Rab Ascendor Light Hoody review – the perfect layer for year-round riding

Need a warm yet lightweight technical top that’s fast-wicking and breathable? Look no further than Rab’s Ascendor Light Hoody

A female tester wearing the Rab Ascendor Light Hoody
(Image: © Jon Slade)

Bike Perfect Verdict

A super-useful technical midlayer for winter, or outer layer in spring or fall, that is thin but warm, breathable and quick-drying, plus it looks great – what’s not to like?


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    Very cosy and comfortable with a snug hood

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    Full-length zip

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    Long, slim fit

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    Thumb loops on sleeves

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    Lightweight and packable


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    Premium price

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British climber Rab Carrington made his first piece of technical kit in his Sheffield attic back in 1981, and Rab quickly expanded into a premium outdoors brand for the climbing community. It has evolved to cater for most adventure mountain sports, and that now encompasses mountain biking. See our review of Rab’s Cinder Kinetic waterproof jacket.

However, as its name implies, this Ascendor Light hoody is designed primarily for climbers, and recommended by Rab for skiing and mountaineering too, but the marketing folk have missed a trick as it’s also ideal for biking. Lightweight, warm and easily packable, I've kept it in my pack throughout this winter as a versatile midlayer. It's available in men and women's versions, which are the same apart from their colors and sizing (Rab also make a thicker Ascendor hoody for colder conditions). Pair the hoody with one of the best cycling base layers, and you'll be sitting pretty from fall through to spring.

chest pocket on the Rab Ascendor Light Hoody

There's a single generously-proportioned zipped chest pocket (Image credit: Jon Slade)

Design & specifications

You can tell the Ascendor Light is a quality garment at first glance, despite its casual appearance. Made from a technical fabric called Thermic S, this thin fleece has an impressive weight to warmth ratio thanks to alternating stripes of high and low-lofting fleece, which keeps it lightweight while creating optimum air flow to aid breathability. The polyester fabric (94 percent recycled to reduce its environmental impact) is super-stretchy and also wicking and fast-drying. 

This hoody is well made and neatly finished with flatlock seams and soft elasticated binding at the cuffs, hem and around the hood opening. It features a full-length zip with a usefully long fabric zip tag, has a single mesh-lined chest pocket with a concealed zip, and a handy hanging loop inside the neck.

All Rab gear is covered by the Rab Promise, which includes a warranty to repair or replace any garment that fails due to a manufacturing defect during its usable lifetime, plus the brand offers wash and repair services to all customers as part of its drive to be more sustainable.

Back view of the Rab Ascendor Light Hoody

The cut is slim-fitting with lovely long sleeves and body (Image credit: Jon Slade)


On the bike this hoody lived up to my expectations very well. Its slim-fitting design means it sits nicely under tops and jackets as an insulating midlayer, while the snug hood comfortably fits under your helmet when the temperature plummets, giving welcome warmth. The amply long body and dropped rear hem ensure your lower back stays covered too, even when you’re stretched out going downhill. The material wicks well – it never got more than a slightly damp back when wearing it under a waterproof jacket with a backpack and working hard, and I sweat very easily! And it lived up to its claims of being fast-drying too.

But the feature that makes the Ascendor Light so usable – and is surprisingly hard to find in bike-specific jerseys, hence me tracking down this climbing hoody – is its full-length zip. This makes it much quicker and easier to put on because you don’t need to remove your helmet first, something you really appreciate when the weather takes a turn for the worse on an exposed hilltop in the middle of winter.

And although it isn’t billed as water-resistant, I was very impressed that the Ascendor Light kept me dry when I got caught out without a jacket in a steady shower that lasted about 15 minutes when cycling home the other day, and then by how quickly the fabric dried out afterwards as the sleeves got pretty wet.

The elasticated binding at the cuffs and hem keeps the body and sleeves in place, plus there’s a simple thumb loop if you want the sleeves over your hands – they’re easily long enough to reach to your knuckles. The chest pocket is ideal for keeping your credit card safe, although it’ll easily swallow an energy bar or two. As for versatility, this hoody is an attractively designed piece of clothing that looks as much at home on a hike, in a bar or a trip to the shop as it does in the mountains.

thumb loop on the Rab Ascendor Light Hoody

The thumb loops are useful if you like the cuffs pulled right down over your hands (Image credit: Jon Slade)


I’ve no hesitation recommending the Ascendor Light hoody. I’d go as far as to say it’s a versatile wardrobe essential for any outdoorsy person because it works for a variety of activities, including biking, and also is perfectly acceptable for casual wear. It has a good fit, the technical fabric keeps you warm and dry, it’s non-bulky and light enough to carry as a spare layer and, best of all in my opinion, the full-length zip is a real bonus. This all makes its price easier to justify.

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The lowdown – Rab Ascendor Light Hoody
WarmthInsulates extremely well for its light weight and low bulk★★★★★
BreathabilityWicks very well and dries out fast too ★★★★★
DesignSpot on fit and features★★★★★
Value for moneyYes it's expensive, but worth it★★★★

Tech specs – Rab Ascendor Light Hoody

  • Price:  $130 / £90.00
  • Sizes: 8-16 (women’s), S-XXL (men’s)
  • Weight: 228g (size 12 tested)
  • Colors: Orion Blue (tested), Beluga, Patriot Blue, Sahara (women’s)
  • Materials: 94% Thermic S (165gsm) polyester recycled fleece, 6% elastane
Shim Slade
Freelance writer

Shim first discovered MTBs when she moved to Bath in the mid-nineties and has been making up for lost time ever since. She started working on Mountain Biking UK nearly 20 years ago and also counts What Mountain BikeCycling PlusOff-road.cc and Bikeradar among the bike-related magazines and websites she's written for. She loves exploring technical singletrack, has ridden England, Wales and Scotland C2Cs and gets out in the Quantocks and the Black Mountains as often as possible. Other regular riding destinations are the Lake and the Peak Districts, and an MTB holiday in India is her most memorable, partly for its uber-steep tech. The odd trip to the Forest of Dean and Bike Park Wales inspires her to get wheels off the ground, but that’s a work in progress, helped by coaching with Rach at Pro Ride and formerly Pedal Progression