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The brand, Rab, may not be on many North American’s radar just yet but the UK company with a rich mountain heritage should be — and perhaps will be soon. Named after their founder Rab Carrington in 1981, the company refers to themselves as “the mountain people.”
The Skyline Range’s tagline is, In Your Element, and was developed to handle all an off-road runner would or could experience in the day to day training environment. We tested out a few pieces, in our element, to see if it was true to task.
First, let’s get down to the details of the kit we tested
The Phantom waterproof pull-on ($200.00 USD), a super lightweight (86g), highly packable waterproof shell. The Sonic Ultra tee ($50.00 USD) a breathable, quick-drying top and Talus Trail shorts ($95.00 USD) a lightweight short with stretch fabrics that provide comfort and storage for long distances.
My first impressions of the kit was of the overall quality of the construction. I like to check out seams and possible hot spots on gear that I test. So, that means turning things inside out and checking how the garments are put together. I could plainly see the Phantom lives up to its name with a lightweight (almost see-through) fabric and clean, smooth welds at the attachment points. Both the shorts and the tee followed suit with similar attention to detail at the hot spots around the armpits and neck of the tee and inner thigh as well as the waist of the shorts — so far so good.
Having run in these items multiple times since I received them, I can say that the overall fit for all items is true to size. I am 5’10,” 180 lbs. and have a 32” waist. The large tee fits snug but not tight and the same goes for the jacket. The shorts are the real winner here, as they are truly comfortable with the boxer brief liner and the stretch on the waist is the perfect combination of tension without pressure of any kind.
It is these very details that really set Rab apart from some of the other brands in this category.
Let’s delve into some of those finer details of each piece
It would be easy to link to the webpage to give you the specifics and we have linked to the site for those in the above paragraph but I think it would be prudent to talk about the product without those and try to speak plainly about why these products are a good investment.
For starters, let’s have a look at the Phantom Waterproof Pull-On.
As noted, this is a very lightweight and compressible jacket. I was able to squish it down and stow it in the very shorts we are reviewing here, which was quite impressive. The jacket handles wind with no issues at all. On a training run in the alpine recently, I had some heavy wind and was really glad to have this jacket on hand. With minor rain, it handles well but felt a bit damp when the rain really started to come down. It could be argued that the jacket was trapping some of my heat during that rainfall, so the dampness might be a product of that and my experience is that is the case with jackets in this category, generally speaking.
The Phantom came with a little stuff sack and if I was being honest, I didn’t use it at all. My first thought was, well, I am going to lose that. Since the Phantom does pack down so small I am not entirely sure this is required but further discussion with other colleagues found that they do in fact use this so perhaps I am the anomaly.
Next up is the Sonic Ultra Tee
I have to say it is hard to describe a tee shirt when they all do mostly the same things but in this case, Rab added a few nice features that in my mind make this shirt stand out in the market. The one little feature I really like are the “speed holes” as my training partner called them. All though they didn’t add speed per se (of course) they did help add some cooling properties and Rab smartly located them near the neck and under the arm. As noted previously, the seams on this shirt are just done really well. I always have some chafing with shirts around the underarm and since the garment has the sleeves set in a bit that didn’t occur from the first run.
Last, but certainly not least, the Talus Trail Shorts
It occurs to me that shorts are a very specific item for each of us. As runners we all have our little preferences but let me make a claim here: these shorts would likely find their way into your everyday rotation quickly and let me tell you why.
The fit. These 5” in-seamed boxer-brief-lined shorts fit so well and were so comfortable, I wish I had a few pairs to just rotate through day in and day out. The liner is soft and moves well under the stretchy outer fabric. This makes them enjoyable for rolling down a flat single track as it did when I was power hiking a steep section of a nearby mountain.
The other really great feature is the storage. I packed the mesh pockets with my keys, the Phantom jacket and even a small 200ml soft flask on one run and the shorts didn’t feel sloppy or loose. Some shorts can indeed feel overly loose fitting when you use the pockets at capacity.
Rab has really spent some time and care to make quality products that not only look great but it is in the details that make them a brand you should really go out of your way to find because if these products are an example of the whole you will not be disappointed with what you get.