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 Generator Jacket: Lightweight and Brilliantly Designed
Posted on: November 14, 2007
Weight: 380 grams (15.5 ounces)
For this past summer's guiding season, I wanted a jacket light enough that I could carry it along, even if there was the possibility I might not need it. I found that this was a common situation in the Tetons—I would start summit days in shorts, convinced that the conditions would prove comfortable, but inevitably the winds would swirl and the temperatures would plummet to below freezing. So while guiding in the Tetons this summer, the lightly insulated Generator Jacket from Rab proved itself to be a brilliantly designed, key lightweight layer.
The Generator's no-frills design was built with the climber in mind. There are no extra inside pockets, no fleece-neck lining, and no zip-off arms—or any other senseless feature that would add unneeded weight, thus keeping my pack weight to a minimum. Additionally the elastic wrist cuffs are not too tight, and the arms are long, allowing a wide range of motion. I never felt the usual restriction of movement in the shoulders while climbing.
Rab also was smart about where to place zippers. The hand-warming pockets, sans zippers, made warming icy fingers a simple matter, yet a zipper was there where I needed it—on the breast pocket, keeping safe that crumpled topo and last hit of GU.
The jacket stuffs into its own pocket, down to the size of a grapefruit, thus avoiding the inevitable lost stuff sack. In addition to its packability, the Generator is also super light, so bringing it with you for those long belays is easily justified. Although Rab makes this jacket in a half-zip model, I preferred the full-length zipper, as it allowed me to shed the layer easily. Such a feature was convenient when we moved into the sun, the temperature soaring fifteen degrees.
There are two drawbacks to this jacket. First, it cannot be your only warm layer in very cold environments. Second, the fabric—like similar lightweight synthetic shells on the market—is easily torn; you would not want to wear the Generator while scratching your way up an off-width or trudging through heavy brush. With these limitations in mind, this piece is most practical for people who spend a lot of time carrying their gear with them in not-too-abrasive environments.
Overall, the Rab Generator was light enough to take with me when I would not have brought a jacket otherwise. It's sleek and comfortable, but it may break down after the a few years of loving use.
Pros: Lightweight; well designed; extremely packable.
Cons: Not warm enough to serve as only layer in cold environments; thin material is prone to rip or break down over time.