New in is Rab's out for autumn 2015, Nebula Jacket. It looks like down, right? It feels pretty down-like too, but it's actually filled with a new synthetic insulation from 3M called Cirrus, which aims to mimic the characteristics of down, but with the sort of water-resistance and all-round resilience you'd expect from a synthetic fill.
Because it's a 'loose fill' synthetic, it can be housed in baffled tubes, just like down - hence the appearance - and Rab says it 'offers similar performance to 600 fill power duck down' and, in particular, 'degrades very little after multiple washes'.
- £160 / 560g (men's medium)
- Pertex Endurance coated outer fabric
- Stitch-through baffle construction
- YKK Vislon zip
- Helmet Hood with flexible polymer peak
- YKK zipped hand-warmer pockets
- Stuffs into lefthand pocket for stowage
- Single zipped internal pocket
- Lycra-bound cuffs
Does it feel like down? Well, it's a sort of believable halfway house between medium loft down and a synthetic rather than the floaty, lighter than light feel from real top-notch high end down, but it's believable that it's somewhere close to 600 fill power duck down in insulation terms.
At 560g it's a middleweight in the insulation wars, but that's partly thanks to the use of Pertex Endurance fabric, which is coated to make it highly water resistant and in combination with the Cirrus fill, should make it an ideal choice for situations where things are likely to be both damp and cold. Scotland anyone?
The hood is helmet compatible and happily swallows a Black Diamond Vector lid, plus has a mouldable flexible polymer (plastic) peak rather than wire. It's not really a belay jacket though, at least our medium is quite a close fit over a mid-layer fleece, so you might want to go up a size if that's your intention.
What it should be great for is general cold-conditions, knock-about use without any of the trepidation attached to using even water-resistant down in those situations.
People like the way down looks and they like its warmth to weight ratio, the Nebula does all that decently enough, but with the promise of butch, synthetic-type performance when the going gets wet and gnarly.
So, does that mean it's all about cosmetics? Maybe there's can element of that: believe it of not, Rab's down jackets massively outsell the brand's synthetic range even though on paper, artificial fills are better for real world, damp UK use, but as with the Haglöfs Essen Mimic jacket we've been using this year, it does also seem to be impressively warm.
On top of that, first impressions are that it packs reasonably small for its warmth once you fold stuff it away into the lefthand hand-warmer pocket. Not tiny, but respectably stashable We're looking forward to seeing how it works this winter. Watch this space.
Full Rab Cirrus range info at rab.equipment.