We've already previewed Rab's new spring 2013 kit, but while we were basking in the tropical delights of Alfreton, we also got a chance to have a scoop look at the new autumn 2013 stuff which is due out in September and includes Rab's take on water-resistant down, the brand's lightest ever down jacket and Polartec's new Alpha insulation.
New Infinity Endurance Jacket
The existing Infinity Endurance gets a complete overhaul for next autumn, it's a toughened-up version of the original lightweight Infinity down jacket which still uses the ultralight Pertex Quantum GL fabric, but with an Endurance water-resistant coating.
It also has a full helmet-compatible hood, for serious sub-zero climbing missions, and the shoulders, hood, outer arms and cuffs use full-weight Pertex Endurance fabric for durability where it's needed. It uses 210g of 850+ fill power high quality goose down which is also water resistant, in stitch through baffles.
Overall weight is a claimed 570g in the large size, which is around 60g more than the standard Infinity Jacket, which remains in the range and is a lighter alternative to the Neurino Endurance.
New Continuum Jacket
Rab reckons the slim-fitting, micro-baffled Continuum is its lightest ever down jacket at 300g for a size large. It uses the same 850+ fill power down as the Infinity but housed in stitched-through mini-baffles using the ultra-lightweight, semi-translucent Pertex Qunatum GL fabric.
It packs down into one of its zipped hand-warmer pockets, has no hood and features an adjustable hem along with elasticated cuffs. With just 110g of fill it's not going to be the warmest jacket out there, but it's all about lightness and packability. Lighter than the existing Microlight Jacket but warmer and with more loft thanks to better down and lighter fabrics.
Finally, all Rab's down clothing uses hydrophobic, water-resistant down which has developed in an exclusive partnership with Nkwax and should mean added resilience in wet conditions and better retention of loft after drying out if the fill does get wet. Rab stresses that the treatment doesn't affect loft or weight.
Rab's sleeping bags, by the way, won't be using the hydrophobic down until spring 2014 when they'll also be redesigned.
New Plasma Hoodie - Men's and Women's
On the synthtic insulation front, there's a new hooded jacket called the Plasma Hoodie which is a full-on update of the Photon all-rounder. It uses a Pertex Classic Eco outer with Rab's own-brand Eco 3D synthetic fill, which is also used in their Eco sleeping bags and is 100% recycled.
The matt finish fabric looks cool and contemporary - really, it does - and it's a simple design with a permanent hood and hand-warmer pockets that you could use on the hill or off it. Weight is a claimed 635g for blokes, 560g for the women's version and the price on the hang-tag is £110. There's also a hoodless, standard jacket version, which will sell for £90.
Xenon X Hoodie
We're massive fans of the original Rab Xenon, an ultra-lightweight, hooded, PrimaLoft-filled, packable jacket and it gets a revamp for next winter with a new, slightly tougher 20D outer fabric instead of the original 10D Quantum GL. It adds a little more durability - the GL can tear quite easily - and also looks a little less shiny and special...
The weight penalty is around 30-40g over the original, at a claimed 385g (m) and 330g (w) but the price drops at the same time from the orginal's £160 or so down to a more affordable, though still not cheap, £130. The fill is still the excellent 60g PrimaLoft One.
It's joined by a completely new Xenon X Pull-On - same basics but with a half-zip and no hood and a claimed weight of 365g - only available in a men's version though.
New Strata Jacket, Hoodie And Vest
We know a bit about the Strata as we've had a new Strata Hoodie on test now for a couple of months. It uses Polartec's latest Alpha insulation, which is being touted as a more breathable alternative to traditional synthetic puffy insulation fills.
We really like it. It's breathable enough to use on the move in situations where you're normally sweat out like a dog on a hot day and well as being both warm and windproof. The Strata Hoodie we're using has a body-mapped lining, a simple hood which sits either over or under a helmet and packs into its own chest pocket - there are hand-warmer pockets too.
Probably not as outright warm as a similar weight PrimaLoft jacket for example, but a lot more breathable. Its also cut neat and slim and layers well under a shell if you need to. The Hoodie version for men and women - 465g and 370g respecitively - will sell for around £150.
There will also be a vest/gilet version and a simple hoodless jacket, both in men's and women's versions - weights 285 and 430g respectively, price tags £100 and £140. We reckon the Strata Vest will be one of those stealth hits that just gets used all the time.
Nexus Waterproof Jacket
Away from insulation, the Stretch Neo and Myriad jackets are joing by a third shell made from Polartec NeoShell waterproof fabric called the Nexus jacket and in men's and women's versions again. It's a 590/510g jacket with a helmet hood made from non-stretch NeoShell with reinforced shoulders and arms for toughness.
The cut is based on the classic Latok shell, but the super-breathable fabric means there are no pit-zips fitted, so you just get two A-line, harness clearing pockets and a zipped Napoleon chest pocket. Our notes say it has a Vislon zip, but Rab's workbook says otherwise and that it's an Aquaguard, so we'll assume it's the latter unless corrected.
Price is £260 for both men's and women's versions. Nice to see another NeoShell option out there this autumn-winter, it's a cracking fabric.
Revolver Jacket / Calibre Pants
A bit of softshell for you - both the new Revolver Jacket and Calibre Pants use Polartec PowerShield - with a fleece backer for the jacket and a PowerDry mesh for the trousers. It's a fabric that gives a great balance between protection and breathability, that's spot on for snowy winter conditions.
Features incude a full helmet hood with wired peak and Napoleon pockets for the jacket and zones stretch Matrix DWS gusset and knees plus ankle zip with gussett and silicone grippers for the pants. Look spot on for winter mountaineering and alpine stuff where snow and wind are the main issues. Prices are £170 and £120.
New Women's Vapour-rise Guide Jacket
Also new on the warm winter front is a women's-specific version of the seriously warm VR Guide Jacket. It uses breathable Pertex Equilibrium shell fabric with a Polartec hi-loft fleece liner for winter warmth and wicking capabilities. You get pit-zips too, a helmet hood with wired brim amd plenty of pockets.
Our experience of the men's version is that it's a very warm and weather-resistant alternative to pile-Pertex stuff from the likes of Buffalo and Montane, though like those garments, it's seriously warm stuff even if it does handle moisture well. Price is £160 and there are also matching Women's VR Guide Pants but with a micro-fleece rather than high-loft liner plus kick patches, thjigh vents and more.
That means that everything in the VR range is now available in both men's and women's versions.
There's also a women\s version of the PrimaLoft lined Generator Alpine for hardcore winter belay use again with women's fit and, inevitably, nicer colours than the men's versions. Check that purple...
Womens's Boulder Vest
This one's just for women. It's a mid-weight, Polartec fleece hooded vest no less with a Lycra-bound under-helmet hood, full YKK front zip and handwarmer pockets with a price tag of £75.
Also on the insulation front, Rab's PowerStretch Hoodie is back in both men's and women's versions and a choice of three colours - brilliant lightweight insulation mid-layer that's been away for a couple of years and has thumb-loops too. Ours is still going strong. Price for both will be £90.
Last but not least and still on the hoodie trail, there's a new hooded MeCo 165 baselayer top made with Rab's excellent mix of 65% merino wool and Cocona - merino comfort plus much better wicking and drying in our experience. It's a midweight baselayer with a deep, venting YKK chest zip for the men's version and an open, wrapped collar neck for the women's one.
A slim cut and thumb-loops along with a close-fitting hood make up the spec. It'll retail for £80.
All the above in the shops around September time. For the current Rab range see www.rab.uk.com.