The Rab Baltoro Alpine jacket is a mid-weight softshell aimed primarily towards alpine climbers. In mixed conditions, we headed to the snow capped Ceuse, and later Chamonix, to put the Baltoro through it’s paces.
Comfort & Fit
The Baltoro is very comfortable and fits very well without any excess bulk, the lining of the jacket is quite soft and so wearing this against the skin would not be a problem. The hood is helmet compatible and moves well when wearing a helmet, and we also liked the height of the zipper for coving your neck and chin.
It seems that as durability and resistance against the elements increase usually the breathability suffers, considering it’s intended use and build we found the Baltoro did breathe well but could not compete with it’s light weight counterparts.
Being quite a heavyweight material, the Baltoro was a fantastic wind break and was much appreciated when threading bolts at Ceuse in an icy wind.
In cold conditions, the Baltoro did not have any problem at all with snow and sleet, in warmer conditions it will hold off a shower but bare in mind that in prolonged rain the jacket did become saturated after 20minutes or so, however given it’s intended use (alpine environment) the Baltoro performed very well.
The Baltoro is subtly fleece lined through out which we thought was a nice feature especially when wearing just over a t-shirt or a base layer, it stops the wind very well and does insulate to some degree, ideal for active use (climbing in this case), although we did go back to the down jacket when on belay! we didn’t find the insulation overkill either even when sweating on Via Ferrata routes in the sun at lower altitude. That said, due to the mid-weight (we’d even say heavyweight) shell, there are more breathable jackets on the market, but again for it’s intended purpose, we can’t fault it.
When climbing, the Baltoro did allow our arms to articulate quite freely and the helmet compatible hood did move well when looking around. The only problem we found was that the jacket would rise up through the harness and then bulge around the waist, we think is due to the shell being less stretchy then others we tested, the compromise we feel is the very tough exterior makes the jacket less dynamic.
The pockets are in a useful place and easy to use when climbing, there is also a handy internal pocket. The Baltoro is fairly simple with a set of cinches around the hood and waist area, in terms of adjustments and storage it did everything we needed.
The Baltoro is a great looking jacket that you can certainly wear in town after your day on the mountain, with it’s series of well placed pockets it’s certainly a jacket you can live with day-to-day off the mountain.
We think the Baltoro is great value considering how tough it is, this is jacket that certainly will last a long time and feels well made and up for years of abuse!
The small amount of downsides to the Baltoro only appear when it’s taken out of the alpine environment. For active use in cold conditions this jacket is brilliant, if you want an all-rounder for warmer weather it may be worth checking out the Vapour Rise Lite (also by Rab) which performed better in varied conditions.