The Alpinist Mountain Standards reviews apply Alpinist's tradition of excellence and authenticity to gear reviews by providing unbiased, candid feedback and anecdotal commentary to equipment tested (hard) in the field. Our panel is comprised of climbers who use the gear every day as part of their work and play. Only the gear they would actually buy themselves, at retail price, qualifies for the Alpinist Mountain Standards award. The five-star rating system is as follows:
One Star = Piece of junk.
Two Stars = Has one or more significant flaws, with some redeeming qualities.
Three Stars = Average. This solid piece of gear is middle-of-the-road on the current market.
Four Stars = Better than most comparable gear on the market. It has one or two drawbacks, but still 90% positive.
Five Stars = Is there such thing as perfection? An Alpinist Mountain Standards award-winner.
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Rab Neutrino Endurance Jacket: An Alpinist's Dream Come True
Posted on: September 8, 2007
Weight: 625 grams (size medium)
Sometimes first impressions are hard to shake, and I tried not to let my first impression of the Rab Neutrino Endurance jacket influence this review. No luck. The jacket wowed me at first appearance. Made from a water-resistant Pertex Endurance outer fabric and packed with 850+ goose down fill, it's an alpinist's dream come true: maximum warmth to weight ratio in a lightweight, weatherproof package.
I tested this piece during the summer, mainly in the Bugaboos, where I didn't hesitate to bring it along on every climb. Its light weight (625g) ensured it came everywhere. Finding myself caught in afternoon thundershowers from time to time, I was impressed at just how water-resistant the outer fabric was. I was equally impressed at the features and thought Rab put into the design. It has Velcro-adjustable cuffs, two-way zippers (key for fumble-free access to your harness and belay device), two external hand pockets with weatherproof zippers, an internal pocket and a stuff sack; it's somehow lightweight, warm and weatherproof all at once; and the cut is perfect for throwing over other layers. The down-filled hood is fixed, fits nicely over a helmet, and has a stiffened visor and an ingeniously simple draw cord closure system that would be easy to use, even with bulky gloves on, to "batten the hatches" when the time comes. The waist also has an elastic draw cord and is cut to just below waistline, which I thought was great for that little bit of extra warmth.
Rab is a UK-based company that has been on the scene for years in Europe but is still relatively unknown in North America. They mostly specialize in outdoor clothing and sleeping bags but have recently branched out to make gloves, gaiters, bivy sacks, lightweight tents and other climbing accessories. [Check back to find more reviews of Rab products in the coming months. —Ed.] The jacket, with a foreign name and a styley look, inevitably became a conversation piece when I was wearing it around Applebee Campground. I couldn't rave enough about it. Is there something I didn't like? Maybe it would be nicer to stuff it into its inner pocket instead of a stuff sack, but I'm grasping here.
I know this piece will become a staple in my pack when it comes time for winter adventuring, from winter mountaineering to ice climbing to ski touring to bar-hopping on those cold nights. Buy this if you're looking for the ultimate lightweight down jacket that can take a beating in the elements. Five stars.
Pros: Lightweight yet warm; water resistant; well-suited for every season, from winter to summer in the alpine; well designed; stylish
Cons: Compresses into stuff sack instead of inner pocket