It’s the first softshell jacket I’ve owned. A January winter trip to Scotland seemed like the perfect opportunity to purchase and test the Rab Exodus Jacket. Danny, Jon (JCG Expeditions) and I met in the Alex MacIntyre Hut and over dinner began making our plans for the following day. We decided upon tackling Tower Ridge, a long and serious winter outing.
We woke at 4am having had very little sleep. Conversation was minimal as we left the hut and made our way to the North Face car park. We reached the CIC hut at around 7:30am and began making our way up onto the ridge. As we put on crampons and donned ice axes, the Exodus Jacket came out. The huge hood proved invaluable as a slight wind chilled us to the bone. I wore a simple fleece neck warmer underneath it which, under the ample hood, was an efficient way of retaining heat.
As the ground got steeper we roped up. Some sections we led individually, set up a quick belay and brought each other up. One lead I will remember for the rest of my life was crossing Tower Gap. As Jon and Danny sheltered beside a handy boulder just short of the ridge, I led out tentatively with a crampon either side of the ridge. The drop into the gap was made easier by the perfectly placed cord around the main boulder. I was glad to get the rope clipped into it too! The Eastern Traverse looked particularly menacing and the ledge was minimal. Clipping into the rusty pegs gave us confidence but the dripping wet ice section the other side felt decidedly insecure!
We topped out at around 6:30pm. It had been a long day and a good sit-down and a cup of tea was appreciated by all. We descended the tourist trail then cut across via Lochan Meall an t-Suidhe to the North Face car park. It was dark, we were all exhausted but pleased with our achievements.
The Exodus Jacket proved invaluable throughout the climb. I have always been sceptical about soft shell, maintaining that I may as well just use a hard shell and save on the extra weight of an additional top that isn’t fully waterproof anyway! The improved breathability of the Exodus top was obvious and I didn’t feel at all wet or cold throughout the whole day. It is extremely windproof and I loved the fact that I could just pull up the hood over my helmet at each belay station, giving that extra barrier to keep out the cold. The arms are extremely long, allowing me to Velcro them up under my gloves whilst still having plenty of play in them for those full-arm stretches. The two harness-friendly pockets were perfect, allowing plenty of temporary storage space for my outer gloves as well as an effective windproof barrier to keep my hands warm when walking.
I have been impressed with the Rab Exodus, it certainly did the job on our trip to Scotland. For those of you who are still sceptical about the benefits of soft shell, give it a go, you won’t regret it!