The number of layering combinations for Scottish winter climbing can be as varied as the conditions you’ll encounter when you’re there. Add in personal preference and there’s a whole host of clothing pieces that can come in to play; waterproof shells, active insulation and belay specific jackets to name but a few.
Key however, is your ability to be flexible with your layering system and manage moisture whilst on the hill; conditions can change in an instant and whilst you’re active you’ll be kicking out a fair bit of heat. With this in mind, we’ve pulled together a selection of pieces from our men’s and women’s ranges which are suitable for Scottish winter climbing, splitting these down into the layers you need.
A waterproof shell provides your first defence against the conditions encountered in a Scottish winter. This layer needs to be tough and durable, able to withstand the scrapes and scuffs against ice and rock, but also breathable, allowing you to manage moisture whilst on the move.
Belaying can be a cold and lonely business, so it’s important to make sure you insulate yourself whilst you’re relatively inactive. Our belay applicable jackets do just that. The Photon X is our definitive winter belay jacket, filled with Primaloft Gold synthetic insulation, varied in thickness in different zones of the jacket for functionality and weight. If packability is an issue then our Neutrino Endurance and Electron jackets will take up minimal room in your pack and keep you toasty at the base of the route. If you run hot then take a look at the Xenon-X jacket, a Primaloft insulated jacket boasting high levels of breathability and a slim fit.
Underneath your outer shell you’ll need a layer that can move moisture away from your body, be highly breathable and also provide a level of insulation to keep you warm at the same time. Active insulation garments generally consist of two layers; an outer that acts as a breathable wind resistant layer and an attached drop liner, typically a technical fleece, which wicks moisture away from the body, allowing this moisture to escape and evaporate. We have two main technologies available in our range, Rab Vapour-Rise® and Polartec Alpha®, both available in a variety of weights and colourways.
Dependent on conditions, you might also want to wear a fleece between an active insulation mid-layer and your Merino baselayer. Below is a selection of pieces from our range that will do just the trick, from heavyweight to lightweight.
As your first layer of clothing, baselayers are arguably the most important factor when it comes to regulating your body’s temperature. Rab’s Merino baselayers are perfectly suited to Scottish winter climbing, featuring a careful blend of superfine merino wool fibres with a small amount of synthetic fibres, in two weights; 160g and 120g. This combination affords not only the benefits of merino wool; warmth, breathability and odour control, but also the benefits of synthetic fibres; increased durability and fast dry times.
Legwear for Scottish winter climbing needs to be warm, lightweight and windproof whilst providing the user excellent freedom of movement. They also need to be durable, strong enough to withstand scuffs on ice and rock and with reinforced ankle patches to protect from the abuse of crampons.
Personal preference comes in to play a lot when discussing gloves. Some prefer a heavier, thicker glove, sacrificing dexterity for warmth and durability. Conversely, dexterity and feeling may well be another climber’s number one priority; getting cold fingers might be a sacrifice worth making to reach that next grade. Mitts may be useful for topping-out or extended inactivity at the base of the route, whilst liner or minimal gloves are great for the walk in or for those of us who feel the cold more than most!
Though most of us don’t want to think about it, the worst can happen when you’re in such extreme environments, so you should always pack safety equipment for this eventuality. Our Superlight Shelters, for either 2 or 4 persons, take up minimal room in your pack and provide a surprising level of shelter from even the worst storms, whilst the ARK Emergency Bivi could be a life-saver if things turn sour.