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Softshell Jackets

Rab Exodus Jacket | Review

Very breathable, tough, decent-wicking, well-cut and protective non-membrane soft shell mountain jacket with excellent helmet-compatible hood for fast movers who tend to run hot.

New for winter 2010, the Exodus is that rare beast, a full-on, technical mountain soft shell with a helmet-compatible hood, that’s not made from a membrane-based fabric, so it offers superior breathability and wicking performance. In other words, it should be ideal for fast movers like ski mountaineers and hot-running climbers and alpinists.

Technical Lowdown

It’s all about the fabric. Rab did a lot of research before plumping for the medium-weight, stretch, double weave, combination polyester and polyamide material, it uses polyester on the inside for wicking performance and polyamide (Nylon) on the outer for durability and weather protection.

It has a DWR to shrug off light rain and, most importantly, snow and is pretty wind resistant too, though not completely wind proof, but the critical point to remember is that the fabric means it’s more breathable than membrane-based soft shells.

Performance

Apparently the Exodus is aimed primarily at the North American ski mountaineering market, which puts a premium on breathability as ski mountaineers are often working hard, but of course, it’s equally applicable to European mountains and we used it a fair bit during the recent cold snap.

Cut is classic Rab, fitted body and long, non-lifting sleeves – arguably too long for us, but not the end of the world – and the fabric feels tough and has a little stretch to it, though less than something like a Haglöfs Viper or Lizard.

It’s unlined, so has no significant insulation value – works well layered over a PowerStretch hoodie in really cold conditions – and for our money, as hot-running, fastish-moving folk, it’s an ideal compromise between breathability and protecion in dry or snowy cold conditions, though the DWR will cope with light rain too.

If you do start to overheat, sleeves are rollable, there are pit-zips and you can – of course – un-zip the main opening for cooling too.

Where it differs from most similar soft shell tops is that it has a proper, helmet-compatible hood. It’s here that the stretch element of the fabric really pays off with excellent head mobility even when fully hunkered down. It also works well without a lid and the wired and stiffened peak copes just fine with UK winter conditions.

What else? Hems, cuffs, necks and so on are all adjustable, there are two big, harness-friendly chest come hand-warmer pockets and a ski-pass pocket on the left-hand sleeve and the inside of the fabric feels pleasant over bare fore-arms, which isn’t really the case.

Verdict

A full-on mountain shell that offers a little less protection than a hard shell or membrane-based soft shell jackets, but pays that back in spades with significantly better breathability and wicking properties. Ideal if you move fast and run hot in cold, dry, snowy environments, but also capable of dealing with a bit of light rain if necessary – be prepared to carry a lightweight waterproof as well though. And at £100, we reckon it’s a bit of a bargain.

Pros

Breathability, wicking, full set of mountain features including excellent wired, helmet-compatible hood and an overall great balance between protection and comfort. Good fit. Good price.

Cons

Not as effective in wetter conditions as a typical membrane-type soft shell, hood adjuster cords a tad long and untethered when used without a helmet. Sleeves very long in classic Rab fashion.

Overall score: 4.67

Performance:

4.5

Reliability:

4.5

Value:

5.0

Full Specs

Durable mid-weight stretch woven soft shell
• Weather resistant DWR finish
• Adjustable hood with wired peak and roll down closure
• One-way YKK front zip with internal storm flap and chin guard
• Two A-line YKK zipped pockets
• One small YKK zipped security pocket on sleeve
• Articulated sleeves
• Velcro-adjustable cuff tabs
• Double exit hem drawcord

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