Rab VR Lite Alpine Jacket Review

Stu’s already offered his thoughts on the Rab VR Lite Alpine Jacket however I thought I’d add a slightly different perspective on it. I’m a heavier bloke than Stu and don’t have his ‘Duracell Bunny’ level of fitness so I tend to be a bit hotter and get a bit sweatier. Couple this with liking to run cold and I tend towards lightweight windshirts and baselayers, microfleeces etc.

Rab VR Lite Alpine Jacket

I’ve had the jacket about six weeks now and in Yorkshire that’s meant everything from snow and sleet to summer warmth. The jacket has been used mountain biking, running and walking but principally it has been my climbing jacket.

The VR Lite Alpine is generally billed as a light, lined windshirt for high aerobic activities however for me that’s not how I tended to wear it. Even worn against skin the VR Lite Alpine was a little too warm for me to cycle or run in even with the temperature in the low single digits. I had to constantly fiddle with the zip to keep comfortable. On a road bike this would be less of an issue but as a rule I think I would stick with unlined windshirts and baselayers for cycling and running.

For me where the VR Lite Alpine comes into its own is lower aerobic activities where it makes a great replacement for a fleece and windshirt or a much lighter and less bulky alternative to a softshell jacket. For moderately aerobic activities like walking, climbing and belaying the jacket provides as much warmth as a microfleece and almost complete protection from the wind without feeling or looking too much like a shell. In fact the Pertex Equilibrium face is easily the most comfortable windproof fabric I’ve come across. It’s also really comfortable under a hardshell if the weather turns as it offers a very smooth face. I should also add that the Apple model is an lovely intense green colour without the washed-out look that some vapour-rise has suffered from in the past, in fact the image rather undersells it.

Probably my favourite feature of the jacket is its cut which provides impressive freedom of movement without riding up or bagging when not extended. How this is achieved is, as far as I’m concerned magic, however the multi panel construction of the sleeves may well have something to do with it.

Thanks to this cut and the fabric the VR Lite Alpine is the most comfortable out I’ve ever climbed in. When you wear it under a harness it stays put even when you’re making cross-throughs or other rangy movement, with the cuffs cinched up there’s no bagginess around the wrists and both pockets are easily accessible. The hood comes in handy on breezy belays and would be especially appreciated when winter climbing or walking. I would have slight reservations about gnarling my way up granite chimneys in the VR Lite Alpine as it is ultimately a lightweight piece but that’s a harsh test for any garment.

Speaking of winter climbing, it’s not something I’m really into any more but I have to say I reckon this would be pretty high up on my kit list. The jacket would provide ample warmth on early starts and whilst climbing without being too sweaty on the walk in.

So there you have it, I use the jacket in a very different way to Stu – he uses it as a light windshirt whereas for me its more of a fleece replacement – but we both really rate it.

Sam Cartwright

Sam Cartwright

Hi, I'm a keen hiker and climber who grew up in the North of Cumbria before moving to Leeds for university. I used to be a very keen skier but a series of accidents led to me dropping the sport in favour of climbing. I've also recently rekindled an interest in mountain biking and am often to be found charging round local trail centres. I started at Facewest in August '08 and currently work in Web Development and Sales. Thanks, Sam

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