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Rab Microlight Alpine Review

Excellent for wet weather because it has all the features to ensure the down stays dry
Rab Microlight Alpine
Photo: Rab
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $280 List | $209.96 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Water resistant hydrophobic down, great DWR coating, well thought-out features
Cons:  750 fill-power down is good but not as light or lofty as others
Manufacturer:   Rab
By Buck Yedor & Adam Paashaus  ⋅  Nov 3, 2020
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79
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 12
  • Warmth - 30% 8
  • Weight - 20% 7
  • Water Resistance - 15% 9
  • Fit - 15% 8
  • Compressibility - 10% 6
  • Features - 10% 9

Our Verdict

If you commonly experience wet weather on your adventures but aren't willing to part with all the advantages of down — like its low weight, long life, and great packability — then look no further than the Rab Microlight Alpine. This hoody combines a super tightly woven "downproof" Pertex Quantum face fabric with a superb DWR coating and recycled hydrophobic 700-fill power down. The hood is an excellent size and has a brim to help keep light rain out of your face. While this jacket isn't waterproof, it is exceptionally water-resistant and accomplishes this while remaining comfortable, lightweight, and compressible. We love the advantages of down and appreciate that Rab has made a down hoody that can hold up its nemesis — water.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Rab Microlight Alpine
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award  Top Pick Award 
Price $209.96 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$324.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$399.00 at Backcountry$339.00 at Feathered Friends$286.73 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Water resistant hydrophobic down, great DWR coating, well thought-out featuresIncredibly light, compact, warm for its size and weight, effective hydrophobic downWarm, feature laden, compressible900+ fill down, warm, lightweight, incredibly compressible, competitively pricedLightweight, stylish, high warmth to weight ratio
Cons 750 fill-power down is good but not as light or lofty as othersNo hood cinch, no chest pocketHeavy, bulky fitHood a little tight to fit over a helmet, no hood adjustmentExpensive, not super durable
Bottom Line Pertex Microlight face fabric, Nikwax treated down, and a quality DWR coating make this one water resistant hoodyOffers high versatility, comfort, accommodation of movement, and light weightThis belay parka will keep you warm on the coldest daysThis no-nonsense performance model has everything you need in a lightweight packageIf you are looking for a warm, light layer for a trip where ounces count, this jacket is a great selection
Rating Categories Rab Microlight Alpine Ghost Whisperer/2 Patagonia Fitz Roy Hooded Feathered Friends Eos Arc'teryx Cerium SL Hoody
Warmth (30%)
8
9
10
9
6
Weight (20%)
7
9
6
7
9
Water Resistance (15%)
9
8
7
7
7
Fit (15%)
8
9
7
8
9
Compressibility (10%)
6
9
7
8
10
Features (10%)
9
8
9
7
8
Specs Rab Microlight... Ghost Whisperer/2 Patagonia Fitz Roy... Feathered Friends... Arc'teryx Cerium...
Down Fill 700 fill recylced hydrophobic down 800-fill RDS certified, down insulation 800-fill goose down 900+ goose down 850-fill goose down
Total Weight 16.4 oz 8.5 oz 22.3 oz 13 oz 8.4 oz
Baffle Construction Sewn-through baffles Sewn-through baffles Sewn-through baffles Sewn-through baffles Sewn-through
Main Fabric Pertex Quantum Recycled polyester ripstop, DWR finish Recycled nylon ripstop Pertex Quantum with a DWR Pertex Quantum Arato 7 nylon
Compression Method Stuff sack Zips into pocket Stuffs into pocket Stuff sack Included stuff sack
Pockets 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered chest 2 zippered hand 2 hand, 2 internal, 1 chest 2 zippered hand 2 zippered hand
Hoodless Option? Yes Yes No No Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Rab Microlight Alpine is an excellent pick if you need something for light use in wet weather. It has just about everything we look for in a quality down jacket — decent warmth, compressibility, relative lightweight, and comfortable fit — while pulling off the best combination of weather-resistant technologies. If you want the best water resistance, you can buy, but still want your down jacket to act as a down jacket, look no further than the Microlight Alpine.

Performance Comparison


The Microlight doing what it does during the first big snow of the...
The Microlight doing what it does during the first big snow of the season. The wire-reinforced brim does a nice job keeping snow out of our tester's face.
Photo: Matt Bento

Warmth


When it comes to warmth, we felt that this jacket was on par with other light-weight models in our review, despite using a "lower-quality" 700 fill-power down.


While 700 fill-power down is not the highest lofting down used in the jackets we tested, it is still pretty light. This jacket seemingly uses plenty of down in the moderately sized sewn-through baffles and pairs that with the most easily sealed off face enclosure. A few of the higher scoring down jackets are warmer, but this does a great job of combining moderate warmth with a slew of other great traits.

With only 750 fill-power, this jacket has to use a little extra down...
With only 750 fill-power, this jacket has to use a little extra down to keep the loft high enough, but this jacket is just as warm as many of the others in the test.

Weight


Our size men's medium hoody weighed in at 16.5 ounces. This weight is not too shabby but had they gone with a higher fill power down and a few weight-saving construction methods, it could have been more competitive in this metric.


Looking for hoodless or extra long?
Like many of the hoodies featured in this comparative review, you can also find a hoodless version, the Rab Microlight Jacket. This jacket is essentially the same but has a wrap-around collar in place of the hood, making it easier to layer over. You can also buy the hoody in a long version for the same price as the normal size.

Water Resistance


This jacket combines Nikwax treated hydrophobic down with Pertex Quantum face fabric and a solid DWR coating to provide what is, in our opinion, the best water resistance that we have found in a down jacket.


In our testing, the DWR coating worked well, forcing all of the water we sprayed on it to quickly bead and fall off, even after months of testing had given the coating ample time to wear off, as they are prone to do. The performance of the DWR coating was on par with that found on the best jackets on the market today. While it isn't waterproof, no other contender offered the same combination of water-resistant features; combine these features with the deep wire-brimmed hood that uses the same design as hardshell jackets to keep water from falling into the face, and we were convinced. This was the best down jacket for wet weather that still preserved all the attributes that make down advantageous in the first place.

The Columbia jacket may be "waterproof", but it doesn't perform...
The Columbia jacket may be "waterproof", but it doesn't perform anywhere near as well as the Rab Microlight Alpine in any other metric. This is both high performing and super weather-resistant to boot.

Fit


The Microlight Alpine is considered a slim fit. It was large enough around the torso that we felt no constriction whatsoever, which is more than we can say about some other trim fitting jackets in the lineup.


The coat has a loose enough fit that wearing a layer underneath is no problem. We love the length of the sleeves and hem, but if you are especially tall, you can order this hoody in a "long" version. If we have to make one minor complaint, we felt the collar was slightly snug around our neck when we chose not to wear the hood, but we still feel that this jacket has a nearly perfect fit.

This jacket had an excellent fit, even for our long-armed testers.
This jacket had an excellent fit, even for our long-armed testers.

Compressibility


This jacket comes with a dedicated stuff sack that has a huge clip-in loop.


The jacket is relatively easy to stuff in its stuff-sack but is a bit bigger and bulkier when fully stuffed due to it only having a 700 fill power and heavier fabrics and zippers. Compared to other jackets meant to be used for climbing, the compressibility was rather poor.

The stuff sack was on the larger size and packed tighter than some...
The stuff sack was on the larger size and packed tighter than some other jackets, but that's to be expected from a 750-fill jacket with durable fabrics and a decent feature set.

Features


When we are closer to the front country, and packability and weight are less of an issue, we love a feature-laden jacket; this is one of the most well-featured jackets in our test. The hood on this jacket incorporates dual side-of-the-face drawcords that are super easy to cinch up the hood around the face for a great weather seal when it's bitterly cold out; this makes it the most adjustable hood and accomplishes the best seal against the elements. However, the "cord-locks" don't have a button to release tension, and instead, you need to use two hands to manually pull slack back through, which was quite challenging to do with gloved hands.


While the hood uses manual-release cord-locks that require two hands to loosen, the hem uses two standard cord-locks that are much easier to release, even with gloves on. However, they leave a loop of cord dangling down below the waist, which has the potential to get hung up on trailside branches or carabiners/gear when climbing.

This was on the larger side when packed but not rediculous to throw...
This was on the larger side when packed but not rediculous to throw on the back of a harness.

This jacket also has a small bit of soft fleece to guard the chin, which does an excellent job of keeping your chin from chaffing. The elastic in the cuffs are great for keeping drafts out, and the zippered exterior chest pocket is colossal. We also love that the zippered handwarmer pockets remain accessible, even with a harness on, should you decide to tuck it in for winter climbing. For using it as a belay jacket, a two-way zipper would have been nice to keep the hem down.

The Rab's external chest pocket was a great spot to stash our phone...
The Rab's external chest pocket was a great spot to stash our phone where it would stay warmer so the cold wouldn't zap the battery life.

The Pertex quantum is supposed to be wind and down-proof by way of a super tightly woven fabric, but we did find down feathers poking through from time to time, both on the interior and the exterior fabrics.

A two-way zipper would've been nice for belaying without pulling the...
A two-way zipper would've been nice for belaying without pulling the hem up.
Photo: Matt Bento

Value


This awesome hoody has an average price for a high-end lightweight down hoody. Since we found it to be a high scorer in our comparative rankings, we think that this presents a great value.

The jacket really nails it with the fit and is available in a long...
The jacket really nails it with the fit and is available in a long version for really tall folks.
Photo: Matt Bento

Conclusion


The Rab Microlight Alpine is one of the best down hoodies in our review, combining outstanding water resistance features with notable warmth in a relatively light package. It fit better than most jackets we tried, offering great freedom of movement combined with the ability to layer over or underneath it. Whether you want the advantages of down insulation in a wet climate or simply want an affordable and high quality down jacket for use around town, this is one that we highly recommend.

Buck Yedor & Adam Paashaus