Rab Electron Down Jacket | Review
A cracking medium weight, medium warmth down jacket with the added reassurance of Nikwax hydrophobic down and water-resistant fabric
'A nicely-specced, medium weight, medium-warmth down all-rounder, the Electron is a cracking all-conditions, cold weather companion whether you're in Scotland, the Alps or a Himalayan tea house'
Outdoors Magic: Great warmth to weight, water-resistant fabric and hydrophobic down ups versatility, excellent hood, thorough detailing, dry/cold conditions belay potential, very orange.
Outdoors Tragic: Sized quite large for non-belay jacket use.
Outdoors Grabbit? The combination of high-lofting, PFC-free hydrophobic 800 fill power goose down and water-resistant Pertex Endurance fabric makes for a very damp-resistant down jacket. Ideal for say, Scotland on a 'good' day, but also fine for the Alps and beyond. The hood's excellent, design is thorough and it's decently warm for the weight too with plenty of space for additional inner layers. Thumbs up for the free-flowing Vislon zips too. An excellent all-round down jacket that's appreciably warmer than alternatives that are 150g or so lighter making it arguably worth the extra weight.
Electron Jacket Ratings
Outright Warmth [rating score="4"]
Packability [rating score="3.5"]
Damp-proofing [rating score="3.5"]
Overall: [rating score="4"]
Medium weight down-filled jacket / 800FP European Goose Down / Rab® fluorocarbon free hydrophobic down developed with Nikwax / Pertex Endurance shell fabric / stitch-through midi baffles on body, mini-baffles sides and sleeves / helmet-compatible, volume-adjustable hood with wired peak / YKK Vislon main and pocket zips / zipped internal pocket / adjustable hem
Full Review Below
Rab Electron Jacket - The Fill
The Electron uses high lofting, 800 fill power, European Goose Down, which is impressive in itself, but like the Alpkit Filoment and the Berghaus Ramche 2.0 it's Nikwax Hydrophobic down, a PFC-free treatment that's claimed to resist water for a mammoth 16 hours.
When we properly dunked and soaked the Alpkit jacket, our conclusion was that the down retained less of its loft when wet than synthetics, but still more than conventional down, but where it really scored was that it dried out faster then even synthetics - we found that hard to believe as well - and still retained virtually all its original loft once it had air dried.
Less Clumping After Drying
In contrast, non-treated down tends to clump together and without special drying tends to lose a considerable proportion of its loft and warmth.
It doesn't make the jacket waterproof and in consistently damp conditions, synthetics are arguably still better for active use. But it does mean that if the jacket gets wet, it's not game over in insulation terms. It also means that with continuous expedition use, cumulative dampness from moisture vapour is less of an issue.
Rab Electron Jacket - Performance
The 490g Electron's about as warm as stitch through down jackets get and noticeably more effective than other lighter rivals at around the 300-400g mark and pack size is good given its weight. A lightweight stuff-sac is supplied.
The spec is super thorough. It gets that Nikwax hydrophobic 800 fill power down, highly water-resistant Pertex Endurance outer fabric, Vislon zips all round and a technical helmet hood complete with mouldable, elastomer peak.
The whole thing has a reassuringly solid, reliable sort of feel. Pull it on and you notice two things: first, there's that near instant, lofty heat you associate with classic down. Second, the fit is quite generous. It's noticeably less fitted than, say, the comparable Mountain Equipment Vega which has a very similar spec.
On the one hand, that means more space for under-layers and potential for belay jacket use. On the other, you lose a little efficiency if you don't fill out that space.
Generally the spec is good. Moulded tooth YKK Vislon zips all round operate with snag-free slickness. Neat semi-elasticated cuffs sit over shower gloves, though not gauntlet-style ones and you get two hand-warmer and a single inside chest pocket. Hem and cuffs are both adjustable.
Hoodness Gracious Me
The hood is mostly good. It takes a climbing helmet just fine with a rear-mounted Velcro strap preventing the mouldable peak from flopping forward over your eyes, but it's worth noting that the lack of a top-cord adjuster means that a bare head moves inside the hood limiting vision if you need to execute Green Cross Code style manoeuvres.
So far this winter, it's not really been cold enough to justify the Eectron's extra warmth, but we've yet to hear anyone complaining about it being too hot. We'd always rather err towards over-speccing than shivering in the corner of some godforsaken, frozen bothy wishing we'd carried an extra 200g of insulation.
Equally, although the jacket is decently water resistant, it's warm enough that you're more likely to wear it in wet snow conditions rather than rain. Stuff it copes with admirably. But it's nice to have the reassurance that if your jacket does somehow get soaked, it'll bounce right back demanding more abuse.
Rab Electron Jacket - Verdict
The Electron stalks an interesting insulation netherworld, nestling between the super-warm, box-walled kit and lighter, more packable down jackets, with a big helping of water resistance thrown in. That makes it a no-nonsense all-rounder that cope with everything from a frozen Scottish bothy, via alpine belay duties through to greater ranges trekking.
It's warm enough to make the extra weight over lighter down jackets feel worthwhile. And the general spec is excellent and thorough. Our only minor quibbles are over the quite generous cut, which won't suite everyone, but arguably makes it more versatile overall. And the way your head moves inside the hood when you're not wearing a helmet.
A really good no-nonsense, medium-weight, medium-warmth down jacket thats should cope wth pretty much anything you can throw at it.
Thanks to the guys at Outside in Hathersage for allowing us to photograph on location in their iconic cafe. Totally recommended for coffee, cake and all sorts.