Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Best value mountaineering shell, perfect pocket design allows quick access to chest pockets and has comfy hand pockets, large non-zip and zippered interior stash pockets provide storage for gloves and skins, hood is comfortable and unrestrictive when worn
Cons: Heaviest climbing/hiking shell tested; feels heavy and restricting; construction quality is lower than Patagonia, Arcteryx, Mountain Hardwear (seams are sewn not welded); unnecessary snaps and velcro tabs along main zipper.
Best Uses: Best budget bomber mountaineering shell
The Rab Latok is a tank-like hardshell for the most brutal of expeditions. This jacket has some outstanding attributes, like the best pocket design of all nineteen shells tested, and some room for improvement- at 24 oz it's the heaviest climbing shell tested. The Latok is our top choice for a "budget" bomber mountaineering shell.
The Arcteryx Alpha SV ($200 more) represents the ultimate in simplicity and function, and boasts a slew of well refined climbing specific features. The Alpha SV is as durable as the Latok, slightly shorter in length, has welded construction, a slightly more ergonomic cut, and has similar crossover chest pockets but no handpockets. Consequently, the Alpha SV is roughly 7 ounces lighter than the Latok- a significant difference.
Our top rated lightweight hardshell is the Arcteryx Alpha FL. This piece weighs a mere 10.7 ounces and boasts a helmet compatible hood and full-length zipper. This is our favorite hardshell for backpacking.
The 14.1 oz Patagonia Super Pluma is out top rated all-purpose hardshell, and the winner of our Editor’s Choice Award. Go for the Super Pluma if you want one shell for skiing, hiking, climbing, and everything else. It's a full ten ounces lighter than the Latok.
For those on a budget we recommend the Rab Stretch Neo. Available for around $350 this jacket is nearly half the price of the Arcteryx Alpha SV, weighs nearly the same amount, and has nearly the same feature set. It's an excellent value.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Rab Latok presents the best value in bombproof mountaineering hardshell jackets. This portable fortress offers complete weather protection regardless of the conditions. One tester commented that he felt like he "was wearing a tank."
The Latok is built with three layer eVent (arguably more brathable than Gore-Tex) and has a midweight ripstop nylon face fabric in the body and reinforced arms and shoulders.
The Latok has the best expedition style pocket design of all nineteen hardshells tested!! This alone is a reason to buy the jacket; the two handwarmer pockets are set high (above a waistbelt) and are marvelously comfortable for your hands, and the crossover chest pockets are easy to open. The Latok's pocket design is something that should be copied by many other shells. We can't overstate how good it is.
The Latok fits like an expedition style jacket. It's cut longer than average, providing extra storm protection when you have your arms overhead, and there's plenty of space for layering up when the temperatures drop. The Latok has the longest cut of all shells tested.
The Latok has several significant drawbacks. First, at 24.1 oz. it's the heaviest hardshell we tested. 24 ounces is a lot!! For the same weight you could nearly carry one Katabatic Gear Sawatch 15 degree sleeping bag or two full length Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite sleeping pads. The added weight is felt while wearing the jacket- it feels ever so slightly more restrictive than medium duty shells (~6 oz lighter)- and especially while carrying it. The Latok is also the bulkiest shell we tested.
Best Application and Value
The Latok is best suited to big mountain expeditions or extended trips into remote areas. It's a full $200 cheaper than our top rated expedition shell, the Arcteryx Alpha SV, and is therefore an excellent choice for budget conscious adventurers and mountaineers who want something super bombproof.
— Max Neale
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: June 26, 2012
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