Expert Review: Rab Men's Microlight Insulated Alpine Jacket
This review is my honest opinion of the jacket, which I purchased with my own money in December of 2021.
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the jacket, which I purchased with my own money in December of 2021.
The Rab Microlight Insulated Alpine Jacket is the perfect lightweight down layer for the skier, mountaineer, climber, or even for people who want to look good while walking around town. One can use it as a main insulating layer as a mid-layer under a shell while skiing, boarding, or mountaineering. Those wanting to look good while staying warm without sacrificing weight should look no further for their new favorite jacket.
About the piece
- Model: 2022 Rab Microlight Alpine
- Size: Medium
- Fit: True to size. In-between European slim-fitting jackets and American loosely-fitting jackets.
- Height: 5’10”
- Weight: 165 lbs
- Experience: 10 years of skiing
- When I bought this: December 2021
- Days tested: 50
- Where I’ve used it: Ski resorts (Grand Targhee, Kelly Canyon), Backcountry (Teton Pass), Mountaineering (Mt. Baker, Glacier Peak, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Saint Helens, and Mt. Adams), Fossil Mountain Cave, sport climbing, and daily use.
- Conditions I’ve used it in: Blizzard, overcast, sunny, cold, spring, powder, icy, and wet.
How it performs
What I was looking for
On my hunt for a jacket, I was looking for something light, warm, and slim. I wanted it to be very compressible so I could also use it as a pillow on the mountain. I tend to sweat and get hot easily, so a lightweight down jacket was key for me.
Why I chose this gear
I went with the Microlight Alpine because it fit the bill for everything I was looking for. It came with a stuff sack, has a slim fit, is extremely light, and just looks cool. It also has a helmet-compatible hood, which was a big MUST for me since I was buying this specifically for mountaineering. I tried on a few other jackets in my hunt for a jacket, but nothing fit as well for me as the Microlight did.
What I love about it
- Fit: Rab prides itself on a fit that’s right at the sweet spot. They go slimmer than a traditional American fit but leave room for a layer or two underneath. Under this jacket, I can wear a base layer and a hoodie without feeling too tight.
- Range of Motion: Along with the excellent fit, the range of motion is really good. I use it for sport climbing on those colder days (or the really windy ones). The balance between the slim fit (but not too slim) gives me a great range of motion without the downside of my clothing snagging on every rock and doorknob in existence.
- Design: The overall design of the jacket fits all the needs of a simple, light down jacket. It comes with three pockets, a helmet-compatible hood, and a zipper that literally never snags. It makes for a jacket that I don’t have to worry about while climbing, skiing, mountaineering, or just walking around town.
- Style: Obviously, one of the most important components of a down jacket is to keep one warm and comfortable, but another very important part of any piece of apparel is to make them look good. If someone looks at anything Rab makes, they’ll know that it puts a big emphasis on appearance. It’s an excellent jacket to walk around town in or turn some heads on the mountain. The fact that it's a low profile means one can wear it to school, work, or out walking the dog and not look like they’re trying to climb Everest like other thick, obnoxious jackets. I have a red jacket, which in my opinion looks the best. The best part, it keeps me warmer than most jackets of this size.
- Quality of Materials: The Alpine Microlight is made with 700-fill hydrophobic down. This helps to keep the down working (somewhat) under damp conditions. It also means it will dry faster. The outer fabric is made to be windproof and durable, which has proven to withstand even my beating up of it.
- Durability: This is a very durable jacket. The most I’ve put it through was a two-mile (six-hour) cave in Idaho with a lot of crawling, stemming, rappelling, and water. Crawling through tubes with less than 18 inches of clearance means rocks scraping up the jacket, rappelling means some rope drag, and the water means a lot of mud and grime getting all over the jacket. After the cave, I fully expected the jacket to be ripped to shreds, and all I had was a very tiny nick at the bottom. The jacket is light, but it’s not flimsy.
- Pockets: The jacket has three pockets. One left breast pocket is big enough for a phone or snacks, and two large side pockets. The pockets go through to the jacket's interior, meaning the down is on the outside of the pocket. A phone sitting in one’s pocket won’t freeze as fast as a pocket that would otherwise fit outside the down fill.
- Breathability: The jacket is very breathable. I tend to get hot really easily, so if I wear this on a mildly cool day, I will sweat through it, but when I wear it for what it’s for, cold alpine conditions, I never have an issue with wet sweat, and I stay warm all day.
- Warmth: It’s a really warm, lightweight puffy. It’s not the best for sitting around in extremely cold conditions. Still, it will be warm for most purposes, especially if I’m moving around at all (backcountry skiing, mountaineering, downhill skiing, hiking, etc.).
- Weight: Take a look at the name. It’s literally called the “Microlight Alpine.” It’s slim and light, and I hardly know it’s there when I wear it. If someone is going for weight, then look no further.
- Features: One big important deal for me was the helmet-compatible hood. I have not tried it with my large downhill skiing helmet, but it easily fits over a climbing helmet. This helps a lot to keep my neck and ears warm and prevents snow from falling down my back.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Waterproofing: This is a down jacket. It’s not meant to be waterproof. I recommend a shell to go over the top of the jacket if one expects wet weather.
Favorite moment with this gear
This jacket opened up my mind to the world of not being dragged down by a ton of weight. My favorite moment wearing this jacket was standing on the summit of Mt. Rainier. I felt like I was the king of the world, and I remember thinking, “Wow, I’m freaking toasty right now, and I’m not even wearing five shirts, a sweatshirt, and a poncho. This is the best jacket on earth.” I couldn't stop looking at it, and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.
Value for the money vs. other options
This jacket is 100% worth the money. What I get in terms of warmth, weight, and durability is worth every penny. What I’d save on cheaper equipment (like the “Patagonia M” or the “Columbia Lake 22”) I’d end up paying for in weight, pack space, and having to replace/repair quicker.
This jacket is a must for anyone looking into something light, durable, and form-fitting. Those into cold alpine sports, downhill skiing, or even just wanting to look really good around town will find that the Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket is 100% the jacket for them.