Just in from Rab, the AL Pull-on is either a heavyweight base layer or a super light mid-layer, either way, we predict it's going to rock.
What with all the kerfuffle over Rab's new Stretch Neo jacket and the excellent MeCo base layer – more about that soon – it'd be easy to overlook the new AL Pull-on, a simple zip-necked top made from something called Polartec PowerDry High Efficiency stretch fabric - deep breath.
It's an interesting thing that you can use either as an extreme cold conditions base-layer top, worn next to skin, or as sort of very lightweight mid-layer under a shell. Great for added warmth on fast-moving winter days, or as a winter climbing base layer or as bit of extra warmth in your pit maybe. Light too, our medium test top weighs a genuine 203g.
The fabric is a light, double-knit, micro-gridded version of Polartec's PowerDry base layer material, which is close to being a very lightweight fleece. It's very similar to a slightly heavier-weight PowerDry fabric used by Berghaus for its Smoulder Hoody in 2010, with a smooth outer and gridded inner to trap air and cut weight and bulk. It's also treated with Polygiene, a permanent anti-microbial technology to prevent stink and allow multi-day use.
The Berghaus version wicked wickedly - can we say that? - and was a great fast-moving, cold-weather mid-layer and we'd expect the Rab top to do a similar job. The only real downside we found with the fabric was that it was hard to pull on next to skin when you were hot and sweaty thanks to the close fit and friction from that gridded inner.
We'll let you know if the Rab is similar, but it's essentially a simple zip-neck pull-on with flat-locked seams, and a close-fitting stand-up collar complete with flap to stop the zip rubbing. One thing we noticed straight away though, is quite a close fit across the shoulders and under the arms.
The stretch in the fabric means it's still wearable, but we reckon the arm-holes are cut too high, which is something we've noticed with other Rab Pull-on designs, notably the Stretch Vapour-rise Smock, though not with their jackets. If you're big or wide in the shoulder department, we'd suggest trying before buying.
If you're after something a tad more technical, there's also the new Baseline Hoodie in the same fabric but with a hood, chest pocket – the Pull-on is pocketless – and thumbloops.
Retail for the AL Pull-on is £50, the Baseline Hoodie is £75 by the way. More info at www.rab.uk.com.