Good Afternoon – Welcome to my first ever Gear Review.
The aim will be to release one of these every month to help you make an informed decision about proper kit before you part with some of your hard earned money (I know it’s important!). So, I’ll be taking a no holds barred approach. No bullshit. I’m not trying to sell you anything. Well break down the techy stuff, it’s intended use, the fit (if it’s clothing), the good bits, the bad bits and the ugly bits – I don’t plan on hiding anything from you.
So in today’s review we’ll be looking at Rab’s Microlight Alpine jacket. Now, something that I have to stress to about 95% of people I see is that it is NOT a waterproof jacket. It’s not designed as a shell. It is primarily an insulating mid-layer (if you are after a waterproof down jacket then have a look at Rab’s Valiance jacket). Whilst it certainly isn’t the warmest it IS probably one of the most versatile jackets. It suits cold, dry mountain days, is super popular as an ‘around the town’ kinda jacket, and layers up really well due to it’s slim fit, micro-baffle construction. It comes with it’s own little stuff sack and, because of its down insulation and pertex fabric, packs down to almost nothing.
Okay, so let’s break down the techy stuff:
In the Microlight Alpine Jacket Rab use 135g of 750 fill power Hydrophobic European Goose down. Each cluster of down is treated with a special Nikwax product that makes the down perform better in damp conditions. This does not meant that the down is waterproof; it does however mean that if it gets wet then it dries quicker, absorbs less water, maintains its loft far better than untreated down and manages sweat really well (super important). Plus, it’s 100% fluorocarbon free – winner!
The outer fabric is Pertex Microlight fabric. Pertex Microlight is 20% lighter than Pertex Quantum (which makes up the inner fabric), which allows this jacket to pack down to an incredibly size. It actually has the smallest packing volume of any Pertex material. It’s densely woven structure blocks the wind and traps still air to maintain warmth. This provides a lightweight shell that is wind resistant, breathable and durable. The outer fabric is also coated with a light DWR (durable water repellent) which helps control moisture and protect the down insulation. This, coupled with the Hydrophobic down results in an amazing preforming jacket in a wide range of conditions.
- Stitch through micro-baffles
- Wire peaked and fully adjustable hood
- Drawcord on the hem
- Elasticated cuff
- Two YKK zipped hand warmer pockets
- One YKK zipped chest pocket
- Stuff sack
The Microlight Alpine is labelled as ‘Slim Fit’ – this means that the baffles sit close to your body to retain as much warmth as possible, whilst still leaving enough room for you to put a light layer (like a thin jumper) on underneath. It does also mean, however, that if you have a bit busty then you may want to try the size up – The baffles shouldn’t pull too tight and distort anywhere otherwise the jacket won’t be able to fully loft and will lose some of its warmth.
Yes, we are faced with the classic blue, pink or black thing – but on top of those Rab also make these in 5 more colours; so there’s plenty of choice (why not try Spruce for something a bit different?). As well as that, this season they have introduced the Microlight Long, which adds about two and a half baffles of length to the original jacket – this allows for that all important bum coverage, and is particularly important if you are a on the taller side. And, as if you needed MORE option, they do a non-hooded version too (my favourite), which makes the idea layering piece (I hate having to pull up more than one hood in the rain).
Whilst the women’s fit is better than the men’s version (which is very boxie) it still isn’t quite right. It can sit too tight across the chest if you have a large bust which means you’d have to go the size up. This can result in you losing the fit in the arms and the hips. So they haven’t quite nailed that bit yet.
Although Rab have been hard at work creating a jacket that’s stripped down, as light as possible, and has an incredibly impressive warmth to weight ratio, it seems to have all been ignored and is currently most commonly used by football Mums as an out-of-the-car jacket. Whilst this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it does mean that the main target market (especially where I am) has shifted from its original alpinist roots (although, this is still who they are trying to aim it at), and these jackets are appearing on every other woman in town. If this doesn’t bother you then great! If it does then you may want to look at their other lightweight jackets that aren’t as popular to the masses (e.g. The Continuum).
As a whole:
In conclusion, we have an incredibly lightweight and packable jacket that suits all conditions from ‘mild enough for a light jacket’ to ‘oh, it’s getting pretty cold now actually’. The fit isn’t quite right for me, and I am more sold on some of Rab’s bigger down products. Reiterating the point that it’s SO important to try them on! The length and fit changes over Rab’s range of jackets. So if the fit isn’t quite right for you then do have a go with some other bits of their range!
And if you’re reading this and you’re thinking “This jacket is SO for me but I’m a vegan” then fear not! Rab also do a Nimbus Jacket which has a very similar fit (the baffle construction is a little different and the hood has a soft peak instead of a flexible wire peak).
As usual, if you have any questions then leave them in the comments section!
See you next week!