I’ve been using the Rab Women’s VR Lite Jacket for around a month now for everything from ski touring to sitting around the office. Here’s my thoughts so far:
Rab bill the VR Lite Jacket as a ‘summer weight soft shell jacket for multi-activity use’ – they’re certainly not wrong! Whilst it hasn’t exactly been summer-like weather recently, it’s been ideal for testing it out with medium to fast paced activities in cooler conditions. In the past I’ve used a Pertex Microlight windshirt over a baselayer for this kind of thing, so I was interested to see how the Vapour-Rise Pertex Equilibrium/micropile liner system would compare.
It’s the perfect weight for mountain biking. Layering it over a short or long sleeved baselayer works well, depending on just how cold it is. The great breathability means you don’t overheat going uphill, aided by venting with the front zip which is easy to operate one handed. Zip it up and it provides enough warmth for the downhill without being bulky. Vapour-Rise is wind-resistant but not fully windproof and I actually really like being able to feel a bit of a breeze through the jacket; it regulates my temperature but not enough to make me cold (plus it makes me feel like I’m going faster downhill than I probably am!). On the really cold morning commutes it’s worked well as a mid-layer, with my old windshirt over the top too, giving me a bit more protection. Generally though the VR Lite Jacket has worked great by itself without the clamminess that using a windshirt over a short sleeved t-shirt can give.
Running has been an interesting experiment. There’s no denying that the ‘cosiness’ of the microfleece liner makes it a little easier to leave the house when it’s snowing outside, however it’s a little too warm once you get going uphill, even when worn next-to-skin. Great for shorter, easier runs in the negative degrees but too warm (for me) doing anything longer or faster. Where I could see it coming in to it’s own is on longer stop-start events such as mountain marathons, where it would give you added warmth on slower moving sections or at checkpoints.
The jacket’s been used for a day’s ski touring in the Lakes where it performed fantastically – however stay tuned for a longer, touring specific review towards the end of the month once I’ve used and abused it in the Alps!
Fabric aside, a little about the fit and features of the VR Lite Jacket:
The jacket is a fairly short length. Initially I had concerns that this wouldn’t work on the bike but I’ve actually found it fine, no cold spots. Pockets are well placed, large and easy to open and close – and don’t gape if you leave them open. Perfect. The Pertex Equilibrium fabric continues in to the pocket slightly to give you a bit more weather protection if they’re left open.
For me, the downside of the jacket is the cuffs – they will tighten as much as you like with a velcro tab, however there isn’t quite enough elastic in them to easily roll them up. I’m able to push them up to just below my elbow, but it’s a little tight and a bit of a fight with a larger watch on.
The microfleece liner of the jacket has a tendency to ‘grab’ against merino baselayers. Whilst running it pulled my merino t-shirt up every few steps – though this was easily solved by tucking it in! Biking produces less movement, although it is noticeably more comfortable with a short sleeved baselayer than a long sleeved one. Of course, wearing a synthetic baselayer would be ideal – which is why we’re giving away the Rab Aeon Tee’s with every VR product!
All in all, the VR Lite Jacket is a perfect choice for faster-paced activities on those days where you want a little more warmth than just a baselayer or thin windshirt, but don’t want a fleece on. It’s a little too warm for running in, though this isn’t really its intended use – there are more running specific VR pieces such as the VR Stretch Top (Kevin’s review of this is coming). The jacket fits well, fitted but not too tight, and the pockets are great. The only downside is the tightness of the cuffs.
Check out the whole range of Rab Vapour-Rise here, plus your chance to win your own VR Lite Jacket.