The Rab Upslope is a well-constructed, high-performing softshell that we felt protected and happy wearing in all kinds of situations. With a generous fit that's easy to layer under and that never felt constrictive or uncomfortable, this is a jacket that's easy to love. It was the third most substantial piece in our review and, while we noticed its bulk from time to time, this mostly didn't bother us - especially if the wind got crazy or the temperature dipped. It wouldn't be our top choice for warmer days and super aerobic outings, but if you want a reliable and well-featured shell that's durable and will last for years to come, the Upslope is a fantastic pick.
Rab Upslope - Women's Review
Cons: On the heavier bulkier side, not the best water resistance, pricey
Our Analysis and Test Results
We loved the fit and feel of the Rab Upslope, especially when the weather got more serious. This is an excellent layer for high winds and lower temps, as its easy to layer under, the hood has fantastic coverage, and the six mesh-lined pockets (more than on any other jacket in our review) offer significantly added ventilation. The Upslope is heavier than others, but for snow and alpine hikes, ice climbing, skiing, and snowshoeing, this is a fabulous piece.
For the most part, the Upslope provided excellent weather protection, especially in high winds. When hiking through blowing snow and very low temperatures we didn't feel underdressed in the slightest - as long as we kept moving. In lower temperatures, we could feel a bit more cold sneaking through this layer if we didn't keep our heart rate up, but by and large, we were very pleased. Water resistance was also decent on the Upslope, though the waist and neck area seemed to allow moisture through faster than the rest of the jacket. Rab describes this shell as "optimized for ski mountaineering and alpine ascents," and we agree with that. For colder weather where the moisture is frozen, and you're on the move, this piece is excellent.
Some other top performers for weather protection that are worth reading about include our Top Pick for Warmth, the cozy Ascendant Hoody, the Arc'teryx Gamma MX Hoody, our two-time Editors' Choice winner, and the stiff but warm and protective Patagonia Adze Hoody.
This layer did quite well in the breathability department, especially considering the overall weight and heft of the material. It was decidedly more breathable than some of the fleece-lined windproof models in our review, like the Marmot Moblis, our Best Buy winner. On top of that, the Upslope has four mesh-lined pockets on the front - two on the chest and the two hand pockets. All of these pockets are well sized and provide excellent added ventilation when opened up.
We had a lot of good performances for this metric in our test group. In mild weather and warmer temps, we loved the well-tailored and durable Arc'teryx Gamma LT Hoody, our Top Pick for Rock Climbing, as well as the comfortable and thin - but also very durable - Ferrosi Crosstown Hoody, our Best Buy on a Tight Budget. For more inclement weather, the Arc'teryx Gamma MX and OR Ascendant Hoody were excellent, as was the Black Diamond Dawn Patrol.
Movement in the Upslope was decent, though we could feel the thickness and weight of the material more than with other thinner or stretchier models. But the overall construction had no problem allowing us to move, bend, and reach unencumbered. Our top performer in this category was the Dawn Patrol, constructed with four-way stretch material and underarm gussets. Both of the Arc'teryx models were also excellent in this category.
The Upslope weighed in at 22.3 ounces and was the third heaviest jacket in our review. The only heavier pieces were the wind and waterproof The North Face Apex Flex GTX at 24.7 ounces and the Patagonia Adze Hoody at 25.3 ounces. While the Upslope was only 2-3 ounces lighter than these two models, it felt considerably lighter in comparison due to the flexibility of its material. We felt the same way about the Black Diamond Dawn Patrol - it weighed in on the heavier side at 20.2 ounces, but the incredible stretch and mobility hid the weight brilliantly.
The lightest jacket in our review was the OR Ferrosi Crosstown Hoody at only 10.9 ounces; however, this piece wasn't warm or weather protective in the slightest. The OR scendant Hoody was the most impressive in this regard - weighing a mere 11.5 ounces, it managed to provide some of the best protection in our review and was our Top Pick for Warmth.
With a whopping six mesh-lined and zippered pockets (two hands, two chest, one sleeve, one internal), we felt like we won the feature lottery with this jacket, especially because the four pockets on the front aided so much in breathability. Outside of that, the features on the Upslope were pretty basic for an advanced softshell but were all executed well. It has a security clip in the chest pocket, a drawcord hem, nice wide adjustable velcro cuffs, and a two-way adjustable hood that fits a helmet. It also zips up nice and high in front to help cover and protect the face, and that area is lined with a soft fleece for comfort. All in all, we felt we had everything we needed and nothing we didn't.
A few other fun features in our test group that are worth mentioning: the Apex Flex is windproof and has pit zips, the BD Dawn Patrol had the stretchiest fabric and great pocket placement for climbers, and the simple $59 Charles River Axis had built-in handwarmers. The Ascendant Hoody also had the plushest, puffy-like fabric and thumb loops for a handwarmer-like effect.
While on the technical-looking side of things, we enjoyed the style of the Upslope. The fun contrasting mustard-yellow colored lining was fun, the tailoring is well done, and the ample hood and neck were both attractive and purposeful. This is an easy jacket to wear both up into the mountains and out to drinks with other outdoorsy folks.
Other notables included the fun sweatshirt-look of the OR Ferrosi Crosstown Hoody as well as the excellent fit and slim, clean lines of both Arc'teryx models, the Gamma MX and Gamma LT.
Due to the heft of this jacket, we think it's best suited for colder temperatures where wind and snow are possible. It's probably not the best pick if you plan to only use it in warm weather for highly aerobic activities like trail running, though the multitude of mesh-lined pockets do allow for some pretty stellar ventilation options. But all in all, we find the Upslope best for things like skinning and skiing, ice climbing, rock climbing in chillier temps, snow hiking, and alpine ascents.
Retailing for $265, this is a pricey jacket. It was the second most expensive piece in our review, topped only by the Gamma MX Hoody at $349. But for the right person, we think this is a fair price. If you are serious about being in the mountains during the fall, winter, and early spring, this is an excellent layer to purchase. Its classic style will stay current for years to come, and the strong wind resistant fabric will have no trouble keeping up.
The Rab Upslope was a joy to wear and adventure in. With tons of mesh-lined pockets, an excellent fit, generous, protective hood, adjustable cuffs, and stellar wind resistance, this is a fantastic jacket for a serious alpinist, mountaineer, or general cold weather adventurer. While it certainly can't replace a hardshell or rain jacket, as part of a comprehensive outdoor wardrobe, we feel this softshell is an asset in all respects. It's not the one to choose for tiny packs or overly warm temperatures, but for snow, ice, wind, and cold it's top notch.
— Penney Garrett