Review: Rab Microlight Alpine Down Jacket

Water-Resistant Down Jacket
Rab Microlight Alpine Down Jacket
$280, 15 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s XXS-XXL, women’s XS-XXL

Although it wasn’t the weather we’d hoped for in the Wind River Range, the rain and chilly wind whipping through our campsites seemed like the perfect testing conditions for Rab’s Microlight Alpine Down Jacket. And it passed the test, thanks to features designed to fend off wet and raw conditions—giving this puffy jacket strong appeal to backpackers, climbers, and others with a knack for getting themselves into that kind of weather in any season.

I found the Microlight Alpine Jacket abundantly warm enough on cool, wet, and windy evenings and mornings around 40° F in camps on an August backpacking trip in Wyoming’s Wind River Range, and in the same temps on a dry, four-day, late-September backpacking trip in Yosemite.

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Rab Microlight Alpine Down Jacket.
Rab Microlight Alpine Down Jacket.

This fat puffy is stuffed with five ounces of GRS-certified, recycled, 700-fill goose down that’s hydrophobic—meaning it retains its loft and ability to trap heat even when damp and dries faster than standard down. The micro and nano stitch-through baffle construction, which stitches the outer, shell fabric to the inner, liner fabric—commonly used to reduce a jacket’s weight and often the cost—does create visible boxes of down with potential cold spots at seams separating them. But I noticed no compromise in warmth even on damp, windy evenings and mornings in camp.

The recycled, 30-denier Pertex Quantum ripstop nylon shell doesn’t leak feathers and provides a medium level of durability that’s better than many lighter puffy jackets. Plus, it has an excellent DWR (durable, water-repellent treatment) that sheds light precipitation and, paired with the hydrophobic down, makes this a better (read: warmer) choice for wet weather than many down jackets—as it demonstrated in the Wind River Range.

In fact, the Microlight Alpine Jacket has a fully recycled shell, insulation, and lining.

The adjustable hood has a stiffened brim and, with a single drawcord in the back, it wraps snugly around your head and delivers a substantial boost in warmth. The front zipper extends up over your chin, sealing in warmth effectively, as do the elasticized cuffs and adjustable hem.

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Two zippered pockets positioned above a backpack or climbing harness belt provide warmth for hands, while a zippered chest pocket has space for small items plus the included stuff sack.

At 15 ounces, for someone (like me) who doesn’t get cold too easily, this puffy jacket delivers enough warmth (over one or two base layers) for temps below freezing; people who do get chilled easily may find it warm enough for the 30s Fahrenheit. The slim fit allows wearing a couple of light layers underneath and the Microlight comes in a broader range of sizes for men and women than a lot of outerwear. It’s moderately packable and warm for its weight but not as much as puffy jackets with higher down-fill ratings.

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The Verdict

With water-resistant down and shell fabric—all fully recycled—and abundant warmth, the Rab Microlight Alpine Down Jacket offers better versatility than many competitors, for year-round use in temps down to below freezing.


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NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See The Big Outside’s Gear Reviews page for categorized menus of gear reviews and expert buying tips.

—Michael Lanza

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