Released for the spring/summer 2016 season, Rab's Vapour-rise One is a thin women's softshell jacket well suited to warmer weather use, whether hillwalking or cragging. As you would expect from Rab, a lot of thought has clearly gone into this lightweight number. I’ve been wearing it all summer long, from Lakeland fells and Scottish hills to an Alpine walking holiday. So is it ‘the one’ to put on your wish list for next spring/summer?
By the standards of softshell jackets the VR One is really light - a meagre 367g for my size 14 review sample, on the kitchen scales. It uses the Vapour-rise system, a tried and trusted collaboration between Rab and Pertex that marries a light outer fabric with a micro fleece liner to create something that’s both breathable, high wicking and quick drying while at the same time offering a fair measure of wind resistance. It does well in a light shower too, though of course there are limits here and I’d never be without an additional waterproof shell if the forecast was rainy. For its tiny weight the Vapour-rise One feels relatively warm; this may be partly down to its layered construction.
Overall this jacket has been my ‘go to’ this summer. Packing down small and weighing so little, I’ve found it very handy to have in my bag in the changeable Scottish climate, to throw on if needed over a short sleeve t-shirt as the weather switched from roasting sunshine to bitter wind, then rain, then back to sunshine again. It is ideal for any sport which is going to leave you going from hot and sweaty to cool in quick succession (biking, climbing, fast hillwalking, running….). Wearing it while plodding uphill, its breathability is obvious straight away.
The jacket is light enough to loop around your waist and warm enough to cover up over a sports bra-top. Being honest I have never yet dared bare myself in open spaces in a sports bra-top. But now I have the VR One in my life the time may come…
According to Rab this jacket could be used as a baselayer in winter, too. It is certainly breathable and quick drying enough for this use, though personally I think the cut might be a little roomy to fit as nicely under additional layers as a tight fitting dedicated baselayer would.
As a fabric however I have certainly found that the micro fleece Vapour-rise lining works really well next to bare skin or short sleeves. But it’s only reasonable on top of smooth long-sleeved baselayers. Meanwhile it’s a real no-no over the kind of microfleece midlayer that is commonly called for in Scotland, on which the jacket lining just feels like it catches all the time. Though the lining has a little stretch, this clingy feel on under layers does take some getting used to, and rather reduces the softshell’s versatility as an outer layer on colder days.
Fitting is fairly relaxed, but not so baggy that you feel like a kite in the wind. Arm articulation is good for climbing and scrambling, and the hem sits low to offer below-the-waist coverage, particularly at the rear where it more or less covers your bum. An elastic drawcord in the hem helps keep the fit close in windy weather.
The hood fits easily over a low-volume helmet, with plenty of manoeuvrability and visibility. The micro fleece lining extends up into the hood to keep you very cosy, and with two draw tags at the sides (with tails placed well away from the face to avoid getting whipped in the eye when it’s windy) and a third at the rear, there’s plenty of adjustment to pull the fit in nice and close. A little wire in the brim helps hold its shape in the wind. Altogether the hood is a real winner, with a great fit, but when not needed it can also be rolled fairly neatly out of the way with a Velcro tab.
The jacket has two large zipped chest pockets which are ideally placed when wearing a harness, and big enough to hold hats, gloves and even a folded OS map. The left hand pocket also doubles as a neat integrated stuff sack with a sewn-in hanging loop (and the wrinkles shake out pretty quickly). On the downside the two micro-fleece lined handpockets placed lower down on the jacket do not have any zips. I am not sure if this is to cut down on weight but for me this reduces their usefulness quite significantly. Loose items like a phone could - and in my case did - quite literally pop out of them when you’re not looking.
The other details are all spot on though. The Velcro wrist fasteners are easy to use and tight and the flash of different colour and reflective detail here are also nice additions. The jacket comes in a selection of colours ‘merlin’ (blue), ‘acid (lime green) and ‘beluga’ (black). All the zips are YKK for reliability, and the main zip features a double zipper and a little internal storm flap to help keep the wind out.
So is the Vapour-rise One the one? From the sunny Alps to the drizzly Highlands, it has certainly done well with the variety of settings and activities that I’ve subjected it to this summer. Its lightness makes it a really attractive choice as a softshell for the warmer months, and being so breathable and quick drying, this is a jacket that you can comfortably wear on the move. However with its clingy lining it is not so great for layering on top of other clothes, and I think this somewhat limits its versatility in colder conditions. As autumn progresses I’ll be wearing this less and less; but come next spring I’ll probably be living in it again.
Outer fabric: Pertex Equilibrium
Liner: Zoned wicking micro fleece
Weight: 367g (size 14, my weight)
Sizes: UK 8 - 16
Helmet compatible hood; wired peak; roll down anti-snag velcro tab; 2-way YKK® front zip; internal storm flap and chin guard; 2 YKK® zipped Napoleon large chest pockets; left pocket doubles as integrated stuff sack; 2 micro-fleece lined hand pockets; Anti-snag velcro adjustable cuffs; Hem drawcord; Reflective trim
New for Spring/Summer ’16, the Vapour-rise™ One Jacket is a light-weight, highly breathable and innovative softshell jacket, designed using our unique Vapour-rise™ technology to offer the ultimate women’s climbing and multi-sport jacket.
Developed exclusively by Rab® and Pertex®, Vapour-rise™ creates breathable, high wicking and quick drying performance clothing. The Vapour-rise™ One Jacket features a fully helmet-compatible hood and anti-snag Velcro adjustable cuffs to increase an already packed feature set. These features lend this jacket to climbing and multi-sport use in the summer months, whilst the high wicking nature of the Vapour-rise™ fabrics also enable the Alpine Jacket to be worn during the winter months as a next-to-skin layer.
For more info see www.rab.equipment