The Rab Microlight Alpine is one of the more durable and well-rounded jackets in this review. Not only does it perform solidly across our testing metrics, it also costs less than much of the competition, winning it our Best Buy award. This jacket allows for an excellent range of movement and resists abrasion. The Pertex Quantum material seals out wind very well and keeps warm air inside, which increases warmth beyond what we normally expect from the 700-fill down in this jacket. We love to wear it around town or layer it under a hardshell when the going gets tough. It's a great all-around down jacket that could spend all day outside and still look clean and sharp, even when we felt dirty and exhausted.Editor's Note: This review was updated on November 7, 2022, to reflect our testing of the updated version of the Microlight Alpine.
Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket - Women's Review
Cons: Narrower baffles compress down; slightly lower quality (recycled) 700 fill down
Compare to Similar Products
Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket - Women's
$280.00 at REI
|$385.00 at Backcountry|
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|$211.24 at Backcountry|
Compare at 3 sellers
Check Price at REI
$99.95 at REI
|Pros||Durable, weather resistant, athletic cut, good movement, versatile||Warm, lightweight, comfortable, length adds warmth||Incredibly light, compact, warm for its size and weight, packs into its own pocket, recycled||Lightweight, well placed synthetic insulation, versatile||Inexpensive, lightweight|
|Cons||Narrower baffles compress down; slightly lower quality (recycled) 700 fill down||Expensive, not likely your single-quiver down jacket||No way to cinch the hood, lighter materials are more fragile||Less durable than some models, expensive||Less warm, lower quality down|
|Bottom Line||A durable, versatile, and very comfortable jacket that can handle many activities, from mountain to town||An impressively warm option that offers top of the line performance, particularly for alpine adventures||It's as light as a ghost, or so we assume, and boasts incredible warmth for the weight||An outstanding down jacket for layering in cold conditions, well suited to activities that require adept moisture management||This is a very light, entry-level down jacket for moderate temperatures|
|Rating Categories||Rab Microlight Alpine||Rab Neutrino Pro -...||Mountain Hardwear G...||Arc'teryx Cerium LT...||REI Co-op 650 2.0|
|Water Resistance (5%)|
|Specs||Rab Microlight Alpine||Rab Neutrino Pro -...||Mountain Hardwear G...||Arc'teryx Cerium LT...||REI Co-op 650 2.0|
|Down Fill||Recycled 700 fill-power down||800FP European Goose Down, hydrophobic||800 fill goose down||850 fill down||650 fill goose down|
|Main Fabric||Recycled 30D nylon Pertex® Quantum ripstop||20D recycled Pertex® Quantum Pro||7D x 10D recycled ripstop nylon||Arato 10D nylon||Recycled nylon taffeta|
|Measured Weight||13.5 oz||18.5 oz||8 oz||9.5 oz||9.5 oz|
|Stowing option||Stuff sack||Stuff sack||Packs into hand pocket||Stuff sack||Packs into hand pocket|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Rab Microlight Alpine is a highly versatile jacket. It's made with recycled materials — recycled 700 fill down and recycled 30D nylon Pertex fabric — that make this midweight jacket more sustainable and yet protective and durable. It's a lower-cost option and is an excellent choice as an all-rounder.
The Microlight Alpine is impressively warm for its weight and size. The latest version now features recycled 700-fill power down (previously was 750-fill down), making this a midweight jacket rather than one built for seriously cold temps. Rab also used Pertex Quantum fabric (a type of nylon) which is designed to keep wind out and still air in, translating to less heat loss and more efficient insulation (by stopping so much air from flowing into and out of the baffles). Adjustability around the hem and hood add another layer of protection when the winds really pick up.
This jacket consistently surprised us with its ability to keep us warm given its relatively slim appearance. It beat out several other impressive contenders in this metric largely due to its impermeability to the wind. Even among jackets with a similar loft, the heavier fabric of the Microlight keeps the wind chill better at bay. Its shape also improves the warmth of the Microlight. The drop hem in the back of the jacket helps cover our bums from the cold, and the tapered waist makes it more form-fitting, leaving less space for wind to fly up and chill us.
Despite its name, the Microlight is not the most micro nor the most light in this review. It's still plenty light enough to earn a spot in your backpack, especially given its strong performance against wind and abrasion. The size S we tested weighs 13.3 ounces without its (included) stuff sack.
We liked this jacket best for single-pitch rock climbing in particular, where we were less concerned about ultralight equipment and more concerned about durability, warmth while belaying, and sealing ourselves up from the crisp fall winds at our favorite crags. It also came in handy on fall car camping trips, great for hiking the blustery Western landscapes or sitting around camp at night and staring at the stars.
The Microlight didn't steal the show when it comes to compressibility, either. However, it's still packable enough to be a logical choice for a lightweight mountaineering mission or a multi-pitch rock climb in more moderate temperatures. It packs into a well-designed stuff sack that is easy to clip to a climbing harness and features a sturdy, reflective clipping strap.
Getting the jacket into the sack was quite easy. It has a large enough opening and just enough space to fit without having to sit down and cram it. The hood's stiffened brim didn't present any problems when packing it away. While we appreciate how easy this process was, we prefer jackets that can pack into their own pockets. A small stuff sack like the one that comes with the Microlight can be lost, which leaves you with no way to pack your jacket effectively.
When it comes to features, the Microlight has a ton of subtleties that make it very versatile and one of our all-around favorites. It's comfortable to wear, and this is due to a thoughtful assemblage of features that come in handy for regular everyday wear as much as on a heavy climbing day.
The hood is very comfortable, with or without a helmet. It cinches easily with a simple, lightweight stopper. Like most Rab jackets, the Microlight hood also features a stiffened brim that acts as a mini visor, helping to keep falling snow out of your eyes. As the internal wire is flattened and not round, it's easy to adjust, and we never had any issues getting it to hold whatever shape we desired. The hood is also adjustable on both sides of your face, with elastic bungees and lightweight plastic stoppers that keep it neat and tidy, even as you pull it tight against howling winds. A soft felt chin guard made us feel even warmer.
Though it sounds like such a simple feature, we love the raglan sleeves, which help the Microlight to fit a wide variety of shoulder widths while still allowing the full range of motion for your arms. An exterior zippered chest pocket comes in handy for keeping things close even as you wear a harness or backpack. As it's on the outside of the jacket, you don't have to unzip yourself and lose precious body heat to access it. The chest pocket is one of our favorite (and often overlooked) features — it gives you a spot to keep your phone, topo, and snacks, warm and accessible. There's nothing worse than a quickly drained cold phone battery or tooth-ripping cold gummy shot blocks.
As with all of our favorite mountain-ready jackets, this one also features an adjustable drawcord at the bottom hem, allowing you to seal out any cold drafts. But Rab added one more finishing touch; they extended the back panel down to create a drop hem. When worn uncinched, this lowered hem fully covered our bums, adding extra warmth and keeping our torsos covered even with arms raised.
Despite being made of mostly recycled materials, the Microlight scored very well in our durability tests. The 30D Pertex Quantum nylon is thicker than most others we tested and during our months of wear, held up well to abrasion, resisting snags with its slightly stiffer texture. Its ripstop material features finer reinforced stitching, leaving less space to tear open between grid lines.
The jacket fits close to the body, which also helps keep it out of harm's way as you walk past sharp and pokey obstacles. The zippers and hardware are durable plastic with fine features we have no complaints about. We have no complaints about the durability of this jacket and had a hard time even finding any durability issues from other users online.
The Pertex Quantum fabric the Microlight is made of is designed primarily to block the wind. While it's not specifically designed to repel fabric, the same technology that rebuffs wind also helps to repel some water. In addition, Rab has treated this jacket with a DWR coating to help keep you dry if you do get caught outside without a shell.
The Microlight proved itself very water-resistant, never wetting out on drippy ice climbs or when we got caught in a sudden flurry of wet snow. During fall and winter in the Pacific Northwest, we often find ourselves dashing from one place to the next through deluges, downpours, sprinkles, and mist. In every case, the Microlight repelled water and never let the down inside get wet. We could shake off the precipitation and carry on with our day. This is certainly a feature that will wear off as the DWR coating wears out, but it proved durable in our months of testing. It quickly became one of our favorite around-town jackets.
Should You Buy the Rab Microlight Alpine?
The Microlight is a moderately priced, midweight down jacket. It has plenty of features that make it a great performance piece but is still comfortable and versatile enough for everyday wear. Given its high score overall, its impressive durability, and its impeccable versatility, this jacket is an excellent value for just about anyone.
What Other Down Jackets Should You Consider?
The Rab Microlight Alpine Hoody is a superb all-around medium weight down jacket. If you need something a little thicker and warmer, the Rab Neutrino Pro has a lot of the same features and is one of the warmest jackets we tested. If weight and compressibility are your number one concerns, the ultralight, super packable Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer 2 is what we'd recommend.
— Maggie Nichols and Lyra Pierotti
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