Rab Torque Review
Cons: Not as wet weather resistant, UK zippers can be awkward to use
Our Analysis and Test Results
A strong contender, the Rab Torque is often the benchmark that we compare other softshell jackets to during our testing, especially when it comes to performance on rock.
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 with no inner fleece. The material adequately stops wind on its own, though its effectiveness in a cold breeze is boosted with the use of a mid-weight layer worn underneath — no surprise there. The Torque 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 this softshell only held up to 20 seconds of strong precipitation during our shower test before wetting out.
One of the features we really like about this jacket is the wire insert in the brim of the hood, which allows the brim to be molded around a helmet, hat, or head to gain extra weather protection.
This jacket is one of the most breathable contenders in our review due to Rab's proprietary Matrix DWS fabric. By forgoing an inner liner, there is less material to soak up moisture that subsequently needs to be pushed through the outer layer. The Torque performs slightly better than some in keeping moisture out, but other fabrics do 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 is another area in which the Torque excels — this shell can move easily with the body in a range of motions. It is barely outmatched by other unlined jackets that use lighter softshell fabric with a stretch weave. Not only is the fabric of the Torque ultra-stretchy, but it is also cut with athletic movement in mind. The cut 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 of the Torque are articulated so that they bunch 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. However, the hem is a bit low and can pull up from under a harness while climbing. Users with a longer torso may wish to consider the next size up.
This highly capable layer only weighs 16.5 ounces for a medium. The low weight results from the thinner shell material and lack of inner lining. In warmer conditions with less need for base layers or at a lower elevation on the way to the high peaks, this jacket's lighter weight make it much more comfortable than heavier models. Just keep in mind that there is a correlation between weight and weather protection.
The Torque is a solid performer 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 cord locks. This is an important improvement in the most current model, and we find them easier to use than past iterations. The wrist closures secure easily with a Velcro cuff, fitting comfortably around or underneath gloves.
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 and a dual hem cords allow for a secure fit around the waist. There are only two pockets on this jacket, among the fewest of any model. This is a simple outer layer, yet we were never left wanting more while wearing it on the trips it's intended for.
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.
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 unlined, stretchy shell fabric, this layer moves with you, making it easier to focus on the demands of your objective.
— Ryan Huetter
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