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.
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.
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" 750 fill-power down.
While 750 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 characteristics.
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.
Our size men's large hoody weighed in at 15.7 ounces. 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.
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 really 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 wasn't quite waterproof, no other jacket 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 anywhere near as well as the Rab Microlight Alpine in any other metric. This is both high performing and super weather-resistant to boot.
The Microlight Alpine is considered a slim fit. For this jacket, we tested a men's size large and found it to offer very close to a perfect 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.
With a size large came a loose enough fit that wearing a layer underneath was no problem, although it snugged things up a bit. We loved the length of the sleeves and hem, and also point out that if you are especially tall, you can order this hoody in a "long" version. If we have to make one minor complaint, it's that 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 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 750 fill power and heavier fabrics and zippers.
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.
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 difficult 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 on the back of a harness.
This jacket also has a small bit of soft fleece to guard the chin, which does a fair job. The elastic in the cuffs do a good job of keeping drafts out, and the zippered exterior chest pocket is colossal. We also love the zippered handwarmer pockets that 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 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 face fabrics.
A two-way zipper would've been nice for belaying without pulling the hem up.
This excellent hoody has about 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 version for really tall folks.
The Rab Microlight Alpine is one of the very best down hoodies in our review, combining exemplary water resistance features with notable warmth in a relatively light package. It fit better than most jackets we tried, offering fantastic 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.