medium jacket, his usual size. Photos: Dave Macfarlane

That outer shell is actually a 20D Pertex Quantum Air nylon fabric, finished with a fluorocarbon-free durable water-repellent (DWR) coating. If you want the tech specs, it’s a 47gsm fabric weight with an air permeability rating of 2 cfm. That means it’s very light, yet fairly wind-resistant whilst still allowing some permeability and breathability to help regulate moisture and temperature.

That DWR finish is able to deal with on-off drizzle and general dreich, though it’s no substitute for a proper waterproof in persistent rain. Use this jacket in the same way as you would a regular softshell layer.

The inner lining is Rab’s own VR Warm fabric, a brushed and fast-wicking mesh that provides light insulation and softness.


The regular fit is relatively roomy, though there’s a hem drawcord to cinch it in, with dual adjustment at either side, plus a simple but fairly effective helmet-compatible hood with drawcord adjustment and a stiffened peak. Velcro cuff tabs create a secure, weatherproof seal around the wrists.

There are also twin zipped hand pockets, with YKK zippers. These are placed nice and high so as not to interfere with a climbing harness or a rucksack hipbelt. You also get a single front YKK-zipped napoleon chest pocket.

Other features include a lightweight 2-way YKK VISLON centre front zip, with a fleece lined chin guard. That’s about it – all of which means that impressively, this softshell weighs just 350g in a men’s medium. That’s down to the lightweight fabrics used, including that Pertex Quantum Air nylon shell. In conjunction with the VR warm wicking liner, it means this jacket feels light and airy, yet staves off windchill effectively. Good airflow and breathability keeps you cool, dry and comfortable across a broad temperature range.

The only disadvantage is that it lacks the stretch of other softshells and feels fairly delicate, so this isn’t a jacket built to take too much punishment. Still, as a ‘put it on, leave it on’ layer that fends off the wind and provides a little insulation, we can certainly see why the Vapour-Rrise system has its devotees.

Rab Vapour-Rise Summit Jacket

Selected for the Outdoor 100 Winter 23/24
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