The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Rab Nimbus Review

A synthetic filled version of a down jacket, designed to optimize warmth.
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $215 List | $214.95 at Amazon
Pros:  Warm, affordable, good wind resistance
Cons:  Heavy, not very breathable
Manufacturer:   Rab
By Andy Wellman ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 4, 2019
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67
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 13
  • Warmth - 25% 10
  • Weight - 20% 6
  • Comfort - 20% 5
  • Weather Resistance - 15% 7
  • Breathability - 15% 4
  • Style - 5% 6

Our Verdict

The Rab Nimbus is the warmest insulated jacket that we tested for this review, and is therefore worthy of our Top Pick for Warmth. While it doesn't quite compare to heavy parkas or down jackets, there is no doubt that the thick, Cirrus "featherless" insulation that fills this baffled jacket traps the warmth your body creates. We loved wearing it as a belay jacket, and it was the first one we reached for when we needed to go on cold early morning dog walks and simply wanted to be as warm as possible. It is also one of the most affordable jackets we tested, and this fact, combined with how warm it is, make it an excellent budget alternative to a more expensive down-filled jacket.


Compare to Similar Products

 
This Product
Rab Nimbus
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award  
Price $214.95 at Amazon$136.45 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$239.99 at Amazon
Compare at 3 sellers
$299.00 at REI
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$279.95 at Backcountry
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Pros Warm, affordable, good wind resistanceLightweight, warm, great wind protection, sheds water well, affordableComfortable, very breathable, light, stylishWarm, good water resistance, comfortable, excellent mobility, stylish, durableVery breathable, super comfortable and mobile fit, stylish
Cons Heavy, not very breathableDoesn’t breathe well, fit isn’t very athleticHard to get the proper fit, expensive, poor weather resistance, thinExpensive, annoying hem cinching buckles, not the lightestDoesn’t stuff into pocket, not the lightest, relatively expensive
Bottom Line A synthetic filled version of a down jacket, designed to optimize warmth.The best lightweight insulated outer layer is highly wind resistant and impressively warm.The most iconic active insulated mid-layer offers great breathability.The top overall performer among the active insulating jackets.A hyper mobile and comfortable mid-layer that is slightly heavier and warmer than most similar jackets.
Rating Categories Rab Nimbus Rab Xenon Hoodie Patagonia Nano-Air Hoody Arc'teryx Proton LT Hoody Summit L3 Ventrix 2.0 Hoody
Warmth (25%)
10
0
10
10
0
7
10
0
5
10
0
6
10
0
6
Weight (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
6
10
0
6
Comfort (20%)
10
0
5
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
9
Weather Resistance (15%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
4
10
0
6
10
0
4
Breathability (15%)
10
0
4
10
0
5
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
8
Style (5%)
10
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6
10
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5
10
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9
10
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8
Specs Rab Nimbus Rab Xenon Hoodie Patagonia Nano-Air... Arc'teryx Proton... Summit L3 Ventrix...
Measured Weight (size) 17.0 oz. (L) 11.0 oz. (L) 12.5 oz (M) 14.5 oz (L) 15.5 oz. (L)
Manufacturer Stated Weight (size) 17.8 oz. (L) 12.7 oz. (L) 12.2 oz. (M) 13.2 oz. (M) 15.16 oz. (L)
Insulation Cirrus insulation w/ 3M featherless fibre 60g Stratus 60g FullRange insulation Coreloft Compact 80 60 G Ventrix - 100% Polyester Stretch Synthetic Insulation
Outer Fabric Pertex Quantum Atmos ripstop 100% nylon ripstop Fortius Air 20 (84% nylon, 16% elastane) 40D x 30D + 20D 92 g/m² 94% nylon, 6% elastane
Stuffs Into Itself? Yes, barely, clip loop Yes, clip loop Yes, clip loop No No
Hood Option? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Number of Pockets 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered internal 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered internal chest 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered chest 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered chest 2 zippered hand, 2 zippered chest pockets

Our Analysis and Test Results

For those who are already familiar with the Rab Nimbus, we will let you know that it underwent minor updates this winter. The main difference is that the internal lining fabric is now made of Rab's Atmos, the same fabric used on both the inside and outside of the Rab Xenon. The external face fabric remains Pertex Quantum, a durable and water-resistant fabric.

The Nimbus is designed to be used as an outer layer, with a fit that is spacious enough to be able to put it on over other mid-layers. We sometimes chose to wear it over the top of another lightweight active insulating layer when we stopped moving and got chilled. The cut in the torso is spacious to the point of feeling a bit baggy, while the arms and hemline are a bit shorter than we would prefer. It has a helmet compatible hood, and a single hem drawcord and buckle that helps tighten up the lower seal when needed. The two external hand pockets are zippered, and the left one serves as a stuff sack complete with a clip-in loop. There is also an internal chest pocket with a zipper as well. Like all Rab jackets, this one features a main zipper pull on the left side, which feels backward for most Americans, but which works just the same.

Performance Comparison


The Nimbus is a super warm puffy jacket that makes for a great alternative to down  and is solid at keeping you warm on cold winter days. Testing here on a November hike in the Oregon Cascades where the sun was out  but the temps in the low 30s and a stiff breeze  happy we had something so warm!
The Nimbus is a super warm puffy jacket that makes for a great alternative to down, and is solid at keeping you warm on cold winter days. Testing here on a November hike in the Oregon Cascades where the sun was out, but the temps in the low 30s and a stiff breeze, happy we had something so warm!

Warmth


It's worth pointing out that this review includes only jackets, which are not as heavy, bulky, insulated, or warm as parkas. That said, this is the warmest jacket in this review, an attribute that makes it more than worthy of a Top Pick Award. The insulation used is 8.2 ounces of Cirrus featherless insulation, which must be trapped in place in horizontally oriented baffles, just like a down jacket. This insulation behaves much like down and is not pressed into sheets like most synthetic insulations used in lighter jackets. For this reason, it can re-loft better that one would expect, and has properties similar to 600-fill power down, at least according to Rab.


The difference in warmth provided by the Nimbus compared to the whole fleet of lightweight active insulators is noticeable and drastic. We wore this jacket many mornings where the temperatures were down around 10F, with no layers on underneath except for a T-shirt, and felt plenty warm. Most active insulators don't feel comfortable below about freezing unless you are moving to stay warm. The hood and cuffs use stretchy elastic to seal off openings, although they are not super tight, and the hem has a single, effective, drawcord.

The Cirrus insulation stuffed into this baffled jacket is meant to have properties similar to 600-fill power down  and we had to agree! This jacket was obviously the warmest that we tested with no real debate  and serves as a great coat for battling with winter.
The Cirrus insulation stuffed into this baffled jacket is meant to have properties similar to 600-fill power down, and we had to agree! This jacket was obviously the warmest that we tested with no real debate, and serves as a great coat for battling with winter.

Weight and Compressibility


Our size large jacket weighed 17.0 ounces on our independent scale, although Rab says that a large should average about 17.8 ounces. This is by no means the lightest jacket you can buy, but we wouldn't expect it to be with 8.2 ounces of insulation alone. In fact, it is nearly the heaviest.


Five jackets that stuff into one of their own pockets for easier transport  as well as a nalgene bottle for size reference. On the top left in black -- BD First Light Stretch  Center Mountain Hardwear Kor Strata  Right -- Patagonia Nano-Air. On the Bottom is the Rab Xenon (blue) and Rab Nimbus (orange).
Five jackets that stuff into one of their own pockets for easier transport, as well as a nalgene bottle for size reference. On the top left in black -- BD First Light Stretch, Center Mountain Hardwear Kor Strata, Right -- Patagonia Nano-Air. On the Bottom is the Rab Xenon (blue) and Rab Nimbus (orange).

You can stuff this jacket into one of its zippered hand pockets for easier carrying or clipping to a harness, but it sure isn't easy to do so. The jacket really doesn't want to compress, and the pocket is barely big enough. The zipper pull is also tiny, making it hard to grip as you are trying to zip closed an overfull bundle, so it doesn't gain versatility through this feature.

At around 17 ounces on the scale  you will pay in weight a bit for having so much insulation  but if you want the warmest jacket  trust us  its worth it!
At around 17 ounces on the scale, you will pay in weight a bit for having so much insulation, but if you want the warmest jacket, trust us, its worth it!

Comfort


We did not rate this jacket super high for comfort when comparing it to the other competitors, mostly due to the way it fits, although we should point out that it is not uncomfortable. Personal preference comes slightly into play, and we have to be nitpicky when scoring so many products. Regardless, the internal Atmos fabric is slippery against the skin and smooth to the touch.


The fit of this jacket is on the baggy side  with plenty of extra space in the mid-section. This didn't make it uncomfortable  but also ensured that we only used it as a terminal outer layer  and not underneath other jackets.
The fit of this jacket is on the baggy side, with plenty of extra space in the mid-section. This didn't make it uncomfortable, but also ensured that we only used it as a terminal outer layer, and not underneath other jackets.

Where we took a bit of issue is the shape of the jacket. The belly and chest areas are a bit round, while the hem is quite high and easily rides up when we lift our arms above our head. The sleeves are a little bit short when moving the arms about as well, and we experienced a slight bit of constriction in the shoulders and armpits. Because of this sub-optimal mobility, this is not a jacket we would usually recreate in, but one we put on while not recreating.

A nice touch on the inside of the collar is this strip of soft grey fabric that feels nice where it rubs against our chin and effectively covers up the zipper.
A nice touch on the inside of the collar is this strip of soft grey fabric that feels nice where it rubs against our chin and effectively covers up the zipper.

Weather Resistance


The Nimbus is a high scorer when it comes to weather resistance. The Pertex Quantum face fabric does a great job of protecting one from the wind, which also adds to its ability to keep one warm.


In our testing for water resistance, we found that the DWR coating applied to the face was one of the best. It caused torrents of water to bead up and run off in rivulets. While the fabric did eventually become soaked in our excessive testing that far outdid an average rain or drizzle, the jacket did not soak through, staying dry on the inside.

Living in the high desert and testing jackets in the fall  there was little opportunity to experience rain  so we sprayed them with the hose instead! This jacket was one of the better ones at resisting water and wind.
Living in the high desert and testing jackets in the fall, there was little opportunity to experience rain, so we sprayed them with the hose instead! This jacket was one of the better ones at resisting water and wind.

One of the significant advantages of synthetic jackets is that they retain their loft and warmth when wet, so this jacket presents an ideal option if you want the warmth of down but live in a very wet climate.

The DWR coating on Rab jackets is quite effective  and did a good job of forcing water to bead up and run off. The Pertex Quantum face fabric is also solid in the wind.
The DWR coating on Rab jackets is quite effective, and did a good job of forcing water to bead up and run off. The Pertex Quantum face fabric is also solid in the wind.

Breathability


The Pertex Quantum fabric on the face of the jacket in conjunction with the Atmos fabric on the inside are not very air permeable, which negatively affects the breathability of the jacket. In our testing, we felt much hotter and sweatier in this jacket than we did in the more air-permeable stretch jackets we compared it against.


That's okay, though, because this isn't a jacket that is designed to be worn when you are working up a sweat. If we got hot, the best option is to simply take it off and put it on again when you stop moving and need to stay warm. We like it for belaying at the crag, donning at the top of the skin track, wearing all day under a shell when skiing on lifts, or even wearing while out hiking in cold weather where we aren't working up a sweat.

Wearing this warm jacket on uphill repeats to test breathability felt like some form of exercise torture. It is not very air permeable  and not very breathable. If you get too hot  we highly recommend taking it off!
Wearing this warm jacket on uphill repeats to test breathability felt like some form of exercise torture. It is not very air permeable, and not very breathable. If you get too hot, we highly recommend taking it off!

Style


While we wouldn't call this jacket super stylish, we would say that it looks exactly like a down or puffy jacket that most outdoorsy folks wear pretty much all winter. We wouldn't choose it for its looks, but also wouldn't hesitate to wear it anytime it's cold outside.


This jacket looks pretty much like your average down jacket  complete with horizontal baffling. We wish the hem was a bit lower cut.
This jacket looks pretty much like your average down jacket, complete with horizontal baffling. We wish the hem was a bit lower cut.

Value


The Nimbus is one of the more affordable jackets in this review, and is a perfect example of the price savings that can be had by choosing synthetic insulation instead of down. Since it is very competitively priced and one of the better choices according to our testing, we think it is a good value.

At an affordable price point  this jacket packs a ton of warmth  making it not only a great value  but also a good substitute for down if you are on a budget. Here strolling through a burnt out section of forest along the PCT in central Oregon.
At an affordable price point, this jacket packs a ton of warmth, making it not only a great value, but also a good substitute for down if you are on a budget. Here strolling through a burnt out section of forest along the PCT in central Oregon.

Conclusion


The Rab Nimbus wins our Top Pick for Warmth because it is the warmest choice reviewed here. If you are looking for a warm, but very affordable, puffy jacket for all of your winter survival chores and fun activities, this is the best choice.

Throwing sticks for the dog Rishi at North Mathieu Lake along the PCT in Oregon on a November day before the snows come and the lake freezes  we enjoyed having our warm Nimbus that we layered over the top of a lighter mid-layer to stay warm in the wind.
Throwing sticks for the dog Rishi at North Mathieu Lake along the PCT in Oregon on a November day before the snows come and the lake freezes, we enjoyed having our warm Nimbus that we layered over the top of a lighter mid-layer to stay warm in the wind.


Andy Wellman