Happy happy Wednesday everybody! The days are finally getting lighter and I could not be any more excited; my eyes keep hungrily searching the hills, paths and trails for the first signs of spring (maybe a bit prematurely). Since we last spoke I have set up a Feral Lady Facebook page (finally! Check it out here!), moved back into my house after extensive plastering (about 8 weeks worth.. Ugh), discovered Lush (I am million years behind but I am so sold on it! The shampoo bars are my favourite and I look forward to taking them on multi-day hikes in the summer!) and I’m preparing for my second shoot with Emma (who has also become a dear friend and guide for my mental well-being. Some of my photos from my first shoot are on my Instagram page). I also met the coolest lady who’s trekking to Everest Base Camp in a couple of months; hopefully, I’ll be able to get her in for an interview before she goes and again when she comes back. How exciting!
So what are we talking about this week? Well, the title kinda gave it away. It’s about time for a Gear Review! Rab’s Continuum Jacket, to be more precise. The Continuum is a super lightweight down jacket aimed at Alpinists as the down jacket for fast and light ascents (it’s far more versatile than that though). It’s not waterproof, but due to its square micro-baffle construction it layers up incredibly well. You may have noticed that this jacket has been in a tonne of my photos and the videos that I’ve done with Trekitt – well, that’s because I’ve been ruthlessly testing it over the last 3 months to bring you an honest and in-depth review. Following the structure of previous reviews, let’s break down the techy stuff first.
- Pertex Quantum GL fabric inner and outer
- 850FP Hydrophobic European Goose Down
- YKK VISLON front zip with internal insulated baffle and chin guard
- 2 YKK concealed zip hand-warmer pockets
- Stitch through square micro-baffle construction ( this stops the down from migrating and prevents cold spots)
- Helmet compatible and fully adjustable wire peaked hood.
- Elasticated, low profile cuffs
- Half hem drawcord
- Pertex Quantum GL stuff sack
I like to think of myself as a responsible human being – I’ve cut out disposable coffee cups, bought myself some steel straws that I carry around everywhere, I recycle, I buy all of my vegetables from the market so I don’t have to throw away a tonne of plastic packaging and I carry around a tote bag in my regular bag because screw plastic (plus it has a mermaid on it so I feel special). What I’m trying to say is that I’m equally as picky when it comes to knowing that my down comes from a reliable and fair source. Rab use 110g of 850FP R.D.S. certified goose down in the Continuum Jacket. This means that the geese aren’t force-fed, they aren’t live plucked and the welfare of the birds is respected at all times: from hatching to slaughter – that ticks all of the happy boxes for me. 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. Plus, it’s 100% fluorocarbon free – winner!
Rab use Pertex Quantum GL in the Continuum – Pertex Quantum GL was made especially for Rab. It’s 20% lighter than Pertex Quantum which means that apparel can be build much lighter and still have the same amount of insulation. It’s also one of the main contributing factors to its incredible packability and lightweight design (310g to be exact). 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 performing jacket in a wide range of conditions.
The Continuum 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 are 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.
The main selling point to me was the jackets incredible warmth to weight ratio and the sheer versatility of it. On the days where it’s dry and cold there’s still some wiggle room to put a light fleece and my buff on underneath it, when it’s raining I can put my waterproof shell over the top of it without restricting my movement and when it’s dry and mild it breathes exceptionally well so I don’t house any sweat patches. When I have the time to go out for a proper run I like to go out for about 3-4 hours and just pootle along gently. The Continuum fits perfectly into my tiny running pack; so when I want to stop to take in the view and reload on carbs I can unpack it, it relofts quickly and I can chuck it on to keep all my warm air in (a similar routine happens when I go out climbing).
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. I’m 5’1, weigh in at about 50 kg, measure up as a 34B Cup size, have a pretty muscular back and usually take a size 8 – I managed to fit snugly into a size 8 in the Continuum (with room for a lightweight fleece), but I would have struggled if I had bigger boobs. This is a good time to point out that I don’t usually get on with Rab’s fit (due to having quite a short torso) but for me this was the best fit out of their range. It’s tapered at the back so you don’t get a cold spot along your trouser line when you bend over, but it isn’t cut as long as some of their other jackets. I find that if a jacket is cut 2-3 inches longer then they look really strange on me.
Guys, I’m starting to sound like a broken record, and I wish this really wasn’t the case again (I’m not even sorry) but I have to bring up the colour thing. I ended up settling on Rab’s ‘Seaglass’ colour – whilst pretty pleasing to the eye it is far from original – all you have to do is look at the other ranges of jackets/shoes/walking poles/bags aimed at women. The main pull for me to pick up this colour was the fact that the only other colour in the Continuum range (Ink) is lined with a shockingly bright pink. I have actively been boycotting pink since the early days of buying my own kit. I used to think this was a thought process completely unique to me (because all of the manufacturers were making SO much pink kit for women.. So we must be buying it, right?) but since openly talking to other female outdoor enthusiasts I’ve found that my thought process is not unique or original – it is an ideology shared by the majority. More and more I see women actively turning their noses up and the baby blues, berry pinks and ‘safe’ black jackets; instead I see women actively seeking out oranges, reds, yellows, greens, stone greys and deep blues. Now, I’m not voting to abolish pink altogether – I understand it caters to certain types of women – which is absolutely fine; do you boo! I’m just asking for a bigger range of colours that excite me and send my imagination wild. I can guarantee that if I fall in love with a jacket in the shop, I’ve already taken it on 1001 adventures in my mind before I’ve even reached the till! So give me colours that stimulate THAT kind of response!
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 suits me down to the ground, unlike some of Rab’s other jackets reiterating the point that it’s SO important to try them on! The length and fit changes quite dramatically 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! The colour thing is something that will probably change later rather than sooner, but the more we talk about it and the more we put badass, powerful, exciting outdoorsy women into the limelight, then the faster this point will get drilled in. However, the colour choice doesn’t detract from the fact that this is an incredibly impressive piece of kit. I’ll be holding on to mine forever!
Next week I’m going to nerd out on disposable coffee cups with you – I can’t wait! If you need something to fill your time until then you can find my full video review for the Continuum on Trekitt’s Facebook page. See you next week!
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