What if Carlsberg made outdoor clothing?

Limestone hills and dry-stone walls in the wes...
Yorkshire Dales

Off track from my normal content I know but hey, it’s my blog so I can post what I want… If J.C. Jacobsen had chosen to manufacture outdoor gear instead of beer back in 1847, it’s likely that his brand would ‘probably’ be associated with some of the best in the world…

Irrespective of the fact I’m not as actively involved in outdoor pursuits as I once was, more an armchair adventurer these days, I’ve always chosen my outdoor gear more by function than form. In addition I’ve also always been something of a penny pincher, finding it very hard to justifiably spend much more than £100GBP on any single item of kit.

Finances are an even greater consideration since retirement (especially if the wife has an input) that said, I can’t actually recall ever shelling out much more than that; except perhaps on a pair of boots, a mountain bike and a kayak.

Advancements in textile technology not without standing, the clothing industry has always been at the mercy and desires of the dedicated followers of fashion. Now more than ever our society has an obsession with labels and designers but thankfully, this has mostly missed the outdoor clothing industry. A factor that outdoor enthusiasts once benefited from however; the outdoor scene is now also succumbing to that problem in many respects.

But still, most ‘real’ outdoor clothing is born more from function and capability as opposed to fashion and fad, non more so than products from Equip Outdoor Technologies Ltd of Derbyshire. This British company, is the name behind the iconic ‘RAB®’ brand of outdoor ger. RAB® have been designing excellent functional outdoor gear since the early 1980’s and it’s founder, Rab Carrington, a guru of technical clothing and respected climber for 30 years, is still firmly involved in the development of equipment and that knowledge and experience shows through.

Rab Carrington started his small company in Sheffield where his products were based on his “extensive experience” gained on bold, lightweight first ascents. This enabled him to design and manufacture down clothing and sleeping bags of the highest quality. RAB® equipment has continued to meet the needs of lightweight Alpinist and is designed for the ‘most extreme’ conditions in the world.

So with all this undoubted technical heritage to the fore, I finally took the plunge and (surprisingly) stumped up the best part of £140GBP for a new jacket. Despite more reasonable prices being available via the internet, I actually chose to purchase the product from a local retailer (C.C. Outdoors). Unless there are significant differences in cost, which unfortunately there often are, I tend towards favouring the ‘real’ as opposed to ‘virtual’ shopping experience. A little old fashioned in this day and age I know, but still with some advantages. The tactile aspects of ‘real shopping’ is something you can’t get from the internet; this lack of feel & fit factor is also something I would never accept when purchasing something like footwear.

Back to the jacket… I’d been looking for a reasonably priced multi-functional softshell type jacket for some time, to replace and/or supplement a techie type windstopper® fleece I’ve had in my outdoor wardrobe for upwards of fifteen years. I wanted a mid-layer / occasional outer layer jacket with some warmth and a degree of protection from precipitation. I’ve long been a user and advocate of the layering system for outdoor clothing, probably even before many of today’s enthusiasts were really aware of the advantages. So what have I bought and why?

The purchase in question was a RAB® Vapour-rise Guide Jacket (in Royal Blue), the company say that Vapour-Rise is; “The first true softshell system – incorporating a wind and water-resistant outer fabric with a fleece liner – this combination is warm and weather-resistant whilst being incredibly comfortable and breathable” (read more).

The Vapour-rise Guide Jacket is a winter weight softshell that really works! Weather protection and supreme breathability using fabric technology originally devised by Rab Carrington himself.

The Vapour-rise range of clothing was developed exclusively by Rab with Pertex® to provide a 2 layer system that offers windproof breathable, high wicking and quick drying performance clothing. The result is a versatile single layer for mountaineers, walkers, runners and mountain bikers that has become respected by all that have used it.

The New Vapour-rise Guide takes everything we’ve learnt over the years with our ever popular Vapour-rise range and ‘winterfies’ it! We use a durable Pertex® Equilibrium® and double weave softshell outer fabric and add a Polartec® hi-loft fleece liner. When combined these two fabrics create a jacket that balances weather protection, warmth and maximum breathability.

With high water repellency, fantastic levels of breathability, a 2 way front zip with internal storm flap, a helmet compatible hood, 2 external pockets and a deep chest pocket (that will take an OS map!!), 2 internal pockets AND pit zips for when you’re working really hard! the Vapour-rise Guide is perfect for UK winter conditions – so should really work anywhere!! (rab.uk.com)

Unfortunately I have to say, it’s somewhat unlikely I’ll ever actually ‘test’ the product to its limits, at least not in the environments for which it was intended. You see my ‘expeditions’ rarely run to much more than a gentle stroll in the Yorkshire Dales or North Yorkshire Moors these days but that said, so far the manufacturer’s claims fully lived up to my expectations. The jacket is a soundly designed and constructed piece of kit with some great features. As it was undoubtedly manufactured to meet the requirements of many an active outdoor enthusiast, I’m positive it won’t fail a now mostly recumbent couch potato! A more (arguably) ‘professional’ review can be found in the article below.

LFTO Review: The Rab® Vapour-rise Guide Jacket is a superb winter jacket… Jacket’s features are excellent…(Trail Magazine)

So is the jacket the best of its type in the world? Well I would have to be honest and simply say perhaps; I haven’t really owned or experienced many others of this particular genre. However; if your question was “is this the best piece of kit I have ever owned?” The answer would be a resounding… “Probably!”

All Rab’s current range and info at www.rab.uk.com.