Just In - 2014 Rab Latok Jacket: £325 / 680g (medium)
Rab's Latok has been around for ages now, but it's had a proper makeover for winter 2014. It's still designed to be a proper hardcore Scottish winter and other mountaineering jacket and it still uses tough three-ply eVent fabric for a mix of durability and breathability, but it's had a ton of detailed changes designed to make it at the same time tougher but also more comfortable and less stiff to wear.
- Three-layer eVent fabric with reinforced front, shoulders and hips.
- Handwarmer and Napoleon chest pockets with drains
- Under-arm water-resistant pit-zips
- Velcro fastened cuffs
- Adjustable helmet hood with wired peak and captive cords
- Two-way YKK Aquagurad Vislon main zip
- Internal mesh and zipped chest pocket
You know the Latok means business as soon as you lift it up - it's not a jacket you'd choose to pick a fight with on a Saturday night. The three-layer eVent fabric feels bruiser tough and at 680g, it's reassuringly solid. That all makes sense for a shell that's designed to be at its best in, say, wet, cold, brutal, Scottish winter conditions.
The fit reflects that as well. It's Rab's 'Regular' cut, which means athletic, but with plenty of room for the addition of a heavy fleece or insulation layer underneath and slim enough around waist and hips not to balloon out worn under a harness. There's a rear waist cord too, with the adjusters neatly stowed inside the chest pockets.
Sleeves are Rab's characteristic 'longer-than-average', climbing-friendly design too with the underside seam on the base of the cuff removed because, apparently, this is a high-wear area. It also, along with the shoulders, outer sleeves, and hips uses a tougher grade of fabric for extra resistance to abrasion.
The other area with the lighter-coloured reinforcement fabric is the front of the jacket after Rab's research showed that it was a prime wear site for mountaineers using bandoliers to rack winter gear on mountain routes. You'll also note that the Napoleon pockets feature a full protective flap, that's both to protect the zip from abrasion and also to allow climbers to leave the pockets part open for convenience.
Do that and the pockets will, inevitably, allow some water inside too, so all four of the outside pockets on the jacket also feature subtle drainage holes to prevent water from collecting inside and socking your Mars Bar. The pockets are BIG as well, no problem with maps, gloves or large coffee tables we reckon.
Last but not least, there are full, water-resistant pit-zips for venting when the going gets hot - you can roll up the cuffs as well. Oh, the cuff tabs have been seriously stitched in place as well, Rab identified tab failure as a common issue on high-mileage shells, so they've chosen to tackle it head on and simply make sure it doesn't happen.
The downside to all those pockets, zips, and the reinforced front is that the jacket, off the peg at least, does feels slightly stiffer than some, but in a reassuring rather than uncomfortable way - it's significantly less wooden than the old Latok too.
Finally, the hood is a multi-adjustable, wired peak creature that snugs up just fine with a bare head, but also fits neatly over a climbing helmet. It doesn't offer quite as much lower facial protection as the top-end Berghaus or Mountain Equipment hoods, but in practice you could always add a Buff or neoprene face mask if you feel the need.
If you're looking for a serious, UK-friendly waterproof mountain jacket these days, you're spoiled for choice - watch out for our full waterproof jacket multi-test coming soon - but the Rab Latok is right up there with the best.
It feels super solid, has been carefully designed with an eye on proper long-term durability and toughness and the fit is a nice balance between an athletic, technical cut and one that allows you to layer insulation underneath in colder conditions.
Yes, at £325 it's expensive, but if you're the sort of person who gets out regularly in all weathers, it has the feel of being a bombproof investment that should last you for a good few winter seasons rather than being a one-winter wonder. It's man enough we reckon, are you?
Full 2014 Rab range at www.rab.uk.com