Loading Notifications...

Rab's Skyline Range for Runners Review

© Dan Bailey

Aimed primarily at mountain runners, Rab's Skyline range covers a full selection of lightweight clothing from shorts and leggings, to tops and jackets. We've looked at some key items from across the range, the Pacer (waterproof) Jacket, Skyline Tights, Momentum Shorts and the Sonic LS Tee.

Skyline range thumbnail  © Dan Bailey
Staying cool in Momentum Shorts, while not getting sunburnt in the Sonic long-sleeved t-shirt

"Skyline has been specifically designed for the mountain runner" say Rab. "Combining the latest, lightest fabrics with cutting-edge designs, we have created ultra-lightweight clothing that doesn't compromise on protection."

Pacer Jacket and Momentum Shorts on a warm but windy day in the Pentlands   © Dan Bailey
Pacer Jacket and Momentum Shorts on a warm but windy day in the Pentlands
© Dan Bailey

So how has it all fared in the slightly less mountainous setting of the Lothians on lockdown..?

Pacer Jacket - £230

This jacket definitely looks like a mountain sports shell, yet it also has the feel of something suitable for running. It is clear that Rab have specifically aimed this as being a bit of a crossover garment, and the underlying mountaineering 'DNA' is easy to see. For skyrunning type days that makes sense, but what about for more general running? I thought it would be interesting to see whether any of the compromises needed to achieve this were problematic.

The Pacer feels like a proper mountain shell  © Dan Bailey
The Pacer feels like a proper mountain shell
© Dan Bailey

I have reviewed something similar in nature to this in 2018, the Mountain Equipment Impellor, and was interested to see how they compared:

The COVID-19 lockdown has so far meant the jacket could not be reviewed in a mountain environment, however I've used it for a variety of activities and plenty of lower level running this spring and summer.

Fabric

The meat of this jacket is a 13D Gore-Tex Active fabric. Since Gore do not publish performance figures for breathability for any of their fabrics (something UKH/UKC reviewers would really like to see) it's impossible to objectively compare this with any rival fabric. However in use I've found it completely waterproof and windproof, very breathable and also light. I've got hot and clammy when working hard in warmer weather, but I don't think a shell has been invented that you can comfortably run in when things get sticky and humid - and this one's better than most.

Long term active use wearing rucksacks etc could ultimately damage more lightweight fabrics like this and that sort of longevity is beyond the scope of this test. However it is worth pointing out the ME Impellor Jacket we tested using a lighter version of Gore-Tex is still going strong after two years of mountain running, so I think there is no reason to be overly concerned about lifespan.

You're not going to get lost in the 'acid' version (a darker colour is also available)  © Dan Bailey
You're not going to get lost in the 'acid' version (a darker colour is also available)
© Dan Bailey

The fabric does not give the impression of some insubstantial, wafer-thin, ultra-light jacket best suited for keeping rolled up in the rucksack for emergencies; it feels like a jacket that can be used. There is a degree of rigidity in the fabric which is not enough to restrict movement but is enough to reduce flapping about in rough weather.

My review sample is a yellow 'Acid' colour. While this is not the vulgar 'hi-viz' dayglow colour of many cycling/running garments it is possibly a good option for those intending to use it for running and cycling, since it is still pretty visible. There are reflective logos and detail on the jacket too.

Weight

The lockdown has meant I could not access accurate scales at work to check the weight, however Rab's advertised weight is 240g. So the Pacer may not be in the sub-200g brigade of jackets like ME's Impellor but just a few extra grams results in something which feels more substantial and reassuring. There are lots of other opportunities to shave weight in your pack – I think that for general use, having a decent protective and durable jacket is worth a few extra grams.

The drop hem is good for running...  © Dave Saunders
The drop hem is good for running...
© Dave Saunders

... and cycling  © Dave Saunders
... and cycling
© Dave Saunders

Fit

I am 5'11'' and 74kg, and the medium is the perfect size. This not a jacket for piling on the layers underneath, it is fairly slim and fitted. First thing I noticed is Rab have not tried to shave off weight by making it too short. The jacket is really quite long at the back, which is great. Most people using garments like this for mountain running would not often reach for waterproof trousers until weather was really bad. This means having a longer jacket can be really useful for chafe free running in the wet. I have used this mountain biking and other cycling and having a longer cut at the back can help keep your bum dry when the weather's not.

The other similar jacket in the Skyline range (the Pertex Shield - based Charge) comes in separate men's and women's versions, with appropriately different cuts, but unfortunately the Pacer is only available in a male-oriented fit. If a more female-friendly fit is required, you will have to stick with the Charge.

I really like the hood on the Pacer  © Dave Saunders
I really like the hood on the Pacer
© Dave Saunders

Hood

The hood has a stiffened peak and a rear volume adjuster, making it look similar in nature to a mountain waterproof. However the size is not helmet compatible, instead being quite fitted, with an elasticated front opening; there is no adjustment at the front but when zipped up fully it feels secure and weatherproof. The hood, if not being used, can be tied back with a loop, which helps stop it flap about when you're running.

Phone-sized pocket  © Dave Saunders
Phone-sized pocket
© Dave Saunders

Rear hood adjuster  © Dave Saunders
Rear hood adjuster
© Dave Saunders

Features

Reduced and streamlined features can run the risk of compromising function. Cuffs are always important in a shell. Here the cuffs have no adjustment, but are partially elasticated. The user of a jacket like this would need cuffs which can easily fit over gloves and if you are a runner, a GPS watch too, which can be fairly bulky. The risk is then having a cuff which is too baggy. The size of the cuffs on the Pacer works well for me – it's all about striking a compromise and this seems very well judged.

Zip-free underarm vents  © Dan Bailey
Zip-free underarm vents
© Dan Bailey

Cuffs big enough for a chunky watch  © Dan Bailey
Cuffs big enough for a chunky watch
© Dan Bailey

There are underarm vents – these are open with no zip or means of closing them. Initially this seems quite alarming but they are small and quite well recessed and I have so far retained dry armpits. Moving fast with your arms raised while running, they allow a little air circulation. Moving slower with arms lower they would not be exposed and be mostly pressed closed. However in the windiest, wettest weather we think the addition of a zip closure would be a small weight penalty for the added reassurance it would provide.

There is a waterproof YKK Vislon zip, and also the same on the chest pocket sized for a phone. The inner face of the pocket is made of the same fabric which will help keep the contents dry from rain and also sweat. However Rab do include a warning that the contents can still get wet, so other precautions should be taken.

Finally there is an elasticated hem adjuster and this is enclosed within the hem in keeping with the neat uncluttered feel of the rest of the garment.

It packs down small into its own stuffsack (included)  © Dave Saunders
It packs down small into its own stuffsack (included)
© Dave Saunders

Summary

As a lightweight multi-use jacket the Pacer is pretty good actually. I've largely tested this in the spring but I envisage it definitely being my go-to winter running, bad weather shell. It is worth pointing out that there are other waterproof jackets in the same Skyline range. There is a lighter smock jacket (Rab Phatom, only advertised as men's) and a lower cost jacket made of Pertex (Rab Charge, men's and women's); the Charge looks very similar to the Pacer. Finally, if you do intend using this jacket for hill/mountain races you will usually need to carry waterproof trousers, and there are none included in the Skyline range as an obvious partner garment so you'll need to look elsewhere to mix and match.

Rab say:

The Pacer Jacket offers a striking combination of advanced comfort, optimised breathability and minimal weight. Its three-layer waterproof construction uses GORE-TEX's highly breathable 13D Active nylon face, alongside an open underarm design, for first-class flexibility and ventilation. An extended lower back preserves coverage and extended cuffs provide welcome hand protection on exposed foul-weather runs. A pared back features list helps keep the weight down to just 240g, while the semi-elasticated hood with a stiffened peak, rear adjustable toggle and roll-down tab keeps the elements at bay and the view clear, however hard you push.

When you want waterproof protection without weight for exposed mountain runs, our highly breathable three-layer Pacer Jacket is designed to perform.

  • Sizes: S-XL (men)
  • Weight: 240g
  • Fixed hood with roll down tab
  • Semi-elasticated hood with stiffened peak and rear volume adjustment
  • 13D GORE-TEX® ACTIVE waterproof technology
  • YKK® VISLON® AquaGuard® front zip
  • Open underarm ventilation
  • Fully adjustable hem
  • Clean finish elasticated cuff construction
  • Reflective branding
  • Stuff sack included
  • Fit: Slim

For more info see rab.equipment

Skyline Tights - £70

If you want a pair of tights to withstand wear and tear in a variety of outdoor activities, not just running, then these could be a good choice. However the robustness of the Skyline Tights may compromise comfort for some people, particularly for running, unless the fit is right.

The sturdy fabric would be good for scrambling, but perhaps it's overkill for most running days  © Dan Bailey
The sturdy fabric would be good for scrambling, but perhaps it's overkill for most running days
© Dan Bailey

Fabric

This feels like a high quality garment. The tough Matrix fabric around the seat, knees and ankles in particular almost feels more mountain softshell than running tights. This undoubtedly provides a toughness in these high wear areas beyond what you would usually see in running tights - good for regular scrambling perhaps. The remainder of the tights are made from a much softer knitted fabric (Reflex), the inner face of which is very different and feels smooth and comfortable.

The tights have a DWR treatment, making them shower-shrugging. This is definitely worth having on running tights as most runners are reluctant to don waterproof trousers unless things get really grim.

The construction seems pretty robust with flat lock seams throughout. I guess these are used as they are really secure. One minor issue if you run though heather a lot is that the exposed stitching can get trashed and fluffy around the ankles; however this is more cosmetic than anything.

The men's tights are available in black/charcoal grey while the women's version is also available in a blue and black design.

Relatively warm and thick, they'd be better suited to winter than summer  © Dave Saunders
Relatively warm and thick, they'd be better suited to winter than summer
© Dave Saunders

Weight

It is quite surprising that these tights are not lighter, being the same weight (~240g; manufacturer's weight) as the Pacer Gore-Tex jacket. I think this seems relatively heavy.

Fit

Out of the different garments I've tried from the Skyline range I feel these tights are the outlier. The mountain pedigree of Rab products makes itself felt in a way, because these seem a little over-engineered for running. For example the degree of stretch is less than other running tights I've used (and I've been a middle aged man in tights for quite some time). This means that they are tight on the lower leg (no, I've not got massive calves) and yet give the sensation of being a bit loose elsewhere.

Another issue is that the fairly heavy fabric bunches up behind your knees when they bend, and the sensation is exacerbated as there are a few seams there too.

These, like many running tights, will require you to think about what you'll wear underneath, most likely some kind of lycra-type underwear or shorts.

I am 5'11'' and 74kg, and the medium seems about the right size. These are available in separate versions for men and women.

The fabric tends to bunch up behind the knees - not helped by that seam  © Dan Bailey
The fabric tends to bunch up behind the knees - not helped by that seam
© Dan Bailey

Features

There are 20cm YKK zips on the outside of each ankle. The moderate degree of stretch in the fabric means these are essential in order to get them on!

There is one zipped rear pocket, which will easily fit most smartphones. The inner face of the pocket is not water resistant so think carefully about what you put in it even when the weather is dry, as it will get sweaty.

Waist adjustment; there is 4cm wide chunky elastic all the way around the waist but also a less stretchy flat ribbon which can be tightened and tied. One issue with ribbons is that they can get twisted, creating a bump and some people (like me) can get really ticked off with minor irritations like this.

The tights have reflective markers on the back, the Rab 'Skyline' logo on the rear pocket and two smaller markers on the backs of each calf.

Summary

Does your running involve more than just pounding the roads with your feet? If so then many UKC/UKH people might consider these durable tights as they could be a good choice for scrambling, climbing and the general rough and tumble of fast paced days in the mountains. However as an out-and-out tight for all running use I think they are too thick, and not stretchy enough.

Rab say

Perfect for long summer days exploring the mountains at pace, the Skyline Tights are a midweight, high-wicking, durable tight. Made from the flexible and robust Reflex™ these tights have a reinforced seat and knee to protect from any snagging when scrambling over technical terrain.

Features are stripped back with a soft stretch waistband with drawcord adjustment, a zip pocket in back waistband and ankle zips.

  • Sizes: S-XL (men) 8-16 (women)
  • Weight:
  • Reinforced Matrix™ double weave panels at rear seat, knees and ankle
  • DWR for added water repellency
  • Reflex™ double knit stretch interlock with a nylon 66 outer for increased durability and a polyester inner for moisture management
  • 240g / 8.4oz
  • Elasticated and drawcord adjustment
  • YKK® zip pocket in back waistband with cam lock slider
  • YKK® zip ankle gussets with camlock sliders
  • Reflective logos
  • Fit: Slim

For more info see rab.equipment

Momentum Shorts - £38

I have worn these a lot during the lockdown and now summer's here the Momentum Shorts are proving a really useful clothing item. A great pair of versatile summer running shorts that are functional and fit for purpose, yet do not look excessively short and 'sporty'.

Momentum Shorts and Sonic LS Tee - a great combo  © Dave Saunders
Momentum Shorts and Sonic LS Tee - a great combo
© Dave Saunders

Fabric

Light, airy and breathable is what these seem to be all about. The lightweight Matrix fabric dries quickly but also has a DWR treatment to shrug off light showers.

Ultimately the comfort of these shorts will be influenced by what, if anything, you choose to wear underneath. Going commando underneath is probably not an option for running.

Weight

These weigh in at 166g (manufacturer's weight), which is very much in the same ballpark as similar style models such as the Arc'teryx Aptin Short. They pack down small, and would be a good option for travel, or summer backpacking, as well as running.

The longer cut makes it more likely you'll wear them on summer walking days, not just for running  © Dan Bailey
The longer cut makes it more likely you'll wear them on summer walking days, not just for running
© Dan Bailey

Fit

Unlike many shorts that are specific for running these baggy shorts do not have a liner. Therefore if you intend using these for running you will need to consider what you want to wear underneath them. This could be a pair of Lycra type shorts or a pair of running 'underpants' (e.g. such as Runderwear). Some will consider that an advantage since you get your own choice of underwear, whereas the built-in style isn't always supportive enough. And you won't feel you need to wash your shorts after every run! Not having a liner also makes you more likely to choose these shorts for hillwalking and general use.

I've tried them for running, hillwalking, mountain biking and general hanging about, and I've found them very light and very comfortable, with full leg movement for high steps. The lockdown has so far prevented me testing them climbing, however the length of leg, the flat neat waist adjustment and the 2-way stretch of the fabric means these will definitely be quite a good option for cragging too.

These are available in separate versions for men and women. The women's version is a much shorter cut, and looks quite different.

Low-profile waist adjustment  © Dave Saunders
Low-profile waist adjustment
© Dave Saunders

Phone-sized rear pocket  © Dave Saunders
Phone-sized rear pocket
© Dave Saunders

Features

In terms of waist adjustment there is a combination flat elastic across the back coupled with thin elastic shock cord at the front. These, including the cord grip fastener at the front, fit flat. Although most running-specific packs fit well above the waist the design of these shorts mean they can also be worn with standard rucksack hip belts and still be comfortable. The shorts fit really well with a climbing harness too.

You get a zip pocket at the back which is useful whilst running and it can easily accommodate a good sized mobile phone. The inner face of the pocket is the same breathable fabric so beware things in the pocket may get wet from sweat.

There are two 'normal' hand pockets in these shorts – pretty useless for running purposes. However they do help create a multifunctional garment; you could probably wear these drinking wine in the south of France without looking like some nerdy weekend jogger – if you like that sort of thing that is.

Summary

This is a great pair of shorts for endurance running, mountain running and probably all sorts of other running – and they look good too. For UKC/UKH people these are worth considering as they can also be used with a harness and could be used for any warm weather mountain activities; they're not so short and runner-oriented (in the men's version at least) that walkers would feel self-conscious wearing them.

Rab Say:

When covering greater distances in summer, you need legwear that offers complete comfort and versatility. The Momentum Shorts are light and robust with a quick dry time and full freedom of movement.

From steep climbs up jagged peaks to traversing ridges, the Momentum Shorts are designed for covering greater distances at pace. Made from lightweight but durable Matrix™ double weave fabric they offer full freedom of movement when hiking, running or scrambling in the mountains. Treated with a DWR these shorts will repel water during light showers and dry quickly.

Features are stripped back with a simple elasticated waistband with drawcord adjustment, a zip pocket in back waistband and two hand pockets.

  • Sizes: S-XL (men) 8-16 (women)
  • Weight: 166g
  • YKK® zip pocket in back waistband with cam lock slider
  • Elasticated waistband with elastic and drawcord adjustment
  • Lightweight Matrix™ single weave with 2-way stretch and DWR
  • Hand pockets with venting mesh pocket bags
  • Reflective logos
  • Fit: Regular
  • Inside leg 22cm/ 8.7inch (size L)

For more info see rab.equipment

Sonic LS Tee (shirt) - £50

Who knew you could say so much about such an apparently simple garment? I have been out and about in this base layer top during the lockdown doing all sorts of running, walking and mountain biking. Although the weather has not always been baking hot during testing there has certainly been a lot of sunshine, and it's clear to see the value of some of the design features which are targeted at the issues arising from exercising in environmentally challenging hotter conditions.

If you want to cover up, without overheating, it's a good choice  © Dan Bailey
If you want to cover up, without overheating, it's a good choice
© Dan Bailey

Fabric

The fabric is very thin and breathable. I wondered what the rationale was for the two slightly different fabrics used here, but Rab's explanation makes perfect functional sense. The slightly denser Motiv fabric covers the parts of the body which are more exposed to the sun whilst the more open-weave, mesh-like material maximizes airflow in the regions where sun exposure is less of an issue (sides, under arms, lower back).

Overall, this works - you get long sleeves to cover up yet it does feels light enough to wear in strong sunlight and heat.

The fabric has a Polygiene treatment. This antimicrobial treatment involving silver chloride stops stink-producing bacteria thriving on the sweat present in the clothing. This means the top can be worn longer with less washing. I have tried this out and skipped a few washes and so far I have not had any complaints from my family.

Rab's 'Microactive' seams used to construct this garment are very neat, compact, smooth with very dense stitching.

Weight

This top weighs in at just 135g (manufacturer's weight), which doesn't seem a lot for a long sleeved t-shirt. Things this light also pack up tiny if you are carrying them.

There's a deep zip for venting  © Dan Bailey
There's a deep zip for venting
© Dan Bailey

Thums up for loops (rather than holes)  © Dan Bailey
Thums up for loops (rather than holes)
© Dan Bailey

Fit

This is not a tight fitting running top. It feels light and airy and the long sleeves make it a really good option for long runs in the sun, especially if you're susceptible to burning. Also, in situations where you need to put a shell jacket on over the top during rain showers having a long sleeve base layer makes things SO much more comfortable.

Given sun protection is one aim, a higher fitting collar might be more desirable in some situations, as the one you get here is pretty low. There would have been the flexibility to include this without making it too warm, as there is a zip.

The Sonic LS tee is available in versions for men and for women. There are also other tops in the Sonic range, a short sleeve zipped tee shirt and a vest.

Features

Features are minimal with products like this! I find the short zips on running tops like this are actually quite useful - including those tops with short sleeves - as they are a remarkably effective way of maintaining thermal comfort during fluctuating weather conditions.

There are two small thumb loops up the end of each sleeve. These are quite good as they avoid the need for a thumb hole in the fabric, which some people dislike as they can make for draughty wrists. For visibility you get a reflective logo on the chest and reflective Rab 'Skyline' logo on the back of neck.

Summary

It may have long sleeves but the Sonic LS tee is best suited the world of sweaty efforts in conditions where some sun protection is needed. This is useful not just for running; this would be really good for all warm weather mountain activities, especially when exposed to strong sun.

Rab Say

The two-fabric construction of the Sonic LS Tee is designed to offer outstanding moisture management and UPF protection in the same garment. While Motiv™ fabric on the chest, shoulders and upper back is slightly heavier for sun protection, the use of open-knit mesh panels under the arms, at the cuffs and on the lower back increases airflow exactly where it's needed. A regular fit helps preserve that airflow and the deep venting zip on the chest is bonded in and extended to the sternum for extra comfort when wearing a running pack.

With soft, lightweight micro-seam stitching to help eradicate abrasion and keep the weight down to just 135g, the Sonic LS Tee is a highly specialised long-sleeve mountain running top.

  • Sizes: S-XL (men) 8-16 (women)
  • Weight: 135g
  • Microactive seams are strong and soft inside for comfort
  • Polygiene® Stays Fresh Technology
  • Motiv™ single jersey fabric with subtle texture and mesh structures
  • Reflective branding
  • YKK® coil half length front zip
  • Fit: Regular

For more info see rab.equipment



Support UKH

We need your help.

UKHillwalking is a vibrant site with rich content and an amazing community. So far, all we’ve asked is that you visit and interact with the site, but we are now in uncertain times. We need to look at new ways to ensure we can keep providing our content and features whilst maintaining our key aim of allowing free access to everyone.

If you appreciate UKHillwalking then please help by becoming a UKH Supporter.

UKH Supporter

  • Support the website we all know and love
  • Show your support UKH Supporter badge on your profile and forum posts

15 Jul

Not a runner, but the shorts do look good for under a harness... Possibly as an over short when you don't want to go full-lycra on a bike too? Pocket orientation becomes quite important then though.

18 Jul

Do you know if the Spark jacket packs down to a similar size as the Pacer one?


Facebook Twitter Copy Email LinkedIn Pinterest