Saturday, August 3, 2013

Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket Review

Rab is an English outdoor clothing and equipment company. Started in 1981 by climber Rab Carrington to design and manufacture down clothing and sleeping bags, the brand has never had a huge share of the outdoor market, especially in this part of the world. But those in the know, including a few climbing friends of mine, swear by the product. And while Rab's range has been expanded over recent years, the core down products are still probably the company's best features.
I have never owned any Rab clothing, so was stoked to receive a Microlight Alpine Down Jacket to review. And I have to say that, if I didn't own too many down jackets already, I would certainly be buying one.
Described as a layering, or ultralight, packable insulating piece, the jacket ticks all the right boxes. Filled with 140 grams of 750 loft goose down, it's warm for the 350 grams weight. The cut is snug, meaning there is no dead air space and the jacket won't move around during exercise. The mini stitch-through baffles – designed to keep the down from shifting around – seem to work, although this will only become apparent after a number of wears. The hem and cuffs are elasticated, and the down hood has a wired peak to it, meaning it doesn't collapse over your face like some jacket hoods. The pockets are where they need to be, one acting as a stuff sack, and the front zip is easy to operate with gloves on. The outer is Pertex Microlight, a very lightweight and supposedly durable fabric with some windproof and water resistant properties. Again, time will tell whether these features stack up.
So what lifts it above the competition? For me, the jacket has clearly been designed by those who understand the nature of outdoor adventure. The jacket's cut, the warmth for weight, and ease of use means this is a jacket well worth considering. Any, err, down sides? Personally, I like my hood's a bit roomier so they can go either outside or inside a climbing helmet. The hood on this jacket is pretty snug so wouldn't fit over a helmet. And, if I was being pedantic, lightly fleece-lined pockets are a nice to have which this jacket doesn't.

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