RAB Vapour-Rise Guide Pants Reviewed

Text by: Jason Nugent

Hiking & Trekking, Rab. RAB Vapour-Rise Guide Pants Reviewed

Pants are deceptively complicated. In the warmer months, the obvious options include lighter weight materials, pants with lots of zip openings for ventilation, pants that zip off into shorts, or even just shorts all the time, if that’s your thing. When things get colder, or wet, or both, what happens then? Do you opt for heavier fabrics? Your regular summer pants with a long baselayer under them, and a rain layer on top?  Do you dare try to wear three layers without your legs feeling like a pogo corndog?

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Our review of this product

The pros are:

  • Comfortable, soft and lightweight for winter weight pants
  • Side vents actually do make a difference
  • Very water repellent

The cons are:

  • One more pocket would be nice
  • Definitely not summer hiking pants

Enter the RAB Vapour Rise Guide Pant. I’ve been a huge fan of RAB products for a few years now because they understand how to make functional gear that works extremely well in cold and wet environments.  Based in the UK, RAB develops products that need to work well in their own backyard.

When I read that the pants were considered “winter weight” I expected that they would be heavier than they actually are.  I was quite surprised at how light they felt when I first picked them up, especially compared to some other non-insulated pants I own, like the Fjallraven Keb, which weighs about the same. The material is very soft, and when worn next to skin they are very comfortable.  They flow well and do not feel constricting when I move around in them.

On pretty much the first day I wore them, it rained, hard.  I fought my instinct to pull on a pair of waterproof overpants and instead spent hours out in the rain, wearing just the Vapour Rise pants.  I was surprised at how well I stayed dry; water beaded on the surface, and there were only brief moments where I thought I was feeling a bit of moisture getting through. When I finally returned home after several hours, I was nearly completely dry.  I attribute any dampness to the fact that I was wearing insulated hiking pants in warmer conditions and was probably sweating a bit.

The pants come with zippered vents that can be opened to dump heat.  They do not open to the point where you are completely exposed, however, in contrast again to pants like the Fjallraven Keb.  They also have zippers at the bottom that unzip to slightly expand the boot opening. This opening is there to allow fitting the pants over larger boots and includes eyelets on either side of your foot to accommodate a cord of some sort to make the pants act as a gaiter.  This was a very welcome feature. I also appreciated the kick patches – I wear microspikes and crampons a lot in the winter, and I welcome this feature because it really cuts down on wear and tear.  Pretty much every single pair of pants I own have holes on the inside bottom of the legs.

If I had any recommendations, I’d ask for one more thigh pocket, or perhaps a utility pocket for a knife.  And really, that’s it.  These pants are awesome.  When combined with a pair of truly waterproof overpants, like the Rab Downpour pants, the combination is pretty much bombproof.  These will be my daily hiking pants when the mercury drops this Fall.

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