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Rab Nebula Pro Review

With hi loft, water-resistant insulation, this jacket is a great option for staying warm on cold, damp days, and doesn't break the bank
Rab Nebula Pro
Photo: Backcountry
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Price:  $220 List | $219.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Very warm, great features set, packs away easily
Cons:  Not the lightest
Manufacturer:   Rab Equipment
By Matt Bento ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 12, 2021
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68
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 13
  • Warmth - 25% 9
  • Weight and Compressibility - 20% 3
  • Comfort - 20% 8
  • Weather Resistance - 20% 8
  • Breathability - 15% 5

Our Verdict

The Rab Nebula Pro is an excellent choice for staying toasty from fall to spring and makes for a good midlayer on the colder, windier days. It features Cirrus HL insulation, a synthetic material that's water-resistant and much less expensive (but not as light) than down. This jacket is affordable, but still has an excellent fit and design and hosts a full cadre of features, including a two-way zipper, a DWR treated Pertex shell, and a handy stuff sack.

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Pros Very warm, great features set, packs away easilyLight, easily stowable, very weather resistantWarm, good water resistance, comfortable, excellent mobility, stylish, durableLightweight, warm, great wind protection, sheds water well, affordableVery comfortable, great fit, breathable, impressively warm, great mobility
Cons Not the lightestDoesn't breathe, expensiveExpensive, annoying hem cinching buckles, not the lightestDoesn’t breathe well, fit isn’t very athleticPricey, not as warm as thicker layers, doesn’t stuff into itself
Bottom Line With hi loft, water-resistant insulation, this jacket is a great option for staying warm on cold, damp days, and doesn't break the bankWhen it comes to features, this jacket has everything you need and nothing you don'tThe top overall performer among the active insulating jacketsThe best lightweight insulated outer layer is highly wind resistant and impressively warmThe ideal active insulated layer combines lightweight mobility and great breathability, yet still wards off the chill during cold weather
Rating Categories Rab Nebula Pro Arc'teryx Nuclei FL Arc'teryx Proton LT... Rab Xenon Hoodie Arc'teryx Atom LT H...
Warmth (25%)
9.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
5.0
Weight And Compressibility (20%)
3.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
7.0
Comfort (20%)
8.0
7.0
9.0
6.0
9.0
Weather Resistance (20%)
8.0
8.0
6.0
8.0
5.0
Breathability (15%)
5.0
5.0
7.0
5.0
9.0
Specs Rab Nebula Pro Arc'teryx Nuclei FL Arc'teryx Proton LT... Rab Xenon Hoodie Arc'teryx Atom LT H...
Measured Weight (size) 20.3 oz (S) 10.5 oz (S) 12.8 oz (S) 11.0 oz (S) 12.2 oz (S)
Insulation Cirrus HL Coreloft (65g/m²) Coreloft Compact 80 60 g Stratus 60 g/m2 Coreloft Compact w/ Stretch Fleece panels on sides
Outer Fabric Pertex Quantum Pro (30D recycled nylon) Arato (10D nylon ripstop) Fortius Air 20 Atmos ripstop 20D Nylon Tyono
Stuffs Into Itself? Includes stuff sack Yes Yes, clip loop Yes, clip loop No
Hood Option? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Number of Pockets 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered chest 2 zippered hand, 2 internal 2 insulated zippered hand, 1 zippered chest 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered internal chest 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered internal chest

Our Analysis and Test Results

Hailing from the frosty moors and icy crags of Scotland, Rab knows a thing or two about recreating in "full" conditions, where you might encounter ice in all its forms, be it falling from the sky, blowing sideways, melting, or raining down in chunks — before you eventually make it back to the pub for warmth and safety. The Scottish climbing scene has a blue-collar feel due to its wild weather and colorful cast of characters that enjoy climbing there. The Rab Nebula Pro reflects this environment, as its design prioritizes warmth and weather resistance over weight savings, includes a handful of comfortable, useful features, and isn't too hard on your wallet. To top things off, Rab uses a ton of recycled materials — without sacrificing a smidge of quality.

Performance Comparison


This jacket packs a ton of warmth but isn't very breathable. It's...
This jacket packs a ton of warmth but isn't very breathable. It's great for belaying (or birdwatching) but not for uphill activities like hiking or skinning.
Photo: Jason Peters

Warmth


The Nebula Pro is one of the warmest jackets in our review. Its big puffy baffles remind us of our favorite down jackets, but the Nebula Pro has some distinctive advantages over down models. For insulation, Rab uses Cirrus HL (approximately 250 grams of the stuff), a 100% recycled material that is down-like in its lofting qualities but heavier, water-resistant and cheaper; feathers won't go flying if you get a small tear.

Additionally, Stratus sheet insulation is used in the shoulders and cuffs. The result is a warm and durable cocoon you can retreat to when you're at belays or even just out for a stroll in the near-freezing drizzle. Full disclosure, the majority of the testing for this jacket occurred in an even drier than average winter in the Eastern Sierra. Our testers didn't battle through a miasma of spindrift, but we did bring it on some chilly multi-pitch climbs, a few ski tours, and to wear around camp. While we were reluctant to leave our giant down puffies at home, we never regretted bringing the Nebula Pro. While it's heavier than some of our favorite down models, it's just as warm.

The Nebula Pro is loaded to the gills with Cirrus high loft...
The Nebula Pro is loaded to the gills with Cirrus high loft insulation, held strategically in place with sewn-through baffles.
Photo: Jason Peters

Weight and Compressibility


This big ol' puff is heavier than most of the other models in our review, and it's also warmer. Our weight metric favor lighter models, but there are plenty of occasions when it's just too cold and "fast and light" becomes "light and dangerous", or more commonly, "light and miserable". In short, sometimes to have more fun, you'll need to carry a little more, and the Nebula Pro is easy to carry.

Rather than cramming it into a stash pocket, you can pack this jacket away into its reasonably-sized included stuff sack. This is a quick and easy process, and the sack includes a clip-in loop so it can ride on your climbing harness and be easily accessible at belays. We actually prefer a stuff sack that the jacket fits in, over stuffing it in a pocket that barely accommodates it — like some of the competition.

Photo: Matt Bento

Comfort


If you're the type that splurges on heated seats and never heads out to the crag without a thermos of hot soup and a stack of handwarmers, you'll love the Nebula Pro. This jacket is chock full of comfortable features. Starting with the heavily insulated hood, we like the rigid brim that directs precip out of the face. On the back of the hood, there is a rigid, vertically oriented strip that can be positioned with Velcro; this allows you to adjust how low the brim sits in front of the face. The hood also fits nicely over a helmet.


There is a super-soft lining on the front of the collar, so there's always something comfy against your face when the zipper is all the way up. That would be a two-way zipper, by the way, making belay loops, flys, and belt buckles easily accessible without any heat loss. Elastic cuffs allow you to put the coat on easily with your gloves already on, and Velcro tabs seal in the heat. Finally, two large handwarmer pockets can accommodate your big, mittened hands when it's time to hunker down for a while, and a zippered internal chest pocket can keep your bars and camera batteries nice and warm.

The fleece-lined collar is a nice touch and makes this jacket even...
The fleece-lined collar is a nice touch and makes this jacket even more comfy.
Photo: Jason Peters

Weather Resistance


If you stick an inch and a half of hi-lofting insulation, a 30 denier nylon shell, and a healthy slathering of DWR treatment between you and blowing snow, you're not going to feel the blowing snow. The Nebula thrives in this type of environment. To really test water resistance, we stood in the shower, let the water blast, and recorded what happened. After a few minutes, there was a noticeable amount of water coming in around the baffle seams. This didn't happen with some other models that don't have baffles or have wielded baffles. That being said, if we expect a downpour scenario, the Nebula isn't the type of jacket we'd pack.

When it comes to wind resistance, we didn't experience any points of weakness when ski touring and wearing this jacket on windy ridges.

While this model isn't as expensive as some of its competitors, it...
While this model isn't as expensive as some of its competitors, it still has a fully adjustable hood to keep out the wind and spindrift.
Photo: Jason Peters

Breathability


We don't suggest putting on this jacket and going for a sprint, and neither does Rab. Breathability is not a priority for this highly insulative, weather-resistant jacket. There are no pit zips or vented mesh panels, and in this case, we don't miss them. This jacket isn't a "leave it on all day" model. It's for throwing on top of all your layers and trapping as much heat as possible when you'll be stationary for a while.

This is not a very breathable jacket, but with the hem cinch, you...
This is not a very breathable jacket, but with the hem cinch, you can double down on the warmth and trap extra heat.
Photo: Jason Peters

Value


We've tested jackets that cost twice as much as the Nebula Pro that most definitely are not twice as good. Don't think that the Nebula's lower price point means lower quality, as we believe this jacket is as nice as anything from Patagonia or Arc'teryx. We also appreciate the amount of recycled materials. Its insulation is 100% recycled materials, and the shell fabric is 30% recycled, making it a better value for the planet.

A moldable brim on the hood is just another value-adding feature on...
A moldable brim on the hood is just another value-adding feature on this jacket.
Photo: Jason Peters

Conclusion


The Nebula Pro isn't the most versatile model in our review, but it is an excellent performer for its intended purpose. So, if you're looking for something that's comfortable, packable, and above all warm — that will keep you outside and having fun longer — the Nebula is an obvious choice.

Matt Bento