Hands-on Gear Review

Rab Vital Windshell Review

Top Pick Award
Price:  $99 List | $98.95 at MooseJaw
Pros:  Great pocket space, neck snap for venting, brim gives some sun protection.
Cons:  Hood brim is goofy looking, internal pocket low, not the best breathability.
Bottom line:  A solid jacket at a great price. The pocket options were best in class.
Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Measured Weight, size L:  5.0 oz
Pockets:  3 zip (2 hand & 1 inside)
Material:  20D nylon
Manufacturer:   Rab

Our Verdict

We gave the Vital a Top Pick award because it performs admirably and is packed with pockets. While we don't like it quite as much as the old Rab Windveil Jacket, it still rocks. It has by far the most pocket space and comes with lots of little innovations. There is a brim for keeping water out of your face and a snap across the chest for keeping the jacket in place even when it's fully unzipped. We still recommend the Patagonia Houdini to most people because it's lighter, vents better, and has a better DWR coating. However, the Houdini has very little pocket space.



RELATED REVIEW: The Best Windbreaker Jackets For Men


Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Chris McNamara

Last Updated:
Wednesday
May 9, 2018

Share:

Performance Comparison


The unique "extra visor" on the hood looks a little goofy but keeps water out.
The unique "extra visor" on the hood looks a little goofy but keeps water out.

Wind Resistance


This is one of the more wind resistant jackets we tested. On fast bike descents on cold mornings, we stayed relatively warm. It scored at the top for this metric. The old Windveil was not quite as wind resistant.

Breathability and Venting


This is where the Vital came up a bit short. In side-by-side tests, while hiking and biking uphill, the Rab felt more clammy inside than the Houdini. This is due to the material and the fact there are so many pockets. It's predecessor, the Windveil, had mesh pockets. If you unzipped the pockets, air could pass in and out. And there was just one layer of nylon. The Vital has pockets lined with nylon. This keeps your sweat from getting to the pocket contents, but it also reduces your venting options.

One cool venting feature it has is a snap across the chest. This allows you to keep the jacket in place, even when fully unzipped.

The snap across the neck allows the jacket to stay in place  even when fully unzipped.
The snap across the neck allows the jacket to stay in place, even when fully unzipped.

Weight and Packability



This is a light jacket, but about 40 percent heavier than the Houdini. It conveniently packs into its own pocket and has a secure clip loop. For most people, this is plenty small.

At 4.7 oz for size large  this was one of the lighter jackets in the review.
At 4.7 oz for size large, this was one of the lighter jackets in the review.

You can see how the size compares with the Houdini below. The Houdini is about half the size. For some people, this is not a big deal. However, if you are trying to get the Vital in a bike bag or other tight space, the Houdini has a clear advantage.

Rab Vital (left)  Houdini (center) and sunglasses for scale.
Rab Vital (left), Houdini (center) and sunglasses for scale.

Fit and Functionality


This jacket has three large pockets: two large hand pockets and a big internal pocket. This allows more storage than just about any other wind jacket available. You can easily fit gloves, a hat, your wallet and more. This is a key distinction with the Vital — you can easily integrate it into your everyday life. With the Houdini or other jackets with just one pocket, you're always on the hunt for a place to put energy bars or extra stuff.

The Vital comes with large hand pockets.
The Vital comes with large hand pockets.

The large internal pocket. This is also the pocket that the jacket stuffs into.
The large internal pocket. This is also the pocket that the jacket stuffs into.

Water Resistance


We're not super impressed with the DWR coating. Below you can see how the water beads on the Patagonia Houdini but starts to soak in on the Vital. We recommend looking at ways to enhance the DWR coating with third-party products if you plan to encounter much rain.
Water beads on the Houdini (right) but soaks into the Rab Vital.
Water beads on the Houdini (right) but soaks into the Rab Vital.

Best Applications


This is a great everyday jacket. All the pocket space allows plenty of storage. If hiking, you can keep everything you need handy, whether it's a map or energy bar. We found this contender better for hikers than for runners or bikers.

Value


This is the best value we've seen in a wind jacket that has pockets.

Conclusion


While this jacket did not win Editors' Choice, it still may be the best option for you if you want the extra pocket space.

Chris McNamara

You Might Also Like

OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: May 9, 2018
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
 (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 100%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


Have you used this product?
Don't hold back. Share your viewpoint by posting a review with your thoughts...