Gearbox: 2023 Skinning Layers

Rab Equipment Vapour-Rise Summit Jacket


You know the bitingly cold feeling when your bootpack reaches the ridge and the wind cuts into your bones? Our tester says Rab’s Vapour-Rise Summit is the antidote. Made with a Pertex Quantum Air outer with durable waterproof repellant and Rab’s Vapour-Rise Warm lining, the Summit provides breathability, weather resistance and a bit of insulation during cold, high-output activities. “A little hot for tree skinning and mellow weather, but on a howling ridgeline it gives me the same feeling my yellow baby blanket did,” said our tester, who’s slotting it into his jacket quiver between his windbreaker and hybrid puffy. He bemoaned its lack of packability but appreciates the comfort of the fuzzy inner fabric on cold descents.

Scott Explorair Alpha Vest


Vests have a lot of bonuses: They’re stylish, they show off your guns, they keep your core warm. According to our tester, the Explorair Alpha Vest has some additional perks. “It definitely breathes a whole lot better than down and also feels more durable, as the finish on this vest is much ‘harder’ and seems to be more resistant to tearing,” he said of the Polartec Alpha Direct insulation and the 100-percent recycled polyester shell. He found the athletic fit to be ideal for layering between a baselayer and a shell, adding, “They put less insulation on the back panel, so it’s good for a backpack. Super breathable and lightweight.” His only complaint? The lack of a chest pocket.

Norrona Women’s Falketind Aero60 Hood


Norrøna uses the lightweight, 100-percent polyester Aero60 fabric, which provides 60 Mbar/1/m2/s air permeability. For those without a physics degree, that translates into the jacket allowing sweat to escape while keeping wind and light snow out. Our tester signed off on this equation, noting she was comfortable and dry while storm skinning and on hot spring tours: “While other wind shells can feel like hiking in a trash bag, the Falketind Aero60 is supple and breathable.” She especially liked the mesh in the armpits, which provided another port for sweat to escape, and the chest pocket, which was large enough for the jacket to pack into or for her cellphone. “No matter the weather, I know this will work on the skintrack,” she concluded.

Black Diamond Alpenglow Pro Hoody


The Women’s Alpenglow Pro Hoody hits the trifecta, according to one tester: “Blocks the sun, repels the rain, vents the heat!” Featuring EMPEL (Elevate performance. End pollution), PFC-free DWR (translation: fewer toxic chemicals but still water-resistant) stretch fabric with UPF 50+ protection, this sun hoody is all about the material. Self-identified as a heavy sweater, our tester appreciated the light material and armpit mesh with, according to Black Diamond, odor control treatment. “Dries fast and barely smells,” she said. Plus, she noted it’s easy to layer over or wear solo and comes with thumb loops and an over-helmet-compatible hood. She complained that “the zippered chest pocket is inconvenient with backpack chest straps,” but she’s “looking forward to less sticky spring tours in this.”

Elevenate Women’s La Bise Jacket


“Feels like wearing nothing!” quipped our tester, who described the lightweight and simple Elevenate Women’s La Bise Jacket as “the perfect minimalist touring layer.” The wind- and water-resistant shell is made from polyamide with a polyurethane coating to keep out the elements without weighing you down or overinsulating. “Fits well with or without an insulation layer,” she added, appreciating its lack of bulk. The simple features—adjustable cuffs, a helmet-compatible hood and single pocket on the right hip—do the job, though our tester wished it had additional storage space. Though it’s not suited for heavy storms, she said, “I think this will live in my pack. I’m always too hot or too cold, and this jacket accommodates both.”

These reviews first appeared in Issue 149. To pick up a copy, go to, and to see reviews earlier when they are published in print, subscribe.

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