Extensively tested and reviewed by Cairngorm Treks throughout late summer through to early winter 2018/19 in the Cairngorms and surrounding mountainous areas.

The Rab Torque is said to be designed for summer alpine climbing and active mountain use, offering complete freedom of movement and breathability. We are big fans of the Torque Pants which are our ‘go-to’ choice for long days in the mountains where unrestricted movement, breathability, and comfort is of much importance, so we excited to try the jacket.

As with the Torque pants it’s great to see the same Matrix™ stretch double weave softshell fabric in use. This is the key area to what makes the Torque range excel in outdoor activities such as climbing, scrambling, mountain walking, mountain biking, where agility is paramount. Worn over a thin base layer it’s instantly noticeable that Rab have nailed this brief. The fit is tight, letting the Matrix fabric do the work by stretching in harmony with the body. Torso and arms have been slightly lengthened so when in full stretch there is no riding up which would otherwise result in exposure to bare skin. We found this to work particularly well in the west of Scotland where steep ascents and low-grade scrambling is common place within a majority of routes.

To prolong the life,the Torque adopts Ripstop Matrix™ stretch overlays on the elbows, hood, and waist. This is basically toughened fabric placed along key areas where close contact with rock and ice is likely, mitigating any annoying abrasions or holes.Two large napoleon pockets located on the chest offer a great amount of space for items that need to be stashed or accessed quickly and easily, including a full-size OS map and gloves. Cuffs work on a simple Velcro closure. This tried and tested design works great and offered a great hold whilst wearing gloves.

The hood is very generous in size, to the point that unless you are planning to be using head protection it would be wise to pull it tight, as otherwise with a slight gust of wind, it often ends up slumped across your shoulder. The hood is not lacking in features including a wired peak, concealed front cord locks, and also a rear tensioner. All of which are easy to use even whilst wearing gloves, which certainly helps on those blustery days we are accustomed to in the UK.

Weighing in at 480grams in a size medium means it isn’t one of lightest softshell jackets around but it’s certainly not going to weigh you down. In return you gain a jacket that’s made to last with the overall build being nothing short of excellent. Rab have left no area of the Torque feeling un-cared for. From the choice of materials, close stitching, zippers, through to the placement of pockets, each area is well thought out and implemented.

In terms of styling there’s not much debate that Rab have created a decent looking jacket. We received the Torque in a Beluga colour which is a kind of dark blue, a colour which doesn’t really match to the Beluga whale but looks great so no need to argue. There are two other colours available which will stand out more against the landscape in Dijon and Ink, so a great choice for all.

The Rab Torque is one of those pieces of clothing that will be worn throughout the entirety of a trip and won’t find itself stuffed into a backpack, instead working with any additional layers that may be placed on top.This winter has been quite a mild one so quite often we used the torque as part of our layering system. Breathability is excellent and it never feels clammy or heavy when working hard and the Matrix fabric mitigates any unwanted odour whilst worn over extended periods. The outer fabric is also very good at brushing away dirt.We found whilst scrambling against dirty rock and vegetation any dirt that would stick to the jacket would dry and simply fall away.

Wind resistance is very good and with a quick pull of the tensioners you can quickly protect yourself against accelerated gusts. Unfortunately, the Rab Torque isn’t without fault. Unless weather predictions are due to be favourable you will want to have waterproofs at easy access, as the Matrix fabric isn’t built to repel heavy precipitation. Water will soak in and although once saturated will dry out again with relative ease there are much better products on the market to deal with this issue.

Our Verdict

The Torque jacket and pants have become a favourite amongst our guides as they work perfectly for use in the Scottish Hills for active outdoor activities such as scrambling, climbing, and general mountain walking. Utilising the fantastic Matrix™ stretch double weave softshell fabric is what makes the Torque stand out against other softshell jackets. The fit is tight, letting the stretch of the fabric work with the body offering unrestricted movement and comfort. Breathability is no issue with the Rab Torque and worn over a number of days whilst on extended journeys you won’t be worried about standing up wind from the rest of the group. Wind resistance is very good although anything other than short bursts of light precipitation will require a waterproof layer to be added. The build, as usual from Rab, is well thought-out and we can see this being another big hitter across the outdoor community.

Cairngorm Treks is a small family business based in the picturesque village of Tomintoul in the North East region of the Cairngorms National Park. They provide bespoke Mountain Guiding for Single Day Walks and Lightweight Multiday Trekking experiences, including wild camping, in the stunning Cairngorms wilderness and surrounding areas. Whether in the high mountains or lower valleys, their Multiday Treks are equipped with high quality, lightweight camping and trekking gear. They only work with small groups and, whatever your ability, pride themselves on designing your outdoor experience completely to your needs and with professional guidance and expertise. Adventure is waiting...