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Rab Nucleus Hoody - Women's Review

This light fleece is a high-performance layer that is breathable and comfortable.
Rab Nucleus Hoody
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Price:  $140 List | $139.95 at Amazon
Pros:  Lightweight, breathable, full-length zipper and a hood
Cons:  Not very warm, no weather resistance
Manufacturer:   Rab
By Cam McKenzie Ring ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 12, 2018
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77
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 11
  • Warmth - 25% 6
  • Comfort - 20% 8
  • Breathability - 15% 9
  • Layering Ability - 15% 10
  • Ease of Movement - 10% 10
  • Weather Resistance - 10% 3
  • Style - 5% 8

Our Verdict

The Rab Nucleus Hoody was redesigned for the fall of 2018, and we like the results! The new material is stretchy and comfortable, with a high range of motion in the arms and shoulders. The full-length zipper lets you take it on and off easily, and the zippered hand pockets help you secure your valuables. This hoody was a close second to the Patagonia R1 Hoody, but slightly different in a few key ways. The R1 is a bit warmer, but if you prefer a full-length zipper and a hood, you can't get that from the R1. If you are looking for something that works well under a backpack hip belt or a climbing harness, we prefer the R1, but the Nucleus is a slightly more versatile piece because of the full-length zipper. The Nucleus is also $20 cheaper, should that help you decide between the two. If you are looking to save even more, the Marmot Flashpoint rings in for only $99.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Rab Nucleus is made with a "Thermic" stretch fleece. Rab calls it a mid-weight fleece, but it feels more like a lightweight option to us and weighs about the same as the other lightweight fleeces that we tested, like the Patagonia R1 Hoody and the Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody.

Performance Comparison


Out for a pre-dawn mission in the Nucleus Hoody. This layer kept us warm when hiking fast on a cold start  and it's highly breathable. The pockets are a nice option for keeping your hands warm as well.
Out for a pre-dawn mission in the Nucleus Hoody. This layer kept us warm when hiking fast on a cold start, and it's highly breathable. The pockets are a nice option for keeping your hands warm as well.

Warmth


The Nucleus sacrifices warmth for breathability and easy layering. It's one of the thinnest pieces in our test group, and it's made for moving fast in the mountains and not hanging out at camp in cold weather. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as we often need something that will keep us warm on cool days without overheating us. If you need an outer layer that's warm and cozy, check out The North Face Osito 2 instead.

This fleece is on the thin side and not as warm as many of the other models that we tested. The hood helps retain warmth  and it fits nicely under a helmet  but it doesn't have the same full face gaiter that the Patagonia R1 and Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody have.
This fleece is on the thin side and not as warm as many of the other models that we tested. The hood helps retain warmth, and it fits nicely under a helmet, but it doesn't have the same full face gaiter that the Patagonia R1 and Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody have.

Comfort


This is a fairly comfortable layer for several reasons. The interior gridded fleece is soft, and it feels nice against your bare skin — not scratchy at all! The hood is form fitting but not too tight, and the cut is tapered but not too constricting. It's not quite as plush at the Patagonia R2 or other hi-loft models, but we didn't mind wearing it all day long.

Hand pockets are a nice touch and add to the overall coziness and comfort of a fleece jacket.
Hand pockets are a nice touch and add to the overall coziness and comfort of a fleece jacket.

Breathability


This jacket is highly breathable thanks to the gridded fleece. It feels on par with the Patagonia R1 Hoody and only slightly less breathable than the ultra-thin Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody.

This model uses the same grid technique as the Polartec Power Grid fleeces. The channels offer a thin layer for your moisture to escape.
This model uses the same grid technique as the Polartec Power Grid fleeces. The channels offer a thin layer for your moisture to escape.

Layering Ability and Ease of Movement


The Nucleus is one of the top scorers for both of these categories. It works over a thin underlayer, like a sweat-wicking t-shirt or tank top, and then it also layers well under a thicker soft-shell jacket or a windbreaker jacket. The material is stretchy, and there is ample room in the shoulders for climbing or other active pursuits. The full-length zipper is not our favorite option for wearing under a pack or harness, as it can cause pressure points, but the length is long enough so that it doesn't ride up.

We could layer just about every which way with this model. Over a base layer  under a heavier jacket  with a harness  with a backpack  etc  etc. Our only quibble is that a full-length zipper isn't always the most comfortable option when paired with a waist belt.
We could layer just about every which way with this model. Over a base layer, under a heavier jacket, with a harness, with a backpack, etc, etc. Our only quibble is that a full-length zipper isn't always the most comfortable option when paired with a waist belt.

Weather Resistance


Fleece jackets are not known for their weather resistance, and this one scored about how you might expect a thin fleece would — not very well! Water absorbs straight into the material, and wind rips right through it. If you want something with a bit more weather resistance, check out a thicker fleece, like The North Face Denali 2. If you're looking for a performance layer that also offers some weather resistance, check out the Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody.

The exterior of this fleece offers no protection from the elements. Water soaks right in and it doesn't block the wind at all.
The exterior of this fleece offers no protection from the elements. Water soaks right in and it doesn't block the wind at all.

Style


This layer doesn't stand out one way or the other when it comes to style. It's rather non-descript, but that can be a good thing sometimes. It has a flatter "face" than the Patagonia R1 Hoody, so it looks slightly less technical than that model. If you're looking for something that has a more casual appeal, check out the Arc'teryx Covert Cardigan or the Patagonia Re-Tool Snap-T Pullover.

This jacket is fairly plain  which we don't mind. It doesn't look too technical or "muppet-like " and it comes in some nice color choices.
This jacket is fairly plain, which we don't mind. It doesn't look too technical or "muppet-like," and it comes in some nice color choices.

Best Applications


This is a great option for any active pursuits in cold weather.

Value


This jacket retails for $140, which is $20 less than the Patagonia R1 Hoody, making it an attractive pick for the price. If you're looking to save even more, the Marmot Flashpoint is a basic layer that only costs $99.

Conclusion


We don't know how long Rab has been making the Nucleus Hoody for, and if it or the Patagonia R1 came "first." They are both very similar though and excellent fleece layers that any active woman would be happy to have in her closet. Which one is for you might be a matter of small details and personal preference. If you want a ¾ zip and a hood, then check out the R1, but if you want a full-zip and a hood, then the Nucleus is for you.


Cam McKenzie Ring