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Rab Torque Review

The Torque easily wins our Top Pick Award for Climbing with its well thought out designs that appeal to both summer and winter climbers and mountaineers.
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $200 List | $149.98 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Trim fit, abrasion resistant material, harness and helmet friendly
Cons:  Not as wet weather resistant, UK zippers can be awkward to use
Manufacturer:   Rab
By Ryan Huetter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 20, 2018
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72
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 13
  • Weather Protection - 30% 4
  • Breathability - 30% 9
  • Mobility - 20% 9
  • Weight - 10% 8
  • Features - 5% 6
  • Style - 5% 7

Our Verdict

The Rab Torque is an excellent softshell jacket for climbing and other mountain activities. Designed to be capable in alpine environments, the Torque is a trim-fitting garment that eliminates unnecessary features in favor of functionality. Best used on summertime routes such as the West Ridge of Forbidden Peak or the East Face of Mount Whitney, this jacket excels in rough terrain thanks to its durable fabric in high wear areas like the elbows. It's best when precipitation is unlikely; it breathes very well but does not repel water as well as other models.


Compare to Similar Products

 
This Product
Rab Torque
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award  Best Buy Award  
Price $149.98 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$249.00 at Backcountry
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$119.95 at Amazon$59.95 at Amazon
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$219.93 at Backcountry
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Pros Trim fit, abrasion resistant material, harness and helmet friendlyDurable fabric, great fit, all-around usefulnessGreat for general use, lightweight, weather resistantInexpensive, great breathability, stretchyWaterproof, lightweight, breathable
Cons Not as wet weather resistant, UK zippers can be awkward to useLimited water resistance, fitted cuffsCuffs not adjustable, no hood drawstringsLimited weather protectionExpensive, large fit
Bottom Line The Torque easily wins our Top Pick Award for Climbing with its well thought out designs that appeal to both summer and winter climbers and mountaineers.This is a great medium weight softshell jacket that will hold up to rugged use thanks to its durable fabric.A lightweight and weather resistant softshell that offers top performance for a wide range of applications.For summertime rock climbing where cool winds and rough surfaces are expected.This hybrid hardshell-softshell offers excellent weather protection for harsh alpine conditions, making it a great choice for alpine climbers and backcountry skiers.
Rating Categories Rab Torque Arc'teryx Gamma LT Hoody Arc'teryx Tenquille Hoody Ferrosi Hooded Patagonia Galvanized
Weather Protection (30%)
10
0
4
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
3
10
0
10
Breathability (30%)
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
5
Mobility (20%)
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
10
10
0
6
Weight (10%)
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
7
Features (5%)
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
0
4
10
0
6
10
0
8
Style (5%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
5
10
0
7
10
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8
Specs Rab Torque Arc'teryx Gamma LT... Arc'teryx... Ferrosi Hooded Patagonia Galvanized
Type Stretch woven Stretch woven Stretch woven Stretch Woven Waterproof stretch woven
Weight (size medium) 1.03 lbs 1.06 lbs 0.65 lbs 0.8 lbs 1.1 lbs
Material Ripstop Matrix Wee Burly (56% nylon, 34% polyester, 10% elastane) Kauss polyester Body and hood: 86% nylon, 14% spandex 90D stretch woven ripstop
Shoulders and lower sleeves: Cordura® 91% nylon, 9% spandex 120D stretch weave
H2No® Performance Standard shell: 3-layer, 4.4-oz 50-denier 88% polyester/12% spandex
Number of Pockets 3 3 2 3 3
Hood Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Adjustable Cuffs Yes, Velcro Stretch cuffs Stretch cuffs Stretch cuffs Yes, Velcro

Our Analysis and Test Results

A top scorer in almost every metric, the Rab Torque was often the benchmark that we compared other softshell jackets to during our review, especially when it came to on the rock performance. Other contenders performed better in some metrics, and as well in others, but overall our experiences wearing the Torque allow us to recommend it as the Top Pick for Climbing.

This year the Rab Torque has been updated, and while nothing has been changed dramatically, there have been a number of improvements that take care of issues that the previous model had. Read on to find out why this year's Torque is even better.

Performance Comparison


The Rab Torque is a great choice for summer mountaineering and other mountain sports.
The Rab Torque is a great choice for summer mountaineering and other mountain sports.

Weather Protection


The Torque uses a lighter weight Matrix DWS material in the body — a stretch woven fabric that is 88 percent nylon and 12 percent spandex. An inner fleece does not back this material, and so it is more similar to the lightweight Outdoor Research Ferrosi than the heavier duty Arc'teryx Gamma MX. The material adequately stops wind on its own, though its effectiveness in a cold breeze is boosted through the use of a mid-weight layer worn underneath, like the Patagonia R1. The jacket also has a number of seams that provide a trim and tailored fit, though these seams are unsealed and thus make the fabric more vulnerable to moisture. The Matrix material is great for mostly dry conditions where winds and cold precipitation (snow) is expected, but the Torque only held up to 20 seconds of strong precipitation during our shower test before wetting out.


One of the features we liked about this jacket was the wire insert in the brim of the hood, which allowed us to mold the brim around our helmet, hat or head, and gain extra weather protection. The overall water resistance of the Torque was put into question during our ultimate shower test, though a downpour like that would have us reaching for our hardshell jackets.

The chink in the Torque's armor: it does not hold up well to wet weather.
The chink in the Torque's armor: it does not hold up well to wet weather.

Breathability


The Torque is tied as the second most breathable jacket in our review with the Arc'teryx Tenquille, with only the minimalist OR Ferrosi ahead of it. Rab's proprietary Matrix DWS fabric is the reason this jacket breathes so well. By forgoing an inner liner, there is less material to soak up moisture that then needs to be pushed through the outer layer.


The Torque performed slightly better than the Gamma MX in allowing moisture out, but the Fortius 2.0 used by Arc'teryx did a better job of water resistance in wet conditions. Although we cherish breathability in our softshell jackets, do consider your environment and climate as well.

This highly breathable jacket keeps you from overheating and getting wet from perspiration during athletic activity.
This highly breathable jacket keeps you from overheating and getting wet from perspiration during athletic activity.

Mobility


Another metric in which the Torque excelled, we awarded this jacket a 9 out of 10 for its ability to move with the body in a range of motions. It was barely outmatched by the Ferrosi, another unlined jacket that uses lighter softshell fabric with a stretch weave. Not only is the fabric itself ultra-stretchy, much more so than the stiff feeling bulky material used on The North Face Apex Bionic 2, but it is cut with athletic movement in mind. The cut of this jacket does run slightly small, however, so if you often find yourself between sizes or wish to wear layers underneath then consider trying a size up.


The elbows are articulated so that the jacket bunches up less when making climbing moves, and the torso is fitted so that there is less unnecessary bulky fabric in the way. While grabbing a climbing hold high above the head or swinging an ice tool, we did not experience any cuff drop, thanks to effective and secure wrist closures. The hem is a bit low on this jacket, similar to the Gamma MX, and pulled up from under our harness often while climbing. Users with a longer torso may wish to consider the next size up. The more extended cut of the Patagonia Galvanized offers more mobility and could be a better choice for when the weather is abysmal. We are not keen on getting snow up our backs!

The summit block of Thunderbolt Peak requires lots of mobility (and a good deal of friction).
The summit block of Thunderbolt Peak requires lots of mobility (and a good deal of friction).

Weight


We weighed the Torque on our scale and were surprised to have such a capable jacket weigh only one pound. The low weight of this jacket results from the thinner shell material and lack of inner lining, and we have noticed that weather protection and weight often go hand in hand. In warmer conditions with less need for base layers, or at lower elevation on the way to the high peaks, this jacket's lighter weight made it much more comfortable than heavier models like the Patagonia Adze or the Black Diamond Dawn Patrol.


Features


The Torque was among the top performers in this metric. It is a relatively simple jacket from a first impression, having only chest pockets and no handwarmer pockets, as well as an absence of any interior pockets. The features which the Torque does employ are useful and utilitarian. The helmet compatible hood has a three-way closure system, complete with hidden cordlocks. This is an important improvement in this year's model, and we found them easier to use. The wrist closures secure easily with a Velcro cuff, fitting comfortably around gloves.

The cuffs fit well over light gloves and easily pack underneath gauntlet-style gloves if the weather is colder.
The cuffs fit well over light gloves and easily pack underneath gauntlet-style gloves if the weather is colder.


Areas of high wear like the head and elbows are given a Ripstop Matrix fabric, which provides users with more confidence in scuffing their way up corners and chimneys on alpine objectives. There are but two pockets on this jacket, among the fewest of any model. This is a simple outer layer, and we were never left wanting more while wearing it on the trips it's intended for. This edition does away with the previous two-way zipper, which shaves a bit of unneeded weight off. Two-way zippers to accommodate a belay loop are great for layers like a puffy, but the Torque is meant to be worn tucked underneath a harness, and the dual hem cords allow for a secure fit around the waist.

We were happy to see the hood closure receive a covering  improving the weather protection and keeping the cord lock from snagging.
We were happy to see the hood closure receive a covering, improving the weather protection and keeping the cord lock from snagging.

Style


With durable patches on the elbows, duo-tone coloring and offset colored zippers, the Torque looks like a climber's jacket. It is currently available in three colors, including more subtle color options than the yellow we tested, which may help to hide dirt and grime.


A bright jacket can be a good thing if you're on the mountain. The Arc'teryx Gamma MX might have done a better job at blending mountain performance with casual looks, but we will still prefer to take the Rab jacket when heading out to climb.

Be safe  be seen is a mantra for clothing in the mountains  and it's a bonus when the bright colors look good  too!
Be safe, be seen is a mantra for clothing in the mountains, and it's a bonus when the bright colors look good, too!

Best Applications


The Torque jacket is an excellent softshell jacket in spring, summer and fall conditions, and can be a great choice even in winter conditions, as long as it is snowing, not raining. There were some issues with water resistance while testing this jacket, but its above-average mobility, breathability, and features led us to recommend it as our Top Pick for Climbing.

Lightweight  durable  highly mobile  and with well-thought-out features  this jacket is at home in the mountains.
Lightweight, durable, highly mobile, and with well-thought-out features, this jacket is at home in the mountains.

Value


With an MSRP of $200, the Torque is on the more expensive side, given that it is unlined and less weather resistant than others. That said, it is a niche garment and does what it is supposed to very well. Those on a tighter budget also should look at the Best Bang for Buck winning Outdoor Research Ferrosi which is another great choice for summertime alpine pursuits.

Conclusion


If you are looking for a durable, wind resistant softshell jacket that is at home high on the rocky crags, then the Rab Torque could be the jacket for you. With an unlined, stretchy shell fabric, the Torque moves with you, making it easier to focus on the demands of your route.


Ryan Huetter