Rab's Best Summer 2015 Gear
We recently popped over to Rab HQ in - for once - sunny Alfreton for a quick refresher on what's new this summer courtesy of Rab press supremo, Emma, and there was a fair bit to look at ranging from a new lightweight eVent summer waterproof shell - the Muztag through to a new, hybrid take on the excellent Vapour-rise Lite fabric in the form of the Vapour-rise Flex jacket. Here's a quick run-down of the most interesting stuff.
Mustag Jacket - £200
The Muztag - that's it up there in the main pic top - is not just a summer weight waterproof mountain jacket designed for both climbing and walking use, it uses the new eVent DV Storm fabric that's approximately 20% more breathable than previous versions of the fabric.
Apparently that's because the membrane is microscopically thinner which means it has an MVTR figure of around 40,000. That's still less breathable than Polartec NeoShell, but right up there with anything else you can buy. How light? Think around 340g for the men's large and 285g for a women's size 12.
If you see it as a lighter Latok Alpine you won't go far wrong. It has a full helmet hood with wired, mouldable peak, high-slung hand-warmer pockets that should clear a harness or pack belt and a water-resistant YKK zip. It's 'regular fit' so you should be able to fit a mid-layer top inside without things stretching and popping… and it's available in both men's a women's versions.
Thoughts: packable and light enough for summer use, but should breathe well enough to allow some serious hammer.
Spark Pull-On - £130
The new Spark Pull-On had gone for a walk from the Rab showroom, but it's the lighter, more minimalist little brother of the existing lightweight Spark Jacket. It uses Pertex Shield+ 2.5-layer fabric - the inner layer is a protective print to save weight and bulk - which is also breathable enough for most use.
Aimed at fast and lighters, marathon racers and the like, it has a helmet hood, a single pouch pocket with a YKK Aquaguard zip and, like the Muztag is touted as having a regular rather than a slim fit to allow layering. We're not sure about that, we generally prefer a slimmer fit for fast-moving stuff especially as the fabric has some built-in stretch, but your mileage may obviously vary. There's no women's version of the pull-on thought there is a women's Spark Jacket.
Thoughts: not as light and tiny as some, but looser fit and longer length make it more functional we suspect.
Charge Jacket - £150
Also made from Pertex Shield+ is the new Charge Jacket in men's and women's versions. It's aimed at walkers rather than climbers, so the pockets sit a little lower and it has a close-fitting, non-helmet hood. The fabric has a nice, soft, slightly stretchy feel to it.
It's still decently light however with a men's large weighing a claimed 354g and a women's size 12 just 303g. Despite it being a lighter weight shell, it's cut with Rab's 'regular' fit to allow you to layer clothing underneath if needed. If you're after a similar Rab shell but with a climbing helmet compatible hood, check out the Spark Jacket which is slightly lighter too.
Thoughts: If you don't need a helmet hood, the Charge makes a lot of sense as a walking shell.
Not Forgetting The Flashpoint...
Finally, although it's not featured here, the Rab Flashpoint Jacket weighs just 177g in a medium, is super breathable and comes complete with a helmet hood and a single chest pocket. It's the lightest full waterproof in Rab's range and has a price-tag of £200. We're impressed.
Vapour-rise Flex Jacket - £100
We're big fans of Rab's Vapour-rise collection and the lightweight Vapour-rise Light kit in particular. It gives a good mix of weather protection and top-notch wicking, drying and breathability. The new Vapour-rise Flex Jacket - there's also a Pull-on version - uses the Lite version of the fabric, but adds in stretchy, Matrix soft-shell side panels to give a closer fit.
It's designed for use in milder conditions, has no hood and can, says Rab, be worn either over a thin baselayer or next to skin. The outer Pertex Equilibrium outer fabric sacrifices a little wind-proofing for added breathability, but that makes it ideal for folk who move fast and run hot.
It's respectably light too, just 260g and 210g in men's and women's versions respectively. The women's edition features a stealthily hidden-away pocket for smoother looks, but both men's and women's are cut slim and sleek and we like the colour contrast main-zips too.
Thoughts: Looks like it could be an ace all-round 3-season mountain sort of shell.
Torque Jacket - £130
The Torque jacket looks properly brilliant. It's a lightweight - 520g - technical softshell with reinforced forearms and hood panels and aimed squarely at climbers and mountaineers. The fabric is a stretchy, non-membrane, DWS (Double Weave Stretch).
The helmet hood has stealth, concealed cords, there are two, Napoleon-style, harness-friendly chest pockets and the jacket has what Rab calls 'a relaxed fit' so you can layer cosy warm things underneath. We really like non-membrane soft shells, great in most conditions short of sustained rain and good and breathable with it.
Unfortunately there's no women's version of the Torque, but in the past Rab has often introduced female-specific takes on popular men's models a year later, so watch this space.
Thoughts: Looks great for climbing, mountaineering and indeed, all-round, general mountain use. And looks great full stop.
Sawtooth Hoodie - £120
Rab has a Sawtooth Jacket in its range a couple of years back, the revived Hoodie version is, like it sounds, a similar DWS Matrix soft shell jacket with a hood on it… It's a little heavier than the Torque, but otherwise pretty similar with a helmet hood, two big A-line chest pockets and stretchy, weather-resistant, non-membrane fabric.
Cut again is relaxed enough to allow under-layering. Compared to the Torque, it lacks the slightly showy reinforcements has conventional hand-warmer rather than Napoleon pockets and an additional single chest one and there's also a women's version.
As with the Torque there are matching pans also and as with the Torque, they are similarly non showy.
Thoughts: Choose your pocket configuration we reckon if you're picking between this and the Torque jacket.
Ventus Jacket - £65
If you remember the original Rab Boreas Pull-on, the Ventus will be familiar. It's a lightweight soft shell jacket along similar lines to the Boreas complete with a hood. It's not mega light at around 350g and its a men's-only piece, but it has a little more to it than the Boreas like an adjustable hem and hand-pockets.
Plus original Boreas odour sufferers will be pleased to learn that the Ventus - and the latest Boreas - uses a silver-based Polygiene anti-pong permanent treatment to reduce the suffering of your close friends by inhibiting bacterial action. Hurrah! The Boreas is great for fast stuff in warm conditions and we suspect this'll be a similar beastie.
Thoughts: We love the Boreas, this is the same, but with a zip. There's also a hoodless Ventus Pull-on option.
Windveil Jacket / Pull-on: £75/£70
Think of the Windveil as a 'not quite windproof' and you won't go far wrong. It uses Pertex Microlight fabric with a super DWR water repellent treatment that's claimed to survive washing to the extent that after 100 wash cycles it retains 80% of its water repellency, you'll need to use pure soap or a technical wash mind...
The pay off for it being not quite windproof is that it's appreciably more breathable than many pure wind shirts. You get a choice between the more featured jacket with full-zip and hood and the simpler pull-on which has no hood and a venting zip complete with an upper popper to stop gaping when its in open mode.
Weights are 165g and 120g respectively, so not super lightweight, but not overly heavy either, plus Rab tends to cut its windshells slightly longer and more practically than many of the ultra-lightweight brands. Men only this year we're afraid. Sorry girls.
Thoughts: Virtually all the wind protection but with greater breathability. If that sounds like what you need...
Full details of the current Rab range at rab.equipment/uk/