Rab Latok Review
Cons: Heavy, chest pockets not waterproof, too many extra features
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Rab Latok is made with the same waterproof Gore-Tex Pro membrane that you find on many of the other top-scoring jackets for weather protection. The Latok, however, suffers from a few design issues that prevent it from being a top-scorer. First is the hood, which has a brim that wasn't quite stiff enough to keep water out of the jacket when our tester wasn't wearing a helmet during our shower test.
Another issue is the zippers on the external chest pockets. A tiny opening at the bottom of these zippers allows water in. Water likely won't travel from there up inside the jacket, but enough water can get in to damage a phone or any other electronics you might be storing there.
This jacket is a true behemoth, weighing almost twice as much as the lightest hardshells we tested. A size large measured 21.2 ounces on our scale. It's also massive, taking up considerably more pack space than other hardshells. This makes the Latok a poor choice for any sort of light and fast mission, such as climbing the actual Latok I in Pakistan.
Mobility and Fit
The Latok fit a little looser than a lot of the other jackets we tried. This could be great for cold conditions when you need to don extra mid layers. The loose fit, however, isn't especially stylish strolling around town or functional for high-intensity winter activities. We can report that the hood and sleeves did an excellent job staying in place during a variety of movements while backcountry skiing and ice climbing.
Venting and Breathability
The Gore-Tex Pro membrane and sturdy 70-denier fabric result in a jacket that breathed a little worse than average in our stationary bike test. To overcome this deficiency, the Latok has a two-way main zipper and underarm vents to help ensure air circulation. The weight and fit of this jacket make it less than ideal for fast-paced activities, so its poor breathability doesn't dramatically impact the jacket's usefulness.
Features and Design
The main reason the Latok is so heavy is because it includes many extra features. Like most hardshells, it sports a pair of external chest pockets to go along with an internal zippered stash pocket and a mesh drop pocket. However, this jacket also includes an extra set of hand pockets and pit zips.
The Latok is also rare among hardshells in featuring a fourth hood drawcord to adjust the fit around the neck and an accessory drawcord to tighten the fabric across the lower back. There is also a long Velcro flap to secure the hood if you want to roll it up. While some shoppers may appreciate these frills, our minimalist testers found most of them to be unnecessary.
The Latok costs slightly more than average for a hardshell, but at this price, you get a heavy-duty jacket that's ready to tackle the harshest conditions. Although we wish it were a little lighter, it's one of the cheapest models that's suitable for a full-on expedition, and it, therefore, presents a reasonable value.
In recent years many North American gear makers have adopted the light and fast ethos wholeheartedly, trimming every conceivable ounce from their entire clothing line. With the Latok, the British designers at Rab demonstrate a different philosophy that also includes an emphasis on durability and comfort. Although most of our testers were less than enthused with this jacket's extraneous features, we know there are customers out there who will love them.
— Jack Cramer