Wherever you go you’ll see people in micro light down jackets at the moment. They’re everywhere – the market is saturated and you can pay as little or as much as you want. I’ve had my Rab Microlight Alpine jacket for about 5 years now so thought it was time to put some thoughts down on whether it’s worth it or not…
This jacket is one of the pieces of kit that i have had the longest and that’s thanks to work… I got my job on Trail magazine, starting in January 2015, and thought oh geez – I must look like I know what I’m doing when I talk about getting outside and that obviously means having the gear…
Christmas conveniently came a few weeks before I started the job – an opportunity to kit up. It was my first ‘proper’ job after university and I was keen as they come. I must admit though that even before I got this job, I’d had my eye on this jacket. I’d seen many people wearing them both on the high street of Hay-on-Wye and out in the welsh hills and it looked great. It was a fitted jacket, stylish, lightweight and yet still practical. That’s what it looked like anyway. So, as I unwrapped my new jacket on Christmas day 2014, I was really excited to test it out. As you can see… Martha and I were straight outside.
Read about our walk on Arran up the Three Beinns here
Almost four years down the line now and I would still be excited to unpack this jacket. I’ve never got tired of it, even having tested out other jackets since, including other Rab jackets. What’s my favourite thing about this jacket so far? The fact that it’s such a versatile jacket – it looks so good I can wear it down the shops as well as out walking.
What sets it above the others?
- The fit is great for a woman’s coat. It’s a coat that I feel attractive in so I wear it a lot and not just on the hill. Yes, I am occasionally one of those people who wears outdoor gear into town… I have no regrets.
- It’s compact and light – great for throwing in your rucksack as an emergency backup/extra layer. It doesn’t feel bulky to wear either.
- It’s warm – having said that it’s lightweight you may be wondering about whether it actually does the job… but in my experience it does. It’s the perfect, fast moving layer for keeping up with the dog or climbing a hill in winter.
- The wired peak on the hood is a lifesaver when you’re in cold, windy weather. As you can see in the photo below, it kept my hood up and securing my waterproof, which didn’t have a wired peak, in place. The winds on this day were the kind that blew you off your feet, so I was grateful not to be clinging onto my hood and could concentrate on using my axe as a means to keep me in place.
- While there’s not a draw cord at the back of the head to fit to your head there are cords down either side of your face. These seem to do the job well enough of fixing it in place.
- The chest pocket is really spacious, which allows you to store your phone or even an OS map in. It also doubles as the stuff pouch for when you want to compact your jacket and store it neatly in your bag.
- The storm flap under the zip prevents wind going through the zip to chill you. The zip has never caught in this extra material or jammed.
- Elasticated cuffs mean you can roll the sleeve up your arm (I hate it when a jacket won’t let you do this)
- I’ve worn it through rain (caught out on a few walks…) and I’ve not got wet. Of course, I’m sure that if I was out in the rain for a prolonged period of time it would be a different matter but you can be sure it will keep some of the rain away until you can get a water proof on – or home. It dries very quickly, too.
I’m not saying that other jackets don’t have all of this stuff, too. I’ve worn several down jackets over the years and yet I do always keep coming back to this one, even choosing it over my Patagonia Nano Puff jacket… and that’s saying something. Maybe it’s the hood…
Read about this particular snowy Lake District walk here.
My only niggles
- You can’t fit a helmet under the hood, which is fine for me as I don’t climb much and not outdoors. I don’t think this would be the jacket for you though if you’re looking for helmet compatible jackets – the reach wouldn’t be good enough for climbing either.
So, is it worth the money?
I think that you can probably tell where this is going… After four years of solid use I can confirm that this jacket is worth the money. It has lasted so well, bar a few feathers poking out. At £190 it is a lot of money, but like I said, I use it all the time. It looks good and fits like a dream and so I wear it to the shops, walking the dog, on a day out and, of course, up mountains. No outdoor gear is cheap – not if you want something that will do the job well and last. So if you have to save for something, this is a good option.
Rab claim that they use responsibly sourced, ethical down from the European Union to fill their coats.