/ Softshell descisions

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BallsOfSteel - on 16 Feb 2013
Hey Guys, been umming and aaahing about this for a while now, and just fancied a bit of advice, apologies for yet another thread about softshell choices! haha

I currently climb in a Rab VR smock and recently bought the VR Guide pants to replace the older ones Ive worn for ages, as they work great for me on the bottom half.

I'm looking to buy another top though, and was torn between the VR Guide Top and a polartec or similar softshell, like the Baltoro Guide. Can anyone guide me one way or another regarding this? is the Balotoro going to be warmer than a VR softshell? better for climbing?

Any advice appreciated.


The Ex-Engineer - on 16 Feb 2013
In reply to BallsOfSteel:
> is the Balotoro going to be warmer than a VR softshell?

I'd have thought exactly the reverse, but that's not based on first hand experience.

The two are completely different styles of softshell. The VR is a shelled micro-pile providing both insulation and weather resistance where as the Balotoro is a more mainstream softshell - essentially a windproof and water resistant jacket which will be worn over an insulating mid-layer in colder conditions.

If you are after the former, then the VR is one of only a few options, but if you want something in a similar vein to the Balotoro then there are dozens of options.
GridNorth - on 16 Feb 2013
In reply to BallsOfSteel: VRis not as water resistant as other softshells so, for example, if I am going ice climbing I reach for the Simond soft shell pants which at £39.99 are extremely good value for money. I find the Rab VR smock a bit baggy and the Rab VR trousers, although they have an excellent cut and good design, tend to leave you wet if you press against the ice. I don't look to the soft shell outer layer to provide too much in the way of insulation but VR is excellent as far as breathability is concerned.
captain paranoia - on 18 Feb 2013
In reply to BallsOfSteel:

> is the Baltoro going to be warmer than a VR softshell?

"The Baltoro Guide features contrast panels of hi-loft and mid weight grid backed panels"

Hi-loft PowerShield should provide thicker insulation than the micropile liner of the VR. So it ought to be warmer. Then we're into comparing the wind resistance of the two shell fabrics (which can have a significant effect on the warmth), plus the air gap in the VR, which adds a little to the insulation.

I'd compare the Baltoro Guide to my Pata Mixmaster, and I'd say that's warmer than the shelled micropiles I own, including the VR Trail.

As shelled micropiles go, the Equilibrium outer of the VR is less wind resistant than others that use more densely-woven microfibre variants of Pertex.

Now, just to confuse things further, Rab have been playing about with the VR range & names in the last few years; VR Trail (Equilibrium-shelled micropile) has become simply 'VR', and VR Climb (Equilibrium-shelled 100 weight fleece) seems to have become VR Guide (Equilibrium-shelled hi-loft fleece). I'd expect VR Guide to a little warmer than the Baltoro Guide; maybe Rab think so too, since they both have the 'Guide' name, and the design and features are very similar. The extra warmth will come from what appears to be exclusive use of hi-loft for the liner (as opposed to mixed leoft of the Baltoro), the thicker Equilibrium shell, and the air gap. Note the higher weight of the VR Guide: this gives you a thicker shell and thicker fleece.

Confusingly, if you read Rab's descriptions of the Baltoro Guide, and Baltoro Alpine, you get the impression that the Guide is warmer (all that stuff about the 'thick, furry fleece'), but, looking at the weights and my recollection of kit fondling, I'm pretty sure it's the Alpine that's warmer.

Of course, you could go for a fleece/windshirt layering system, giving you similar performance to the the VR Guide, but with added versatility... e.g. Rab Alpine jacket + a fleece of your choice (Rab Shadow or Logan hooded fleece or...?)

Softshell choices: damned tricky...
Styx - on 18 Feb 2013
I haven't tried any of the VR stuff but I will say that the Baltoro Guide is the best jacket I've ever had for Scottish winter, the cut is perfect for climbing, breathes well and still gives a great level of protection from the elements. Worn with just a base layer under it I found it to be ideal down to about -10.
MJH - on 18 Feb 2013
In reply to BallsOfSteel: I have a VR smock and a Baltoro Alpine - they are very different things IMHO.

The VR I would quite happily wear next to my skin or with a thin base layer - a modern version of pertex/pile but lighter weight.

The Baltoro is essentially a tight knit weave fleece which you need something underneath.

Both nice, but different.
colina - on 18 Feb 2013
In reply to BallsOfSteel:
personally I think soft shells are sh1t.theyre not warm ,they encourage sweat from the inside,don't "wick it out"and take ages to dry (did I say ages ....think 24 hours) ..worst decision I ever made in spending £100+ on a designer jacket..there must be something better out there....
colina - on 18 Feb 2013
In reply to colina:shd have said its a rab baltoro alpine
captain paranoia - on 18 Feb 2013
In reply to colina:

> theyre not warm ,they encourage sweat from the inside

warm enough to make you sweat, though...?

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