Rab Baseline Hoodie – First Impressions

Nice deep chest zip for venting

My Rab Baseline Hoodie just arrived, courtesy of a bargain from Facewest.co.uk: advent calendar voucher discount, plus free Rab beanie, plus free delivery to France!

INITIAL VERDICT [for the impatient!]

A good copy of the classic Patagonia R1 Hoody, retaining all the important features and Polartec Powerdry fabric. Although lacking the same cult status, the Baseline is excellent value for money, at £75.00, and will probably be the most versatile of your layers.

[My final verdict can be found here]

Neat and elegant Rab embroidery

Like the rest of the climbing population, my eye had been on the Patagonia R1 Hoody for a long time. Partly, this was pure visceral desire (although this seasons colours are truly awful – lime green and bright orange) and partly because I recognised my need for a mid layer – the intense, sunny, yet cold, conditions in the High Atlas in August were beguiling, and necessitated the need for a thin, versatile layer over a t-shirt or baselayer. As soon as the wind picked up, it was distinctly chilly.

Until recently, the Patagonia R1 Hoody has been the best on the market – designed by mountaineers, tested by mountaineers, and universally liked for its versatility, breathability and minimal, yet useful, technical features. Interestingly, it was almost ditched by Patagonia, had it not been for cries of outrage from its sponsored athletes (see Andy Kirkpatrick’s article here).

However, it costs an arm and a leg, at £140.00.

In the last year, competition has appeared in the form of the Berghaus Smoulder Hoodie, Montane Fury Jacket (I think) and Rab Shadow Hoodie, which are essentially copies of a classic design. Since the price of the R1 Hoody was ultimately prohibitive for me, I took my chances with Facewest.co.uk and went for the Rab version, and here are some first thoughts before it goes to North Africa with me.

Thumb loop

FIT

Rab fit can be a bit weird, since it aims at the small niche market of (generally) slim and athletic mountaineers. So, if Paramo is your fit, you may well not do so well with Rab. I plumped for the medium, wanting a snug fit without excess baggy material, and for my tall, slim frame the Baseline hugs the stomach and is not too tight over the chest and armpits.

Like most Rab products, the arm length is generous for reachy moves when climbing, but also gives added wrist protection when combined with the thumb loops. The hood was good on first try – close fitting without restricting vision or leaving any gaping holes around the neck. It also differs from the R1 Hoodie in that the zip is straight down the middle of the chest, rather than veering to one side at the top. The beardguard though on the Baseline seems to sidestep that particular feature.

Beard guard

AESTHETICS

Looks aren’t everything, but the dark lead of the Baseline is definitely an improvement on the R1 Hoody lemon lime and mango (and black, to be fair). I try to avoid black these days, as I find all my kit is black, which is just a bit monotonous and boring, and I feel reflects the lack of daring of British manufacturers, who play it safe. In any case, the dark grey or graphite of the Baseline is demure and understated without completely losing all its character. The zip detailing, Polartec tabs and Rab-Polartec embroidery also provide a little bit extra to look at, if you are really bored.

TECHNICAL

The beauty of the design is that it strips back all the unnecessary features without losing the best or most important ones.

Predominantly, this is to do with the choice of fabric, Polartec Powerdry, and its particular utilisation. The back of the fabric is woven with a grid pattern (on the Baseline, only on the reverse, but can be seen on the interior and exterior of the R1 Hoody). This essentially wicks away moisture more effectively and the insulating properties of the fleece material give warmth at the same time. So, you can see that the grid Powerdry provides quite a versatile mix of properties.

The integrated hoodie is thin enough to be layered beneath a helmet and thumb loops against ingress of snow and cold air to the wrists. As mentioned above, the long sleeves aid with stretchy climbing arm movements above the head etc.

On zips, the main zip is nice and deep to allow for venting and the Napoleon zip to its left is quaint, but is not really big enough for much apart from keys or an A6 mapcase – I would never carry my keys there, but a small mapcase would definitely be deposited in that pocket for quick access.

VERDICT

As I have yet to deploy the Baseline in anger, the full verdict will be postponed. However, on first impressions it looks very promising. More to follow.

Facewest.co.uk were kind enough to throw in a free beanie as well!

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2 Responses to Rab Baseline Hoodie – First Impressions

  1. Pingback: Rab Baseline Hoodie – Verdict « When Men and Mountains Meet

  2. Pingback: Mammut Base Jump Advanced Pant – First Impressions « When Men and Mountains Meet

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