Warmer than your average micro baffle and more versatile than those burly box walls...
In a slightly more literal world, the Rab Neutrino Pro would be called something like the ‘Rab Big (but not too big) Warm Coat’ because hey, ultimately that’s what it is. A whopping great dose of portable warmth that you can take out wherever you are and in anything short of seriously cold conditions, and rely on to keep you comfortably toasty.
All that and at 570g for a medium, not too ridiculously heavy to cart around with you either.
It would be right at home watching the sun rising over Everest from Kalar Patar. Or sat on a summit in the Alps. Or in a Scottish bothy in deep mid-winter. Or, and don’t ask how I know this, sat in sub-zero conditions outside Munich airport eating sausage and chips to pass the time at an outside bar, while everyone around you shivers.
How warm is it? I’d say ‘proper warm’. In a different league to any micro-baffled jacket I’ve used.
It’s not quite as warm as a full-on box-wall expedition monster down jacket, but not that far off, and about as warm as most of us will ever actually need most of the time.
Except it’s not quite, because on top of all that, the Rab Neutrino Pro is also very nicely specced and designed, which means that in addition to being warm, it’s also a very nice thing. Which to be fair, you’d expect from a jacket priced a tenner shy of £300 from a brand like Rab.
The Rab Neutrino Pro: Why’s It Nice?
If you had to choose one word, it would probably be ‘refinement’. Of course this is the internet, so you can have as many words as you want, but refinement seems to sum it up nicely.
It starts with the high-lofting, ethically-sourced, 800 fill-power, Nikwax, water-resistant goose down fill. There’s around 230g and it fills the fat down compartments nicely in a dense, air-trapping sort of way that gives a near-instant feeling of warmth when you pull it on.
The Pertex Quantum Pro – it used to be called Endurance – has a water-resistant coating to shrug off the odd tent spill or glacial / icefall drip. The jacket’s really too warm for rainy days. It feels reassuringly substantial rather than feathery light and vulnerable.
The cut is neat and trim overall. For me it worked nicely over a mid-layer top, but would also cope with a trim-fitting shell in high mountain belay jacket mode. It’s long enough for some extended crotch coverage too, always welcome on a chilly day.
It’s also worth knowing that the fat, down-filled hood with wired peak, is built to accommodate a helmet, though it also works just fine without one. You get plenty of facial protection too, up to nose level, so you can properly snuggle down on some icefall in a belay stance and watch the clouds drift by – when you’re not being showered with falling ice chips that is.
The double-ended main zip helps here too allowing easy tying-in with minimal faff. No interior drop-pockets for your gloves, though there’s a handy inside check pocket to keep your phone / Mars Bar / random stuff warm and happy.
At the other end of the use spectrum, micro-fleece lined hand-pockets add a touch of luxury for that mid-winter chippy queue experience. There’s enough adjustment at the wrist cuffs to do an ‘over or under’ gig with gloves according to your preferences and the hem adjusters work just fine.
Compared To Other Down Jackets?
It’s all relative of course. I’ve used warmer box-wall expedition jackets that feel like wearing a sleeping bag, but the Neutrino Pro’s fat down compartments mean that you don’t seem to lose a huge amount of heat through the stitch-through baffles – the effect is much more marked with micro-baffled jackets.
The other obvious leak point – the main zip – gets its own lightly insulated baffle strip to minimise heat-loss from that area.
The flip-side of all this, is that the jacket has a sort of maximum temperature that I’d say subjectively is somewhere around zero degrees C or below. It doesn’t mean you can’t wear it when it’s milder, but it feels like uncomfortable overkill. Ditto if you’re moving about at more than a gentle sort of pace.
It’s also not the lightest down jacket out there. If you’re the sort of cutting-edge alpinist who wants the lightest possible warm Rab jacket they can find, you’ll want something like the feathery Zero G or Infinity G. Great jackets for sure, but uncompromising, slightly fragile in feel thanks to the ultra-light fabrics and, well, a tad focussed and showy for more general use.
Of course the Neutrino Pro has a heftier pack size, than say, the Infinity G, which uses roughly the same amount of slightly higher fill power down, but is arguably actually slightly warmer due to the reduced seam-lines – the G is quilted.
On top of that, the more substantial water-resistant fabric adds everyday reassurance and resistance to dripping snow-melt and the like. Oh and when you’re not up a mountain, you can still wear the jacket without looking like a slightly bashful refugee from K2 basecamp. If you are off to K2, check out the Positron Pro, Rab’s warmer again, box-walled, zoned jacket for really cold places / people who don’t run warm.
On the technical side of things, in a jacket this warm, water-resistant down is best viewed as a sort of insurance policy against something unexpected and wet happening rather than an invitation to skip through the rain at every opportunity.
If the worst does happen though, it’s reassuring to know that the stuff will dry noticeably faster than untreated down and retain more of its loft once it does dry out. The fabric will help there too.
If the skin on your hands gets dry and flaky, they can catch a little on the microfleece pocket lining in a ‘teeth on edge’ sort of way. Oh, and stray mayonnaise wipes off the sleeves quite easily. Don’t ask how I know etc.
Rab Neutrino Pro Verdict
If you want one down jacket that’ll do pretty much everything in sub-zero conditions, the Rab Nebula Pro ticks the boxes. First and foremost, it’s reassuringly, near-instantly warm, with a pleasingly dense feel to the 800 fill power down.
The water-resistant Pertex Quantum Pro fabric seems deceptively tough and shrugged off snagging encounters with the odd hostile, pointy shrub, and while it’s not super lightweight, our 570g medium test jacket, never felt like a burden on the sort of icy cold days when down makes sense.
It’s versatile too. Right at home on a belay at the bottom of an icefall, or during an evening in a Scottish winter bothy, or when out watching the sun set from Annapurna basecamp. Or on a more mundane, gentle plod to the pub in a deep mid-winter cold snap.
It’s not showy, like Rab’s more focussed ‘alpine’ insulation. Or modishly trendy like the skinny-baffled stuff, which it comprehensively crushes in the warmth stakes. But when it comes to just on getting on with it and keeping you warm and comfortable, it does the job with a refined, discrete, pedigree swagger.
Quibbles? The addition of an internal dump pocket for gloves or a bottle might occasionally be handy, as would a stuffable pocket arrangement instead of – or maybe in addition to – the stuff-sac supplied. But that aside, the Neutrino Pro really is hard to fault as a no-nonsense, big, warm coat.
Magic: Very warm, decent weight and pack size, build quality, robust feel, detailing and overall niceness.
Tragic: Lighter down jackets are available, but they’re generally more fragile. You get what you pay for etc. A bit warm for non-winter use.
Grabbit? The Neutrino Pro is simply a cracking, very warm, solidly-built down jacket that’ll work pretty much anywhere you need a very warm, solidly built down jacket. Top notch water-resistant down meets excellent build quality and detailing – stuff like fleece-lined hand-pockets and bomb-proof zips and adjusters. All of which helps to make it a really nice, though expensive jacket. It’s not super lightweight, but the pay-off is that it feels reassuringly robust compared to ultra-lightweight stuff woven from translucent fairy fabrics. A cracking do-it-all winter insulation all-rounder.
Pertex Quantum Pro face fabric / Pertex Quantum lining / 800FP ethically-sourced water-resistant goose down / stitch through construction / helmet-compatible down-filled hood with wired peak / twin hand-warmer pockets / internal zipped security pocket / 2-way YKK Vislon front-zip / concealed hood adjusters / adjustable cuffs and hem-cord / supplied with colour-matched stuff sac (18g)
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