Looking to get a softshell that breathes well and is also resistant to a bit of water for when you get caught out.
Narrowed it down to these 3
Rab Kinetic Alpine 2.0
Arcteryx Gamma LT
Mountain Equipment Vulcan
Can't find a lot of reviews on the vulcan, but i tried one on and its really well made, just be interesting to see how it compares to others.
Also interested in this, I am leaning towards the Vulcan having tried it on; its just very expensive.
I have had a North Face Apex for 14 years which is falling apart now.....tried a new Apex on but didn't like the fit/feel.
I have the Rab...
Used as a windproof over a thin fleece and also as a waterproof with just a T-shirt under.. and varying mixtures of the two!
I do really like it.. Its very lightweight, not noisy like a Gore-Tex shell, and a very good fit for me.
Great hood, ideal if over the top of a helmet.
I do suffer with over heating sometimes and usually prefer jackets with pit zips but this has coped well with my temeperature control.
Had two days out where it rained the entire time -no problems with it.. nice and dry inside.
I've just been through a similar search and ended up with the Montane Element, it just seemed to fit me better then the others.
I haven't tested it in grim conditions yet though.
> Rab Kinetic Alpine 2.0
After experience with Rab's previous generation of "new breathable waterproof miracle fabric" a few years back, I'd be highly sceptical and wait a bit until the durability becomes clear. Neoshell, as the previous stuff was called, worked great for a year or so - then the rain just started to pour straight through
I love anything Schoeller:
Men's Alpine Start Hoody | Black Diamond® Climbing Gear (blackdiamondequipment.com)
I always think that buying a windproof and a grid fleece is a much cheaper and more versatile combination to a "softshell".
I use a ME Echo, probably my most used bit of kit. I find softshell generally to warm to wear whilst active (unless it's properly cold) and too heavy to carry.
I have an older Rab Alpha Flux Hoody, and a Rab Borealis jacket. I use the Borealis in warmer months, and the Alpha flux when it gets cooler.
I am a big believer in multi use layers, so would use them while hill walking or climbing. Then stick a hard shell on in the rain and a down jacket on when stood belaying / lunch stops etc. and alternate the warmth of your base layer accordingly.
I know it’s not relative to the items you mentioned, but hope it helps.
One of the issues here is that what many people consider to be 'softshell' is 'windproof stretchy outer with bonded fleece (sometimes even membraned) backer'. This is just one very tiny subgenre of softshell, one that has become harder and harder to find on the market as hardshells have become more stretchy and breathable in the last couple of years - as Rab Kinetic and for example The North Face FutureLight and Fjällräven Eco-Shells demonstrate.
Stretchy windbreaker is just another subgenre of softshell, in most cases indeed far superior to the old school windstopper fleece softshell.
With regards to OP's question, I have no experience with any of the jackets you mentioned but I love the Rab Torque jacket for anything in wind and a shower here and there. Feels good, fit is nice and athletic with just enough layering space for one thin puffy, helmet hood is great and pockets are big enough for serious gloves. Also, the reinforcements are well placed for the ruff stuff. It is very similar in feel to the Gamma LT actually, although that one seems to be a bit cleaner in design.
My wife has the Vulcan from ME. It is quite heavy but the build is heavy duty. The hood is large enough for a helmet so I'd say it's aimed more at the colder scrambler/easy winter solo's. It copes well with abrasion, the pit zips keep it cool on the move and she tends to use it rather than a belay jacket unless we are pitching winter climbs. It's a great jacket for heavy use if you want something that will last. I've got an old ME G2 jacket with the plastic bag hood that is geared more towards hiking and personally I think I prefer that.
The Kinetic is made from Proflex – you are referring to another jacket perhaps.
OP - I have the old Kinetic 1.0 and its my go to jacket for 99% of activities unless its scottish winter / minging rain.. Cant beat the stretch fabric for comfort, and the breathability if you are like me and work up a sweat very easily.
> After experience with Rab's previous generation of "new breathable waterproof miracle fabric" a few years back, I'd be highly sceptical and wait a bit until the durability becomes clear.
I reviewed the original Kinetic Alpine in 2019 and its update - the Kinetic Alpine 2.0 - earlier this year and would happily vouch for their durability. I've given both a lot of hard use, particularly the original (which is still going strong), although the newer version is definitely a significant step up in terms of durability. Here's a link to the reviews:
It's also worth mentioning that soft though they are, the Kinetic Alpine is technically a hard shell (i.e. it's waterproof, not water resistant).