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Regular Backpacking Light readers over the last few years will be familiar with my search for the ideal windshirt. I decided long ago that a light layer which blocks some wind, some precipitation, and offers a bit of warmth will serve more purposes than any other. Because my windshirt is worn so often, it is thought about and given more scrutiny than any other piece of clothing. I own several good enough rain jackets, and because these are packed often but worn perhaps one day in five or six, I'm content to let them lie.

My windshirt thinking has always leaned towards the more breathable versions, which can be accurately thought of as very light softshells or windshirt/softshell hybrids. Outstanding recent examples include the Rab Boreas and the (recently discontinued) Patagonia Traverse. The sub 4 ounce windshirts which have been an ultralight staple for over a decade typically breath less well than heavier woven fabrics; however the bugbear of these windshirt/softshell hybrids has been greater weight and moisture absorption, as I detailed back in 2012. The choice between a lighter, weather resistant and quick drying but less breathable windshirt (such as the Rab Cirrus or and Patagonia Houdini), and a light softshell windshirt (such as the Rab Boreas), remained the only option until early in 2014. Several windshirts featuring light nylon or polyester weaves came on the market early that year, which split the difference between the two categories mentioned above. Garments like the Montane Mountain Star and the Black Diamond Alpine Start (which I reviewed back in April) provide weather resistance comparable to "old-school" windshirts while at the same time being significantly more breathable and only mildly heavier and more bulky. I happily used the Alpine Start all through 2014 with my only complaints being, as detailed in the review, the stiff front zipper and oddly cut hood.

But well enough is almost never ideal, and I enjoy the learning process associated with trying new windshirts. Enter the Rab Vapour-rise Lite Alpine, the latest iteration of Rab's Vapour-rise line of windshells. What is the Lite Alpine, what does it do well, and what it is good for? Read on to find out.


  • The windshirt quest continues
  • What it is
  • What it does
  • What good is it?

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