4 adventurous members of the Taunton Leisure team were lucky enough to be invited to Glenmore Lodge to participate in winter skills and mountaineering courses while putting RAB products to the ultimate test!

It’s a rare treat to jet off to the Cairngorms for four days of winter skills and mountaineering, all while putting some of RAB’s fantastic gear to the test. Our gracious hosts for this unforgettable journey were Glenmore Lodge, a renowned training centre nestled in the heart of the Cairngorms, providing the ideal setting for incredible adventures.

The main objective of our trip? To delve deeper into RAB’s offerings and understand their products firsthand. This entailed rigorous field testing and insightful seminars led by RAB and Gore-Tex experts, unveiling the latest in outdoor technology.

Fortunately, the Cairngorms delivered the perfect winter conditions we had hoped for. Upon our arrival, we were greeted by a fresh blanket of snow, a delightful surprise considering our concerns about the timing of the trip. Luck was on our side, as the week prior had witnessed a significant melt.

However, as our departure day approached, we observed the gradual melting of the snow once again, serving as a reminder that these perfect winter conditions had seemingly materialized solely to enhance our trip.

Day 1 with RAB

On our first day in the mountains, we met up with the RAB representative who provided us with essential gear for the tough conditions: the Latok Mountain Waterproof Jacket, Latok Waterproof Trousers, Xenair Alpine Insulated Jacket, and the Cresta GTX Gloves. With temperatures at -15°C and winds gusting at 60mph, this gear was crucial for our safety and comfort.

Afterward, we split into two groups. Group 1 focused on learning winter skills, while Group 2 tackled more advanced techniques in winter mountaineering. With guidance from RAB and Glenmore Lodge instructors, each group got briefed on the day’s activities and what gear to bring along

Winter Skills

Our winter skills group embarked on a circular hike taking them up to 1200m. While completing this walk the team also honed their abilities in using a walking ice axe, attaching crampons, and navigating winter terrain. Despite braving severe weather conditions and encountering more exposure than the Winter Mountaineering team.

The challenging weather conditions presented an ideal opportunity to put the Rab equipment to the test. With strong winds and bitter cold, layering up was essential. The Xenair Alpine Insulated Jacket provided much-needed warmth, while the Latok Jacket effectively blocked out the wind. Both items proved their worth by allowing participants to stay warm without overheating or feeling uncomfortable. The Xenair features PrimaLoft® Gold Insulation Active+ for warmth and breathability, making it perfect for activities in variable winter weather. Meanwhile, the Latok Mountain utilizes Gore-Tex Pro, offering durability and breathability to keep you dry without feeling clammy.

Winter Mountaineering

The winter mountaineering team’s day also involved a circular walk, but with a focus on applying basic skills in practical situations. The route led us to the base of a challenging winter scramble, where the use of ice axes and crampons became crucial. Our team learned various techniques essential for day 2, including Daggering (climbing steep neve snow while front-pointing with crampons and using the ice axe), cutting ledges in the snow for resting, and basic rope skills. These elements combined to create an exhilarating day of learning and adventure.

While the winter mountaineering course offered less exposure than the winter skills course, it presented its own set of challenges for the gear we had been given. During the physically demanding task of Daggering, our team opted for lighter layers and relied heavily on sturdy gloves. Many of us chose to wear the Latok Jacket and Trousers, which provided excellent protection from the elements without causing overheating during strenuous activity. The Cresta Gloves were essential during the climb, especially for hand placements on the ground. Thanks to the Gore-Tex membrane, these gloves kept our hands warm and dry throughout. Their compatibility with the Latok jacket ensured that moisture and snow couldn’t penetrate, providing peace of mind during intense climbs.

Evening Talks

As mentioned earlier, in addition to the practical testing, we had informative sessions with the brands. On our first evening, we had a session with RAB, where they provided an overview of their company and discussed the clothing we had worn that day, explaining the rationale behind their selection. Following this, we had the privilege of hearing from the UK representative of Gore-Tex. They shared insights into the brand and introduced us to the new advancements in Gore-Tex technology with the introduction of EPe. We were also given the chance to test the membrane ourselves using a portable rain tower, allowing us to compare Gore-Tex with other, less sophisticated membranes in terms of waterproofing and breathability.


On Day 2, both teams continued to build upon the skills acquired on the previous day. The Cairngorms presented even more demanding conditions with gusts reaching 80mph and freezing temperatures. The winter skills team embarked on a longer circular walk, applying the skills learned previously and gaining further insights into preparation and navigation in winter conditions. Meanwhile, the winter mountaineering team returned to a similar location as the day before but opted for a more challenging ascent and ridge walk, integrating all the skills developed in the previous day’s training into more demanding conditions. Additionally, they delved deeper into understanding avalanche risk and strategies for staying safe in rapidly changing winter environments.

Back at Glenmore Lodge, we were fortunate to listen to Greg Boswell, a RAB sponsored athlete renowned for his remarkable achievements in conquering some of the UK’s toughest winter climbing routes. Greg’s stories, including his encounter with a grizzly bear while climbing in the Canadian Rockies, provided us with a captivating glimpse into the life of a leading winter mountaineer in the UK. His talk not only showcased his incredible resilience but also shed light on the harsh and unforgiving nature of Scottish winters, reaffirming why it’s the ideal setting for testing outdoor equipment designed in the UK. Greg’s insights and experiences undoubtedly inspired many of the participants, leaving a lasting impression on us all.

All good things must come to an end

The only downside to this incredible trip was its inevitable conclusion. It had been an unforgettable experience and a valuable opportunity to test a variety of equipment from RAB in authentic winter conditions. Such trips enable our staff to gain firsthand insights into the capabilities of this equipment, where and how it can be effectively used, its feel, and who it may be best suited for. This real-world experience equips them to offer practical advice and recommendations to our customers, enhancing their overall shopping experience.

A big thank you to RAB for organizing this unforgettable trip, to Gore-Tex for educating our staff, and to Glenmore Lodge for being an amazing host. They provided accommodation, delicious food, and even some specialized equipment that made the experience truly memorable. We’re incredibly grateful for the opportunity.