Saturday, December 09, 2023

Rab Equipment Winter Run/Hike/Ski Apparel Round Up Review

 Article by Jeff Valliere

 Rab Winter Clothing

Rab is a British company that was founded over 40 years ago by Rab Carrington starting out with sleeping bags.  Word spread about his high quality, hand stitched ingenious designs and he started making jackets as well and the rest is history!  

I have heard of Rab of course, but remarkably have never owned or tested a single piece of Rab gear until now.  To say that I am impressed is an understatement, Rab is next level gear, with the highest level quality, top end materials and well thought out designs, designs that are obviously tested and refined by those who are actually out in the field using the gear.  Rab is THE benchmark for quality outdoor clothing/gear and I appreciate that they show a strong commitment to sustainable practices and materials.  

I have been putting the Vapour-Rise Summit Jacket, Incline Vapour-Rise Pants, Mythic Alpine Down Jacket and the Khroma Latok Gore Tex Pro Pants to the test here in the foothills and high mountains of Colorado and am eager to share my impressions below!

Rab Vapour-Rise Summit Jacket

Sizes Small-XXL

352g/12.4oz (men’s size M)


Description/Details:  The Vapour-Rise Summit Jacket is a hooded, wind resistant softshell jacket designed to be a mid layer or outer layer (depending on conditions) in cold, wintery conditions.  The Summit jacket is ideal for skiing, snowshoeing, winter mountaineering, hiking and even trail running.  It features a Pertex Quantum Air outer layer to protect against cold winds and fleecy VR warm inner lining for soft, breathable warmth.

The Rab Vapour-Rise System is one of the most effective fabrics I have used and is exceptionally effective at keeping you warm, thermally regulated, wicking and quick drying.  Comfort, flexibility and range of motion is amazingly good .

The fleecy inner layer is unbelievably soft and cozy. 

When I first put the jacket on, I was so amazed at the comfort, I considered just setting it aside to use as day to day winter house clothing or pajamas, but oh no, this is a serious tech piece that needs to be utilized out in the cold and snow.

The VR Summit Jacket is packet full of tech, from the very effective 20D Pertex Quantum Air with fluorocarbon-free DWR outer shell that is very very effective at blocking out the wind, while providing a remarkable level of breathability, to the warm and fuzzy breathable fleece inner lining that when both are combined, is especially effective for low, medium or high intensity output in cold weather.

Attention to detail here is another huge plus for the VR Summit, with a hood drawstring where the pull strings are on the inside (no more annoying pull strings flapping in the wind), a velcro cinch on the back/top of the hood for more refined fit, a generous Napoleon chest pocket, two very generous pack and harness compatible hand pockets, low profile wrist cuffs with a very nice velcro straps that does not interfere with outer layers (and a nice bit of stretch), easy to grab pull tabs (especially important when wearing glove/mittens) and a really snug elasticized waist cinch to keep out drafts and spindrift.

With the drawstrings and velcro, the helmet compatible hood really snugs nicely and is secure even in strong winds.

The wrist cuff is low profile and has a stretch panel.  This is particularly welcome if you wear a large sports watch, as you do not have to fight with the cuff to look at your watch, yet remains snug otherwise.

The waist cinch (one on either side) is easy to operate, even with gloves on.

Size/Fit:  I am a shade under 5’10” and 145lbs and wear a size medium, which fits me great.  Fit is generously roomy and I could likely get by with a small (since I have a short torso), but I almost always err on the side of roomy for comfort and layering instead of risking it being too tight/short.

Performance/Conclusions:  The VR Summit jacket is unreal, as it is exceptionally versatile, high quality and detail oriented.  It is a warm softshell, yet I find it to be very reasonable to wear for casual or low output use in temps in the 50’s but is perhaps a bit much for any hard efforts in the 40’s, but is excellent when the temps dip down below freezing.  For running, I have found that I am most likely to reach for the Summit when it is in the 20’s or colder and I am comfortable in temps down into the teens with just a light base layer underneath.  

I have even been comfortable just snowshoeing at a mellow pace with the family at 11,000 feet, with temps in the 20’s and strong winds, where the family were adding layers, including down puffy and I did not have to. 

I was comfortable from car to summit and back wearing just the VR Summit and a thin wool base layer.  It is remarkable how well this jacket insulates without overheating, how well it breathes, yet deflects the wind nearly as well as a hard shell.  I will be reaching for the VR Summit this winter for chilly trail runs in the 20’s or colder, backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, hiking and mountaineering as an outlier, or mid layer if it gets really cold or rains/snows heavily.  Because it is so warm, soft and fuzzy, I am also drawn to just wearing it day to day around the house, around town (it looks so sharp!) and get many compliments on it.  For $220 and all that the VR Summit offers, I would call it a steal!

Incline Vapour-Rise Pants

Size’s Small-XXL

418g/14.7oz (men’s size M)


Description/Details:  The Vapour-Rise Incline pants pair perfectly with the VR Summit Jacket, featuring a wind resistant and highly breathable Matrix double weave DWR outer fabric, brushed fast wicking lining for comfort and warmth, articulated knees for mobility, reinforced ankle and rear cuff, drawcord adjustable cuff opening, deep zippered hand pockets and zippered rear pocket.  The Incline pants are, like the jacket and perhaps even more so, dreamily soft, fuzzy and well insulated.  

As with the jacket, when I first tried on the pants, I imagined myself just using them as comfy lounge pants, but of course they need to be utilized for cold weather outdoor activities.  

Size/Fit:  My sample size for the Incline pants is size Large and fits me very well (I have 34” inseam and 33” waist).  The waist is not stretchy and has dual snap closure with fly and belt loops.  The tag says 34” waist which seems about right as there is a little extra room and I wear a belt to hold them up (though if I skipped the belt, I could get by just fine).  The length is perfect.

Performance/Conclusions:  I have used the Incline pants for mountain running in temps in the teens and they are great for that (in the snow, which involves high effort hiking uphill and jogging back down), but these are a bit on the heavy side for running most running outside of the coldest temperatures.   They are however perfect for mountain hiking, mountaineering, trekking, or just general wear on really cold days.  They are also great for snowshoeing and I think will perform very well as base layer pants to go under the Khroma Latok Pants (see below) on those cold cold ski days.  Again, I really appreciate the high quality materials, attention to details like the nice roomy zippered pockets, cinch cuffs, breathability, articulated knees and dual snap waist closure.  If you are looking for a warm, durable, breathable, comfortable pair of pants for active outdoor pursuits in cold weather, I highly recommend the VR Incline pants.

Mythic Alpine Down Jacket

Size’s Small-XXL

313g/11oz (men’s size M)


Description/Details: The Mythic Alpine is an ultra light minimalist down jacket designed to provide an impressive warmth to weight ratio, with 900 Fill Power European Goose Down, Nikwax Fluorocarbon-Free Hydrophobic Finish, a Pertex Quantum nylon ripstop DWR shell, lightweight zoned stitch-through construction, down hood with elasticized opening, stiffened peak (bill), fleece lined chin guard, precurved and articulated sleeves, zippered hand pockets, dual sided hem adjustment.

The 900 fill down is especially effective at providing excellent loft and retaining more volume and trapped air, while being very compressible.  From the Rab lab description:  

My sample size medium, with a stuff sack weighs in even lighter than advertised at just 10.875 oz/308 grams and packs down surprisingly small.

The Mythic Alpine, while very minimal and light, does not feel particularly delicate or flimsy.

While the Mythic Alpine is stripped down for light weight, it does not feel as though you are making compromises in any way.  The cuffs are snug and secure without needing velcro, the dual sided waist cinch is secure to keep out drafts and spindrift, the pockets are well placed and adequate size, the hood, despite not having adjustable pulls, is snug and secure.

Size/Fit:  I wear a men’s size medium here as well which fits me perfectly.  The fit of the jacket is not boxy or overly voluminous, but instead (to save weight), somewhat of a tapered fit.  I find that the fit is just right for layering underneath and even when wearing a base layer as well  the VR Summit jacket, I never feel confined and have easy freedom of movement.  I also appreciate that the slim, minimal design and lack of bulk allows for easily adding a shell over it.

Performance/Conclusions: I have owned a handful of down jackets from major brands over the years and can say with confidence that the Mythic Alpine is the very best by a large margin.  It is so light and packable, it feels like nothing to bring it along with you when you think you might need it or when you know you will be relying on it heavily.  While pared down and minimal with no frills, it does not feel as though any compromises are being made.  The 900 fill power really provides a surprising amount of warmth for the weight, where some of my other down jackets I felt inclined to wear a mid layer hoodie underneath, I do not need to with the Mythic Alpine (unless it is really cold, like single digits), as I am fine just wearing a base layer underneath, even when not being active.  

While not designed for high output activities, I have found the Mythic Alpine to not get overheated when hiking or snowshoeing moderately in the cold.  I will be bringing along the Mythic Alpine on all of my winter adventures from hiking, mountaineering, backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, etc… from now on, whether I think I will need it or not.  I also had initially resolved to save the Mythic Alpine purely for outdoor activities and wear out my older down jackets for day to day wear, but I most often find myself reaching for this one because it is so light, warm and versatile, yet simultaneously I do not overheat in it when it is not cold.  

Khroma Latok Gore Tex Pro Pants

Size’s Small-XXL

771g/27.1oz (men’s size M)


Description/Details:  The Khroma Latok pants are the pinnacle of heavy duty, durable, waterproof Ski Mountaineering pants.  With a Gore Tex Pro 3-Layer construction, articulated knees, crampon patches, 3 deep zippered pockets, large thigh vents, suspenders and snap adjustable hem to accommodate ski boots, the Khroma Latok is the ultimate outer layer to guard against the snow, cold and extreme mountain wind.

Around the waist is a deep tricot lined waistband, with belt loops, attachment points for suspenders, velcro adjustments on either side, as well as a dual snap closure.

On either thigh is a 12” long zippered vent for uphill travel and cooling when necessary.  There is also a large rear pocket.

On the front, there are 2 large zippered pockets, one on each thigh that are a whopping 9.5” deep and 11” wide at the widest, which eat up any reasonable size items you want handy (hat, gloves, food, phone, GPS, etc…

The inner gaiter works great at keeping out the snow, plus there is a generous crampon patch on the inner of each hem.

Size/Fit: As with the VR Incline (and all other pants), I went with size Large here and it is the perfect fit for my ~33” waist and 34” inseam.  The waist has very welcome velcro adjustments on either side to snug up the fit, as well as belt loops if you need more support.  I have not found a need to wear a belt, where the velcro adjustments combined with the removable suspenders are plenty enough to keep the pants in place.  The length is perfect and the cuffs easily fit over ski boots.  The pants are somewhat of a voluminous fit as one may expect for a shell pant, leaving plenty of room for layering underneath.

Performance/Conclusions: The Khroma Latok pants perform spectacularly, offering a fine balance of uphill breathability, with the ultimate water and windproof protection in the most extreme conditions.  They allow for a full range of motion with the articulated knees, are accommodating in their fit with the velcro waist adjustments, secure from sagging with suspenders and belt options and are exceptionally well built and durable.  

These are best for backcountry skiing, but are also perfectly suited for front country skiing, snowshoeing, winter hiking/trekking when it is exceptionally cold/snowy/wet.  

If I could make one improvement in a perfect world, it would be for the inner gaiter to be zippered, as well as a full length zipper to connect with the vent to allow for taking the pants off or putting them on without having to take off your boots.  

These are the best shell pants you can get and will last a lifetime.

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Jeff Valliere loves to run and explore the mountains of Colorado, the steeper and more technical the better. He has summited all of the 14ers in the state and can be found on mountain trails daily, no matter the weather, season, conditions or whether there is daylight or not.  On the side he loves to ski (all forms) bike and hike, often with his family, as he introduces his 12 year old daughters to the outdoors. Jeff was born and raised in New Hampshire, but has called Colorado home for over 25 years. He is 5’9” and 145 lbs.

Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased via shopping links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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