Wicking away water faster than it can soak you through is the secret to Rab's Vapour-Rise Cinder Jacket

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Score 9

Rab Vapour-Rise Cinder Jacket


  • • Great heat management in cold or warm/wet weather
  • • Luxurious inside, quiet and understated outside
  • • Good fit and features


  • • DWR coating is hopeless
  • • Rear hem drops just a touch too low


Softshells like Rab’s new Vapour-Rise Cinder Jacket are making Gore-Tex redundant, here’s why 100% waterproof is no longer needed


Price as reviewed:


Rab’s new Vapour-Rise Cinder Jacket won’t keep much water out, it doesn’t pack down small, and the price isn’t particularly reasonable. And yet despite all that it earns its place as one of our best mountain bike jackets in 2024 thanks to its brilliant heat management.

In that respect the Cinder isn’t exactly alone, softshell jackets have become the outwear of choice for me this winter and there are a lot to pick from. The category as a whole is brilliant at keeping the wind out and just enough of your warmth in to keep you happy. 

The Rab Cinder jacket is shaped for cycling, low at the front with long arms for that stretched out on-bike position

Rab Vapour-Rise Cinder Jacket need to know

  • Softshell jacket designed for cool or cold weather
  • Rab Vapour-Rise insulation to manage heat / sweat
  • Minimal design – hoodless, rear pocket, stretchy cuffs
  • Comes in three colours and five sizes

Rab’s approach is to use something called Vapour-Rise, which is basically its own brand insulation, in this case a fluffy inner lining that reminds me of granny’s bath mat. It’s super soft and feels incredibly luxurious to the touch. Better yet, it does a neat trick of being warm and cosy inside, pretty much whatever the temperature outside.

Fleecy lining is superb at wicking and insulating, and zipper wind guards leave no gap for heat loss

It’s not too warm though, Rab says it has body mapped the jacket, meaning it’s insulated where you need it, at the front and down the front of your arms. The rest is left with a simple mesh lining that does a great job of wicking away any sweat. It’s therefore not as suffocating as Scott’s Trail Storm Insuloft AL jacket, which uses an insulated lining throughout.

There’s no hood to the Cinder jacket, and the DWR coating washed off in its first meeting with the washing machine, but I’ve found that to be the case with fluorocarbon-free treatments on all modern jackets.

Side vents are pretty much superflous in a jacket this breathable

That said, I’ve worn the Cinder on a couple of properly wet rides to see how it behaves, and it’s actually really good. Yes water does work its way through, but you stay warm because the Vapour-Rise is so good at trapping heat. It also dries out really quickly if the rain does back off too, unlike plenty of dedicated waterproof jackets that tend to get wet and stay that way. 

The Cinder’s shape is very definitely cycling rather than mountain biking, with a relatively slim fit, but I think it’s still about right for trail riding in terms of styling. What’s not alright is the dropped hem, which hangs lower than on most jackets and caught on some of the pointer saddles out there. It seems much more fitting for a road bike where you’re moving less. That said, you can draw it in thanks to the elastic hem cord, and then it becomes a non-issue.

My only quibble is the slightly odd rear shape, too low or too baggy, take your pick

The Cinder jacket is snug at the wrists without being too tight, and there’s no need for a velcro cuff. I like the clever v-shaped cut away on top of your wrist, it’s there to make your sports watch easier to see. There’s also a big YKK zipped rear pocket, which will be cheered by roadies but makes no sense to me as a mountain biker. And there are ventilation zips on the side, which are pretty superfluous because the material manages heat so well.


Most of the time, a full on monsoon-proof jacket is superfluous, and a well-designed softshell is better. The Vapour-Rise Cinder is one of the best, it’s great at balancing your temperature and I’ve worn it in everything from very cold to warm and muggy without a problem. The crummy DWR is a disappointment, and the hem is too low, but it’s easy to overlook this when the rest is so good.


Colours:Black, blue, yellow
Weight:267g (size L)