If you are in the market for a technical parka for mountaineering, winter camping, and alpine conditions, we recommend the Rab Neutrino Endurance, which wins our Top Pick Award for Best Technical Parka. Compared to other technical parka in this category, the synthetic Patagonia Hyper Puff, the Neutrino Endurance provides the most protection from the elements, which is why it takes Top Pick. It is made from a durable material called Pertex Endurance that features an air-permeable PU coating, making the jacket windproof and highly water resistant. With features like an adjustable helmet compatible hood, adjustable cuffs, waterproof zippers, an insulated zipper flap, hydrophobic down, and a longer cut in back, the Neutrino Endurance has all the features necessary for use in the mountains and the utmost warmth. Even though it is not as fashionable as some of the other parkas in this review, we think it has a nice look and is far more versatile for outdoor activities than a thigh-length, casual parka. It can be used in many more situations, from everyday activities like snow shoveling and heading to work in the morning to keeping you warm at a hanging ice belay or at a backcountry ski transition. If you would rather have a warm but casual jacket, check out the Canada Goose Kensington Parka.
Rab Neutrino Endurance Jacket - Women's Review
Cons: Stitch-through construction rather than box-baffles
Our Analysis and Test Results
A technical parka rather than a stylish, everyday winter jacket, the Rab Neutrino Endurance is our favorite insulation layer for winter sports such as camping, ice climbing, or overnight ski-tours. It has a tough, weather resistant exterior and is filled with hydrophobic down for extra protection from wet weather.
With 7 ounces (200 grams) of 800 fill treated European goose down, the Neutrino Endurance is thicker and warmer than the other technical parka in this review, the synthetic Patagonia Hyper Puff. Many features on this jacket are designed to keep more warmth inside: the longer cut in the back helps to insulate more of your body, the adjustable cuffs seal tight around the wrists to keep cold out, and the insulated hood adjusts to fit snugly with or without a helmet. A detail that we love that contributes to the warmth is the insulated zipper flap on the inside, which prevents wind and cold air from seeping in through the zipper.
The Pertex Endurance fabric that makes up the exterior of the Neutrino has a thin polyurethane coating that is both highly breathable and significantly more wind and water resistant than many other fabrics used in lighter down jackets. The material is not rated as a waterproof, but is highly water resistant. We have worn this jacket through snowstorms and miserable weather, and have found it to hold up to wetness well, far better than is normally expected from a down jacket. The same polyurethane coating that makes the fabric water resistant also makes the jacket wind resistant.
The newest version of this jacket features hydrophobic down. This is down that has been treated with a coating to help it withstand wetness better. When non-treated down gets wet, the fibers clump together and lose loft. Since down insulates by trapping heat in the small air spaces trapped between fibers, when the fibers are clumped together, the down stops being warm and insulating. With treated down, it takes longer for the feathers to lose loft (though with a good soaking, they eventually will.)
The combination of highly weather resistant material and hydrophobic down allows this jacket to keep performing even when conditions are damp, and allows it to be used in a wider range of situations. Though it will eventually soak through in a drenching, it takes longer for this to happen than with most other lightweight down jackets.
One of the best parts about the design and cut of the jacket is that it is significantly longer in back than the front. This helps to keep wind and snow out of the back of your pants, and keeps you warmer by providing insulation over a greater area. It just feels more insulating and more protective.
The Neutrino Endurance uses the sewn-through method of construction rather than box baffles. This cuts back on the weight and expense of the jacket, allowing it to cost less than box baffle parkas, even though it is still a very warm layer.
This technical parka doesn't look as flattering as a casual winter jacket, but it is far warmer and more protective than any of the casual parkas we tested.
With fleece-lined hand pockets and a brushed fleece chin-guard, this parka provides extra comforts as well as tough technical capabilities. Its lofty construction packed with down makes this a cozy and incredibly warm layer. The rear end is a frequent source of cold for many women, and the longer cut in back provides extra warmth and makes the jacket cozier and much warmer overall.
An extra detail that adds convenience is the two-way zipper. If you wear this parka while belaying, you can unzip the bottom a ways to make room for your belay device and belay loop, without scrunching up the rest of the jacket and leaving your backside vulnerable to wind.
The Neutrino has just the right features for a technical belay parka. The adjustable hood fits well over a helmet and has a wire peak brim for keeping sun and snow out of the face. The front zipper and hand pocket zippers are taped and waterproof, helping to keep moisture out in typical weak spots. It has adjustable cuffs that cinch tightly around bare wrists, over glove cuffs, or can fit underneath gloves with big gauntlets.
At 1.28 lbs, the size small Neutrino is just barely heavier than the small Patagonia Hyper Puff, which weighs 1.21 lbs. This extra ounce is inconsequential when you consider how warm, protective, and compressible this parka is. It comes with a stuff sack to help pack it along on trips, and for a very thick jacket, the 800 fill down compresses into a decently small package.
The Pertex Endurance material that comprises this jacket is durable and fairly abrasion resistant as well as weather resistant. We have found that it holds up very well to hard, frequent use, withstanding coiling icy ropes, scraping against rock, and coming in contact with ice tools and crampon points. This parka is more durable than many lightweight down jackets.
Due to its excellent loft and warmth, combination of thoughtful features, as well as its durability and weather resistance, the Neutrino Endurance is best for use in alpine conditions and mountaineering, though it makes a great all-around winter jacket as well. It can be easily packed along for ice cragging, on an overnight ski tour, or brought on a multi-day mountaineering trip.
Though $360 is a high price tag, this jacket is an excellent deal for what you get. This cleverly featured alpine parka is well worth investing in. This is more expensive than previous versions of this jacket, but now it has the addition of hydrophobic down. If you are in the market for a technical parka but want to spend less, the Patagonia Hyper Puff rings in just under the Neutrino Endurance.
This is our favorite technical parka for athletic activities in cold conditions. If you are going to be sweating, and then need to bundle up when the motion stops, this is the perfect outer layer. It offers incredible warmth, an above average amount of protection against wetness for an insulation layer, and other functional features such as a helmet compatible hood tailor this jacket for technical activities.
Rab Neutrino Endurance
- Cost $360
- Top Pick Award Winner!
- Mens version of this jacket
Rab Xenon X and Rab Xenon X - Women's
- Cost - $225
- Editors' Choice Award Winner!
- Lightweight, synthetic insulated
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: November 21, 2014
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