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Rab Vapour-Rise Guide Jacket

rated 4.5 of 5 stars
photo: Rab Vapour-Rise Guide Jacket soft shell jacket

If you need a winter soft-shell and weight isn't an issue, this is the one.


  • Well designed and nicely made
  • Outstanding adjustable, helmet compatible and stowable hood with moldable wire brim
  • Excellent breathability and moisture-wicking capability
  • Great worn on its own. But even better as a winter mid-layer should the weather turn nasty.
  • 5 sizeable pockets
  • Slightly longer than average torso length provides adequate coverage and prevents it from riding up much


  • Metal two-way zip has occasionally snagged
  • An excess of gridded fleece lining material which may get caught on main zip
  • Depending on activity and weather may be too heavy and warm to wear from Spring till Autumn
  • Very slight piling noticeable on lighter Pertex Equilibrium fabric where pack harness and straps rubbed
  • Additional use of the more durable DWS Matrix fabric may slightly decrease breathability, but would improve its durability

Purchased my first one last Autumn (2016) in size XL and in the striking Red colour.

Rab states this jacket is a "Regular fit." I ordered my usual XL size, which for me (who's of rugby player build) is a tad long over my arms and a bit snug around my bulky torso - Rab tend to make Softshell jackets which can be quite long in the sleeves and form fitting in the body these days. Which may be great for people with the arms and proportions of an Orangutan(?!)

However. The jacket's length does give some additional protection below the waist and means that it won't ride up as easily whenever i happen to be reaching or stretching.

I've worn it a number of times since camping, hiking, and scrambling up North, even during the coldest spells last Autumn and Winter(2017/18). My own experiences have only confirmed the experiences and testimonies of others relating to the Pertex Equilibrium's amazing breathability and moisture-wicking capabilities.

Large sections of harder wearing DWS Matrix material are used on the hood, shoulders and outer-facing side of the sleeves. Areas which are expected to take more punishment and carry more weight from things like backpack straps etc.

When worn as an outer over base-layers and possibly lighter mid-layers the combination of the two fabrics offers reasonable protection from light drizzle and breezes, but somewhat short of sheltering you from the wettest and windiest weather (when a hardshell may be required).

It’s still impressive, and perhaps a little freaky, how the Vapour Rise Guide can keep me feeling relatively dry and comfortable inside though. Even after the Pertex face fabric has begun to wet-out in a few places when experiencing damp, drizzly conditions.

In my experience the Vapour Rise Guide soft-shell seems to perform best during cold and fairly dry conditions, providing one isn’t standing around for too long. As i can begin to feel appreciably cooler after a while spent idling around camp for instance. An inevitable side-effect of the Pertex Equilibrium material’s amazingly breathable and moisture-wicking capabilities no doubt.

When worn as a mid-layer underneath a down jacket or hard-shell its moisture wicking ability seems to come into its own, and has prevented me from becoming overly hot and clammy during longer periods of physical activity in damp or frigid conditions.

The adjustable, high-fastening, helmet-compatible hood design is among the best I've seen in any hard or soft-shell and when tightened, effectively minimises the ingress of wind and rain. When not in use the hood can be rolled down and stowed using a velcro flap at the back of the collar/hood.

Loving the feature count. Five sizable pockets - 2 A-line harness compatible hand pockets, 2 internal zip pockets, 1 large breast pocket - to store: batteries, binoculars, compass, gloves, GPS, hat, headtorches, maps, mobile phone, snacks etc.

The two-way main zip allows easier access to bib or pant pockets as well as offering another option for ventilation without having to unzip the jacket completely. And is a most welcome feature for when I’m answering the call of nature.

I have found a few slight drawbacks when using the Vapour Rise Guide jacket though. The two-way main zip could be more robust. I've had to take extra care when zipping up, as it has snagged inconveniently a couple of times. And the 2 ‘harness compatible’ A-line hand pockets could be placed an inch or so higher, as backpack or climbing harnesses may restrict access to the bottom portion of the hand pocket’s zips and internal storage.

There have also been some slight signs of piling or rubbing, where my backpack harness and straps would have been pressing and rubbing against the lighter Pertex Equilibrium fabric on small areas of the shoulder and sides of the jacket for long periods. Increased use of the more durable DWS Matrix fabric may have slightly decreased breathability and added some weight, but this would definitely have improved its durability.

A minor gripe. But it seems that Rab may have reduced the amount of excess gridded fleece lining material without adversely affecting performance, as the lining invariably catches on and gathers up your base or mid-layers.

Of course, this jacket’s great features inevitably come at a cost and result in a soft-shell jacket which at 840g is significantly heavier than average.

Lastly, I would have preferred some more colour options. I'd like to have one in Deep (Poseidon) Blue. A colour which I understand was discontinued a few years ago.

With a few small reservations, I'd highly recommend Rab's Vapour-Rise Guide Jacket for anyone who's in the market for a breathable, water and wind resistant winter (heavy) weight soft-shell. 

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: £128 (US$164)

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