From time to time, we will be adding some of our favourite walks, cycles, and climbs for you to try yourself! From a 5 mile stroll through the leafy New Forest, to a 35 mile cycle accross the Purbeck Hills, we will try to add a variety of different lengths, locations and styles for you to enjoy. Likewise, any of our trips away will also get a write up!
If you are heading off somewhere adventurous, or have a favourite route, then let us know, send us some info and some pics and we will add it to our blog!
I have been an avid user of Vapour Rise for about 5 or 6 years now. Wind resistance, water resistance, warmth and wicking all in one package. Vapour Rise (VR) works so effectively, thanks to its two layers. Firstly, Pertex Equilibrium, exclusively designed by Rab in conjunction with Pertex, balances high wind resistance with fast wicking and drying. It works by using two different yarns, which help to suck moisture to the outside of the fabric, where it quickly dries. Secondly, you have the fleece liner, which kick starts the wicking process as well as providing you with insulation. This combination of fabrics and technologies results in a product that can be used for a huge range of activities and now thanks to the larger collection, can be used all year round.
I have been using a VR Lite Alpine Jacket since its release in 2012 and it has become one of the most widely used pieces in my outdoor wardrobe. The ‘Lite’ range use a thinner wicking micro fleece liner in comparison to its larger, warmer counterparts as well as a thinner, but more densely woven outer. This actually provides you with a more wind resistant outer fabric than the standard VR jacket or the VR Guide jacket. Even with this extra protection, my size small, along with all of the packaging and tags came in at a little over 330g – not bad when you consider what you’re getting.
The fit of the jacket is relatively snug, with a short cut and Rab’s familiar long arm length. A decent sized adjustable hood, with a wire peak and roll down closure is a very welcome feature, although the VR Lite Jacket does away with this for those hood haters out there. However, it must be noted that this is actually my second VR Lite Alpine jacket that I have owned. The first was let down by the hood adjustment tab, which started fraying, and eventually broke away entirely. I don’t know if it got caught at some point, or it was just a weak point in the design, but I missed the jacket enough to order a replacement this year.
The new colour for 2014, Twilight, arrived on my desk this morning and was a welcome return when I first slipped it on. The soft, lightweight, tricot liner adds just the right amount of warmth for this time of year but is breathable enough for when things and if things, do get a little warmer. Slightly elasticated cuffs combined with Velcro keeps the cuffs in order, whilst a drawcord on either side deal with any hem adjustments. The two Napoleon chest pockets sit well out of the way of a rucksack or climbing harness, meaning it won’t interfere, no matter what you chosen activity.
That leads me nicely onto the VR Lite Alpine jackets best feature. Its versatility. I have used this jacket extensively walking and hiking, backpacking, cycling, playing tennis and am currently sat here with it on in a slightly cold office… There may well be other midlayers which offer more wind and water resistance, better warmth, or improved wicking, but nothing come close to Vapour Rises ability to perform in all four areas so well. It is the kind of jacket that you put on in the morning, and 15 miles later, and the end of the day, you take it off again, regardless of the weather conditions in between. It adapts itself to perform wherever you‘re adventures take you. I have even found myself using this in winter for more active pursuits and as you would expect it performs wonderfully.
The one negative piece of feedback that we have received from some of our customers is how the two fabrics (Pertex Equilibrium & Liner) are not bonded together, but really, when the jacket is on, you don’t notice it. Big fabric brands are striving to find and develop the lightest, most efficient and protective fabrics available, so in this sense, Vapour Rise can seem quite traditional, but when it works so well, why change?
Whilst the concept for Vapour Rise has been around for quite a while now, you cannot deny how effective it really is. What is perhaps considered a fairly traditional product has amassed a real following in the UK and this latest version has brought it bang up to date. It looks good, it feels good and it gets the job done.
+ Very comfortable feel to the inner, providing a brilliant balance of warmth, wick, wind and water resistance.
+ New Twilight colour looks great with the contrast zips.
+ Superbly versatile design.
– I am really hoping that the incident with the hood adjustment was a one off!
The Boreas Pull On is a bit of strange one at first glance. It falls into the ‘Windshell’ category, but it isn’t one of these Pertex shells that you seem to find everywhere. It is made from a Polymide/Spandex blend, known by Rab as Matrix SWS. It is a soft, comfortable and stretchy fabric, but also one that is light enough and compact enough to not cause any concerns when stashing it in your pack.
I’ve never really got on with the traditional windshells – whilst I understand their super lightweight and compactness is almost unparalleled in the outdoor world, I’ve never found them very comfortable. They often feel clammy against the skin, are noisy and never seem to hang particularly nicely when you where them. That’s why I was so surprised when I first tried the Boreas. It is completely different and as far as I have seen over the last 2 years of use, doesn’t fall down in any of those pitfalls found in those normal windshells.
It is UPF 50+ and is a brilliant wicking layer. Using this over the summer of 2013, in those boiling temperatures, it was very cooling and comfortable to wear. The flat lock seams do their job, and improve the feel of the fabric next to the skin.
It is a very slim fit, and being a pull on, can sometimes seem a bit tricky to work your way into, but once it’s one, it really does feel brilliant. The hood is a close fitting, under the helmet kind of hood, so would be ideal for those long summer pitches, where you want a little more protection than just a t-shirt.
So, as I finish this review off, I find myself wondering if it really is a windshell at all. It’s really a mix of windshell, softshell and base layer all in one, but however you categorise it – it is a brilliant little product, and for only £50.00 for the 2014 season, is extremely good value. It is often overshadowed by lots of exciting new technologies and products, but really, it works brilliantly and is one of the most versatile and well used products I own.
Take a look today at Rough Gear, along with a brilliant range of new Rab clothing!
This summer, we have something a bit different arriving at Rough Gear. Norrona, those brightly coloured Norwegians, have done it again, and updated their mountain biking range and as you would expect, it is rather special. Fjøra sits in the middle of Møre og Romsdal, on the western coast of Norway, and is the name of Norrona’s mountain biking collection. We are very excited about this range cannot wait to receive it!
Take a look at some of Norrona’s athletes testing the new kit out:
I’ve been using an Osprey Raptor 10 for the last 3 years or so now and it has become my go-to bag for a whole host of activities. The raptor bags (available in three sizes; 6, 10 and 14) are the core of Osprey’s Biking range.
They have been around for 3 or 4 years now – I have actually used and abused both versions of the rucksack – the first one has travelled the world and has since been adopted by my girlfriend. The latest version is currently hanging up and drying from our latest mountain bike excursion and it is this latest incarnation that I will be reviewing today.
The Osprey Raptor 10 is a fully featured mountain biking bag, complete with a 3 litre Osprey Hydraulic Reservoir. This means that you’ll have ample space for all of your inner tubes, pumps, tools, all of your emergency layers, the odd energy bar as well as 3 litres of your favourite tipple! I have to admit, I have never been a fan of hydration reservoirs – yes, they make sense, but I just never really seem to use them.
That being said, the Osprey Hydraulic Reservoir is by far the best that I have ever come across and the way that it integrates itself into the bag is very effective. The reservoir hose that usually follows the shoulder harness has in this case been enclosed by a thin mesh. This feature has been lifted and adapted from the Osprey Kode ski bag and does a very good job at keeping everything secure and in place.
The fact that the reservoir sits in a separate compartment also means that it won’t interfere with any of the other bits and bobs you might be carrying, whilst the magnetic bite valve will neatly keep the hose secure on the sternum strap. As a result, I have used the reservoir on a few routes across the Purbeck hills and whilst I’m far from converted, it did its job very well.
Another of the major tweaks that the new Raptor has undergone in comparison to the older version is the back system. Both use the Osprey AirScape backsystem – a vented foam, however the most recent version of the Raptor is far more ventilated, with large, open channels keeping your back cool. I have used both versions on long, hot rides around Dorset and Hampshire and let’s face it, the first version was good, but it has been subtly refined to improve the all-day comfort of the bag.
An additional feature that has been added on the latest version is the roll out ToolWrap – a convenient, secure pouch, specially designed for bike tools and spares. If you’re the kind of person who will take the entire workshop with you, you may struggle for room, but otherwise, for those of us who might be able to change an inner tube, change the saddle height or perhaps, at a push, adjust the gears and brakes, we should be ok! The zipped pocket on each side of the hip belt is a useful area to store small snacks, phones – a very useful addition!
Whilst the Raptor 10 has been designed exclusively for mountain biking, I have found that it is equally as good for using when hiking or as a small daypack when exploring cities. You may argue, that an Osprey Talon 11 may be more suitable for this – I also asked myself the same question. The Raptor just feels a little bit more stable, a bit sturdier and well, just a bit more up to the job. Because of this, it carries heavier weights much more effectively regardless of if you are walking, cycling, skiing or just mooching around Milan.
The Raptor is available in three different sizes; 6, 10 and 14 litres, as well as a women’s specific version, also in 10 and 14 litres, known as the Raven. This results in a range of bags which are suitable for a huge range of cyclists – so if you’re off down your local trailway, or heading out for a 50 mile epic, you’ll be able to rely on the Osprey Raptor range to help you get there.
I love this little rucksack – I’ve owned the very first version for years now and quite frankly, it’s still going strong. This more recent version seems to be heading the same way and will last me for years to come. Whenever I head out to the trails on my MTB, this is the one bit of kit I will always grab and take along with me. However, this 10 litre rucksack falls into a very competitive group, with offerings from all of the big rucksack manufacturers, as well as other alternatives from Camelbak, Haglöfs and Norrøna. However, Osprey’s distinctive design and look make this stand out from the crowd. A bunch of innovative, yet truly useful features ensure you get the most from the bag, and keep on riding.
+ Very well laid out – it’s clear that there has been a lot of thought going into the bag.
+ Lots of useable, decently sized pockets.
+ Excellent hydration reservoir – even if you’re not a fan, it does work very well.
+ Very versatile design, suitable for skiing, walking, general use as well MTBing.
+ Zips pockets on the hip belt, ideal for trail side snacks.
+ The Lid Lock system, carries your bike helmet securely, perfect for those pub stops!
+ Reflective detailing and light attachment point make sure you stay safe on the roads.
+ The W’s version (Raven) features a female fit and slightly more feminine colours!
– £85.00 is a lot of money for those who don’t want to be using a hydration reservoir.
– It seems to be constantly muddy but perhaps that might be my fault…?
Whenever, I think of deep, soft powder, I think of the Alps, Canada and Norway. Norrona ambassador, Andreas Wiig, recently took a trip to Japan to meet fellow ambassador, Yuta Watanabe and discovered a true winter wonderland. Deep powder everywhere you look… Snow covered trees and that magical silence you have when it starts to snow… Both riders were using the lastest range of Narvik clothing, ideal for backcountry freestyle – take a look at our range today:
Following on from our Hydrophobic Down post a few days ago, we thought we should review our favourite down jacket this winter – the Rab Inifinity Endurance Jacket! We haven’t got many left, so don’t miss out!
Christmas day started as it does every year, with a mad dash to the Christmas tree. A large, but very light parcel, addressed to me appeared beneath the other pressies. A familiar looking Rab logo emerged, followed by a bright green inner lining and at this point I realised what I was looking at – the new and updated Infinity Endurance Jacket from Rab (thank you Racheal!).
A few years ago, Rab released a very lightweight down jacket called the Infinity jacket (still available today). The following year, the Infinity Endurance jacket appeared in Rab’s winter workbook – a beefed up, more durable and probably for most people, more practical jacket. The down filling remains the same as the standard Infinity Jacket, with 210g of 850 fill power European goose down. This year, the down has had an extra special treatment – a Hydrophobic coating, which has been applied to the down at the washing/cleaning stage. This has been rolled out across all Rab down jackets this winter, with sleeping bags following suit next summer.
The differences to the standard Infinity Jacket appear on the outside. The standard jacket uses a Pertex Quantum GL – the lightest fabric Pertex make. The Infinity Endurance uses the same fabric, but, as the name suggests, one that has a Pertex Endurance coating. In reality, the standard fabric was strong and tough – but it never felt that way – I was always very conscious about using the jacket. The new endurance fabric is only 20% heavier at 30 g/m2, but it inspires a lot more confidence when you are wearing it. It comes with a hydrostatic head rating of 1000 mm, so can take a decent beating from the usual British weather. It still packs up very small into the stuff sac (included).
Being the middle of January, I had hoped that I would have been try it out in much colder, snowier conditions – but seeing that half of the UK is under water, I have had limited chances to test the jacket. However, the last couple of days have been cold and clear and it has been great to slip this jacket on in the morning. But, this is a warm jacket – and although I feel the cold, I have had to leave it in the wardrobe most of the winter. It is a shorter cut than other Rab jackets, meaning it is as nice to wear around town as it is to wear out in the mountains. One of my favourite features is the soft fleece chin guard – a really decent size. So many brands offer this, but to have one of this size is really great. The other massive improvement is the hood. Now this is a big thing for me, as a bad hood can wreck a jacket. Many have fallen at this hurdle, but Rab have pretty much got it spot on. A reassuringly thick wire peak top it off and had the hood had a little more in the way of volume adjustment, it would have been perfect.
My only major gripe about this jacket is the pockets. They are all present and correct, and where they should be, but the hand warmer pockets just aren’t big enough! Now, I don’t know if it is just me, but I cannot seem to fit my hands comfortably inside. They appear to taper off, meaning that whatever I have got inside my pockets (phone etc) cannot be comfortably removed – a minor flaw when you look at the jacket as a whole, but a really annoying one.
On the whole, this jacket is one of my all-time favourites. The cut is brilliant, the down is very high quality and has now been improved to be even more resistant than before. Fix those pockets and its perfect! If we ever get a ‘normal’ winter, this is the first jacket I’ll grab.