Rab’s Vapour Rise collection has a strong reputation that has been a mainstay amongst the outdoor community for many years now. Three new Vapour Rise jackets have been recently introduced with us receiving the middle weight option, the VR Alpine Light Jacket. Rab state that "our VR Alpine Light Jacket’s approach to insulation is built on two years of applied field testing with the Association of Mountaineering Instructors. Warm, dry and uniquely versatile, it is an all-weather mountain layer you need never take off." This certainly grabbed our attention as we looked to use the VR Alpine Light over the upcoming Autumn and Winter months in the Scottish Highlands.

The VR Alpine Light is classed as a lightweight softshell jacket which features a Pertex Quantum Air outer fabric with a combination of VR Wicking and VR Airflow polyester linings. Rab says this combination "creates a thermoregulating 'microclimate' between the layers, which keeps the wearer warm as well as dry." The two distinct linings are positioned in key areas around the body to maximise breathability and insulation, although we found the VR Alpine Light is certainly aimed more towards wicking away moisture than providing warmth. This worked perfectly for us when placed over a simple base layer as the VR Alpine Light always maintained a comfortable temperature without overheating whilst working hard on tough steep ascents. Breathability after all is the main reason for choosing Vapour Rise with staying dry on the inside of your clothing particularly important especially as the winter months arrive. So too is continuing to work as part of a larger laying system as protection against the elements is not its strongest point. Light to moderate wind speeds are no issue and on cold crisp clear days the VR Alpine Light is a joy to use as stand alone outer layer. The moment snow or moderate showers arrive it’s time to place another layer on top as rainfall will quickly penetrate to layers beneath. Fortunately for us, whilst the weather deteriorated, opening the underarm zippers on our waterproof shell meant the high wicking action continued to impress with Rab’s claim about this being an all-weather layer you would never need to take off ringing true for us.

You can usually tell if an item of clothing is truly breathable as on extended expeditions your tent buddy will be sure to let you know. Odour control is particularly good and a great choice of garment for multiple days covering high activity work.

Weighing in at 306 grams in a size medium the VR Alpine Light certainly stands up to its title and also packs down small. Although this jacket didn’t spend much time in our packs as the overall comfort, slightly relaxed fit, and generous length in the arms and back, had us wanting to wear it for most activities. The build is solid with decent stitching and for a lightweight jacket its surprisingly robust compared to its appearance.

The pocket placement for us is perfect. Two high chest pockets that are easily accessible whilst wearing a rucksack or harness and plenty of room inside to fit a map and compass, gloves, or stash some food items. The hood has a short wired peak, but there's just a basic Velcro adjustment at the rear so don’t expect much of a hold, rather keeping a slight chill off our head in moderate winds. The hood is not helmet compatible but due to the lightweight fabric it fits comfortable underneath.

Styling as always from Rab make for a jacket that will sell for its looks alone. The Deep Ink/Ink is divided into bold panels, although we do have to say this is a jacket in which performance is at the fore front with the VR Alpine Light fitting into a multitude of activities from walks with the dog to high mountain adventures.

Our Verdict

You hear the words Vapour Rise and you instantly think of a garment that is going to keep you dry when working hard in the outdoors. The VR Alpine Light follows on from this reputation perfectly and became a favourite item of ours over the past 8 months. Breathability is certainly what Rab have aimed for over much insulating properties, and this is our preferred option. Working in harmony as part of a larger layering system over the colder months offering comfort and whilst also regulating body warmth. Although we didn’t use the VR Alpine Light throughout the summer months we could see it fitting perfectly for taking away an evening chill with its small size tucking away neatly into our pack.

Trek Scotland 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...