Xenon  Jacket

A bright shinny jewel designed to slip on easily and quickly to keep you warm as you wait for your partner to join you at the belay. Extremely light at 340g/12oz it packs down to less than a 5” ball(12 1/2cm), if put in a stuff sack. You won’t know it's clipped to your harness until of course you grow cold sat in the wind at the top of the crag and remember.

Despite its apparent small size the hood does fit over a helmet. The elasticated openings bring a welcome non-faff approach to pulling on an extra layer. Apart from pulling the hood over and zipping up there is nothing else to adjust.

It's taken over from my Rab Generator Pull-on this year, with ice climbing in Europe and multi pitch trad in North Wales. One word of caution-if you forget to take it off as you start up the next pitch particularly if it's an off width crack you’ll find it’s a slippery little number. No I didn’t fall out just bought some mirth to my belayer as I demonstrated a no hands technique to staying in the crack whilst stripping. To be fair the rucksack had to come off as well.

The Xenon jacket is made from the lightest Pertex Quantum GL fabric and insulated with Primaloft synthetic fill. It’s a full-length garment with full-length zip, a chest pocket and two hand warmer pockets and is suitable for use as a light-weight belay jacket or warming layer.

John Inkpen

Latok Alpine Pant

I wore a pair of these Latok Alpine Pants for a week of ice climbing in Cogne generally speaking found them to be very good for what they are - lightweight shell trousers. They are made of eVent, have full to 3/4 length side legs zips, reinforced crampon patches on the side of the legs, articulated knees and elasticated waist with belt loops. The pair I've got are medium and having quite big thighs was initially concerned about the amount of flexibility I'd have in the legs but the articulated knees give a very full range of movement and doing high step ups never felt restricted. (Wearing man made fibre leggings underneath certainly helps flexibility). In terms of movement I think the cut of them is good. I always wore them with a belt but there are brace attachments on the inside of the trousers if you wanted to use them.

These Alpine pants are lightweight: There isn't a bib or particularly high waist on them, no built in gaiter (there is an elasiticated hem), the material is not that heavyweight and there are no pockets. However, I think the design Rab have gone for with these is to strip away everything they could to get the weight down and within this design consideration have done well leaving a garment that is still weather proof. There were days when water was running down the climbs or dripping on us and my legs never got wet. (I've had numerous Gore-Tex jackets and trousers and have found things never quite matched the hype so I'm now on a run of eVent garments and have found the material to be just as good a Gore-Tex, may be slightly better in humid conditions, as it appears to me to be more breathable). I never felt I was too sweaty but found the side zips excellent during the walk-in & outs.

If you want a pair of overtrousers for the worst conditions Scotland can offer, I think these trousers are bit lightweight (you might want something with a bib and a bit heavier material especially if you're going to have a lot of contact with rock) but I think for continent ice fall climbing; Scottish gullies in friendly weather; a hard mixed route where weight is more of a consideration than the lifetime of the gear or just plain old winter walking these overtrousers will fit the bill very well.

Elved Roberts

Alpine Glove

Winter climbing gloves are notoriously difficult to get right. The holy grail is the balance between warmth and dexterity, whilst also taking into account durability and value. These gloves are aimed at Alpine routes and water ice climbing. The fit of the glove (in a medium for my hand) was instantly comfortable and there was a good freedom of movement. I thought that this would likely improve further with wear, as the leather palm began to be 'worn in'. I also felt confident that one handed operations such as screw placement and clipping would be no problem.

My first experience of using the gloves in anger was in the Cogne area in Italy's Gran Paridiso National Park. The temperature during our visit to the area was relatively mild, so I was confident that the gloves would be adequate in terms of warmth, even without the addition of any silk liners. With axes in hand, I felt a good 'connection' with the tools, and tying knots and handling gear provided no issues. I also liked the velcro closure system which is neat and sits under your jacket sleeve well.

Our chosen route to kick off on was a 200m+ grade WI 6 route called Repentance Super. The line looked in reasonable condition, but due to the mild temperatures, rather 'wet' in places. Because of this I climbed with a second pair of my usual favourite fleece windstopper climbing gloves as a backup, and for comparison. Setting off in the Rab gloves they climbed well, with no problems placing gear and working with the rope. The grip of the palm was good on the tools, although they did loose a degree of ultimate sensitivity over my usual windstopper gloves. When we reached some of the wetter sections the gloves obviously took on some water not being waterproof. This led to cold hands at belays, but was not an issue whilst moving again, and they did seem to dry relativly well.

During crux sections of the route, I did find myself changing into my windstopper gloves. This was perhaps due to the psycological lift of dry gloves for hard sections, but I also welcomed the extra sensitivity of the fleece for the really hard moves.

At the end of the day there was a startling amount of red dye on my hands from the leather getting wet and being gripped. This is to be expected and I imagine will become less an issue in time.

I continued climbing in the gloves for the remainder of the week and generally found the Rab gloves to be excellent.

My second chance to put the gloves though their paces was in Rujkan, Norway. Here the temperatures were comparable to Italy, so the warmth of the gloves was not going to be an issue. We tackled more of the harder single pitch routes in the area, as well as some of the mixed offerings up to grade M7. On the mixed lines the sensitivity of the gloves was good and you could just forget you had them on (a good thing!). The gloves performed well all week, and showed no signs of wear by the end. This cannot always be said for fleece type gloves which can often be destroyed by the end of a good trip.

Although I may personally prefer a thiner fleece glove for harder climbing, these Rab gloves have nearly the same levels of dexterity, but are generally warmer and far more durable. This fact also means that the RRP represents really good value for money too. These gloves would be perfect for long Alpine days out over mixed terrain, and usable right though the year.

Pros

-Dexterity

- Relative warmth for weight

- Durability

- Good cuff closure system

- Fast drying

Cons

- Loss of a little sensitivity over some fleece type glove

- Red dye from leather

Colin Peck