Rab Baltoro Guide - first impressions

So I caved today, after reading a couple of inspiring blog posts (The Journeyman Traveller Blog) I started to investigate the in's and outs of Rab Vapour rise softshells and convict myself of the definite need/requirement for one of these in my kit cupboard - which, for me, is never a hard thing to do!

However upon walking in to Cotswold Outdoors in Salisbury (which, I'd like to point out, is much more of a treasure trove of kit and advice than it first appears when walking through the door) and trying on the vapour rise jacket I wasn't 100% sure that it was what I actually needed to complement my outdoors wardrobe.

It's worth mentioning now that there were a couple of specific requirements that I had for this piece of kit;

  1. Warmth and breathability
  2. A hood!
  3. Water resistant (nothing really serious but enough to withstand a shower)
  4. Fit - it has to fit over a base layer and under my Crux Shox shell without affecting movement in any way

So as you can see it's not simply a new jacket that I'm after and the blogs mentioned above have steered me towards the Rab softshell(s) as they comfortably covered off the above points.

So, back to the review!  I was torn between looking for a Vapour rise pull-on and the Baltoro Guide jacket that I'd just tried on in Cotswold.  The fit (size L) and feel of the Baltoro jacket was, to me, much more "what I was looking for" than the Vapour Rise range.
So after some consideration and browsing of the map/book section in the shop I'd decided on the Baltoro Guide jacket and made my way to the till to cough up the cash - with my 20% Discount as a Scout Leader of course!

Now as this purchase was only made today (3rd September 2011) I can't give a full "working" review of the jacket and its performance just yet - hopefully that will be possible following next weekend's trip to Pen-y-Fan in the Brecon Beacons - but I can vouch for a number of things;
The fit (assuming you have the correct size, and its worth spending a bit of time on this one) is very good and ticks the box for me exactly.  The feel of the fabric (inside and out) gives me a certain confidence that the jacket is going to perform in the way that I need it to - another tick; and its warm, very warm!

So there we are, my layering "system" is pretty much complete and I'm happy that I have everything I need to brave the upcoming week long course in the Cairngorms with Talisman Mountaineering!

That doesn't mean however that I wont have any "need" for further items - that's the beauty of a hobby/obsession such as walking/mountaineering (or indeed anything that you have a passion for); testing, trying and pushing yourself and your kit is part of the fun and is what makes you come back again and again from those long, wet, windy walks with the anticipation of the next trip already taking seed in your mind!


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