I have a Rab soft shell jacket that I’m very happy with. It’s warm, light, packs away small, it’s windproof, modestly waterproof and has nice big hand pockets.
There is just one slightly annoying feature. There is no drawstring on the hood, which means the hood tends to billow around like a sail and has a habit of blowing off in the wind. Drawstring hoods are a common feature of windproof jackets, because they allow you tighten up the hood on a windy day.
I don’t know why Rab decided not to put a drawstring hood on this particular jacket, but I thought to myself that if they fix this feature then I would buy the jacket again.
Unfortunately, such is the way with outdoor brands that you can never buy exactly the same item ever again. This is because they are constantly reinventing the same products again and again, changing them slightly, and often giving them a slightly different name.
In some cases, this is a good thing. Imagine my delight when Edita bought what appeared to be the latest version of the same jacket. It had the same useful features. It was warm, light, packed away small, was windproof, modestly waterproof, had nice big hand pockets, and it even had a drawstring hood.
Fantastic! It’s a bit small for me though. So I went over to Amazon to get one of these jackets for myself.
Now, I don’t know the name of this particular jacket. It could be called the Vapour Rise 5000, the Mera Peak 57, or just plain old Kevin. Like you and me, it doesn’t display its name prominently on its surface. Perhaps I should be friendlier to my clothing and get to know it by its name, but that’s not what ordinary people do.
However, I managed to find what appeared to be the same jacket with the same useful features. I popped it in my virtual shopping basket, and a few days later I was trying it on.
It was warm, light and packed away small. It was made from the same material, so I knew it would be windproof and modestly waterproof. It also had a drawstring hood. But then I tried to put my hands in my pockets and…..
Can you believe it, there were no hand pockets, only tiny little chest pockets that might just be big enough for a whistle, but certainly not hands.
(By the way, if any of you are wondering what Karl Pilkington is doing modelling my jacket, that’s me you fool.)
Now perhaps I’m just lucky. I’ve bought pullover-style fleeces without any pockets at all, but every time in my life that I’ve bought a nice warm jacket with a zip, I’ve had a place to put my hands. It turns out that I’ve become complacent. I’ve become so used to it that I’ve just come to assume that this is how things are.
Hand pockets are a useful feature that make the wearer happy on a cold day. I have no idea why Rab decided to get rid of the pockets on this particular jacket. Perhaps they didn’t notice. Perhaps they have a policy of only having a certain number of useful features on a product, and by adding a drawstring to the hood it meant they had to get rid of something else. Perhaps they just thought that if our politicians are allowed to get away with doing something monumentally stupid then why can’t they.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I knew I couldn’t abide a cold day in Britain without being able to put my hands in my pockets, so I sent the jacket back and posted a slightly sarcastic review of it on Amazon. Sorry, Kevin! I don’t know if Rab will ever read it, but perhaps some of their customers might, and nod ever so slightly in sympathy.
I quite like Rab’s products and I don’t want to single them out. All of the big outdoor brands seem to do the same thing. I could tell you about the nice Osprey day pack I have that has a pair of gear loops for your ice axe, and two more slightly smaller gear loops for your trekking poles.
That’s a nice feature, because sometimes you have an ice axe and other times you have trekking poles. The pack is flexible enough for both scenarios.
I recommended the pack to Edita and she bought one. She has a later version than mine, an “upgrade” I think you are supposed to call it. Only for some reason, the pole loops are missing. Now you have to carry the poles upside-down in one of the side pockets instead.
I don’t know why Osprey got rid of those loops either. They’re such a small thing, so easy. Perhaps they thought that by getting rid of the extra loops of material, it would make the pack 7g lighter, and their customers might appreciate that. Only Osprey knows the answer.
Why in the name of Messner’s hair do they keep doing this? Does it annoy you too, or am I just a whingeing old so-and-so? Answers below (and please be polite).