New Gear From Rab This Autumn 2014
We've been checking out the new autumn kit from Derbyshire-based mountain-brand Rab, which is appearing in the shops right now and includes some great new lightweight down, different grades of the excellent MeCo base-layer fabric and new mountain jackets using both Polartec NeoShell and eVent that look like being the brand's best ever waterproofs.
MeCo Range Expands
We're big fans of Rab's MeCo baselayer which uses a mix of merino wool and Cocona to produce a fabric that mixes merino's comfortable feel and anti-pong properties with the faster wicking and drying qualities of coconut-based Cocona. It's a brilliant balance of the two and one of our favourite baselayers as a result.
And for this autumn there's even more of the stuff, armfuls of if in fact as you can see from the images over on the right. The fabric comes in 190, 165, 140 and 120 weights - the higher the number, the thicker the material - with the 190 and 140 versions being completely new this season.
One top we like the look of was the MeCo 165 Hoodie in both men's and women's versions and featuring both a hood and thumb-loops. The men's has a deep zip for additional venting, while the women's version has what Rab calls an 'open, wrapped collar neck' without a zip. Sells for £80 and suits folk who like hoods on their baselayers.
The 190 MeCo is a new, heavier grade of the fabric that works either as a full-on winter or expedition baselayer or, if you prefer, as a very light mid-layer on days when you need some extra warmth, but not too much of it. It comes as a long-sleeved top with a half-zip and thumb-loops for both men and women, price is £90.
Finally, there's the new 140 version that's cut a little looser than the lighter and tighter 120 and available as long or short sleeve, with an eye on all-round outdoor use. The short-sleeved tees are £50 while the long-sleeved versions cost a fiver more at £55.
New Tougher Infinity Down Jacket
Rab's Infinity down jacket was a great mix of warm and light, but it's effectively been replaced by two new jackets: one of Rab's lightest ever fully featured down jacket, while the other is the new Infinity Endurance Jacket, which is warmer, tougher and more water resistant than the original.
The big changes are that the new jacket uses a water-resistant endurance coating on its outer shell fabric for better protection from drips and disasters. There's slightly more of the Nikwax-treated water-resistant 850 fill-power down - 210g in a size L - and finally there's a new, fully-adjustable helmet hood designed for climbing use.
The jacket still weighs just 585g but it's slightly warmer, slightly tougher where water's concerned and helmet and alpine friendly too. The price is £285 and it's available in both men's and women's versions, the women's ones with neat colour contrast linings in shades of pink and purple.
New Continuum Hoodie
Billed as Rab's 'lightest ever fully featured down jacket', the new Continuum Hoodie is a micro-baffled, stitch-through lightweight cheetah of a jacket using feathery Pertex Quantum GL fabric along with 850 fill power down. The baffles are quilted in a retro sort of way because without the additional cross stitching, the down moves around too easily creating cold spots, but it also looks cool.
Fit is quite close and technical for added efficiency and reduced weight and there's a helmet-friendly hood for climbing use. There are men's hooded and non-hooded versions, with just the hooded option for the girls. Weight of the large men's hoodie is 385g and 138g of that is down.
One really interesting point is that the peak on the hood is made from what Rab calls 'Bendy Plastic' rather than being wired. It is what it sounds like, plastic with no memory, which you can bend and shape to suit. You can expect to see it used on more Rab hoods next year, but for now it's just the Continuum. Interesting...
Price is £250 for the hooded version.
Rab Andes Reboot
Designed for trekking peaks around 6000m or so in height, the new Andes - its an old name, but this one is new - is essentially a non-waterproof version of the surprisingly popular Batura complete with full box-wall construction, helmet hood, big pockets with down fill inside and out and bottle pockets inside.
It weighs 1010g, which is more than a lot of sleeping bags we've used, has 435g of 800 fill power down and a 20D Endurance outer with a lighter lining fabric. There's a Vislon zip too, good for avoiding snagging, complete with an insulated storm flap come baffle. Price of the Andes is £400 - too warm for most UK use we'd say, but ideal if you're off somewhere big.
New Shell Layers - NeoShell And eVent
Finally Rab has brand new shells in both eVent and NeoShell waterproof fabrics in the from of the new Neo Guide and a completely redesigned Latok Jacket. What's the difference? Rab's Dan Thompson reckons the Latok is the better choice for pure wet conditions - Scotland anyone? - while the Neo Guide would be his choice for working hard in snowy terrain due to its slight edge in breathability.
Neo Guide Jacket
It's goodbye to the original Stretch Neo - one of the first NeoShell jackets out there - and hello to the new Neo Guide this winter. The new jacket still uses Polartec's super breathable NeoShell fabric in a stretch version, but it's a little heavier and tougher than the original making for an overall weight of 620g.
Otherwise the jacket has all the features you'd expect including a plastic-toothed YKK Vislon two-way zip, helmet hood and plenty of harness-friendly pockets. It also, which you might not have expected, features pit-zips because ski mountaineers work hard enough to kick out a shed-load of excess heat in the process.
It sells for £300 and won a Polartec award for innovative design. And if you want a lighter NeoShell option from Rab, the Myriad is still in the range and a very decent shell.
There's also a matching Neo Guide Pant at £240 with 3/4 zips featuring 3 zip-heads so you can adjust venting to suit your preferences more easily. It also gets an adaptive cuff with Velcro gusset to fit ski or mountaineering boots and comes with braces as standard.
Latok Jacket Reboot
The Latok's been around for ages as Rab's top technical eVent mountain shell and for this winter it's had a complete redesign to bring it bang up to date. As soon as you pick it up, you know this things's serious. The fabric is a new heavy duty version of eVent and it feels as tough as old boots. It's also one of the reasons the jacket weighs in at 715g, a fair whack for a modern shell.
The idea though is that it should stand up to some serious abuse and it has all the other features you'd expect including plenty of pockets - the chest ones are hidden for neatness and feature rain drains in case of minor leaks - hidden waist cord adjustment in pockets, pit-zips and a full helmet-hood.
The sleeves have an unusual curved, 3D cut for a neater fit and even the cuff tabs have been thought about using a new 'soft touch' Velcro to minimise any abrasion from the Velcro.
It's arguably the toughest eVent jacket in the world and should be ideal for hardcore mountaineering types and outdoor professionals who put their kit through hell as a matter of course. The price-tag reads £325, slightly more than the Neo Guide.
All the products featured are available now and you can find further information at www.rab.uk.com.