I spend a lot of time looking at and testing gear obviously. How much time I spend doing testing verses actually just using the gear is dependant on how much I like it. If I like the gear I do a quick review and then use it and forget about it. My perfect piece of gear is one I never notice while it is being used.
If I get confused on gear, and I do, I am amazed that other consumers actually get what they what from all the gear that is available.
Here is a classic example from Greg at Gear30, another blogger @
A comment Greg left here on the blog which opened my eyes a bit on RAB gear,
"Rab Jannu would be more in the Peak XV, Trollveggen range (30-35oz overall weight, baffled, etc). Neutrino Endurance is sewn-through, Neutrino Plus is baffled, two different jackets. Neutrino Endurance is about the same weight (22oz) as Lyngen, 29" back length (almost same as Lyngen), almost identical jackets.
All I meant by different applications was that I would take the Neutrino or Lyngen on a colder, longer trip than the infinity because there's more coverage. I'd take infinity when less weight and smaller pack is the priority."
And a current review
I get confused as I said. So do others. It is too easy and none of us agree all the time. For down jackets I have here a Eddie Bauer Peak XV and BC Micro Therm, a Narrona Trollveggan and Lyngen, Rab Neutrino Plus Jacket and Infinity. BC Micro Therm is in the next review.
weight insulation construction
XL at the shoulder box wall/sewn through
Eddie Bauer Peak XV 1091g/ 38.5 5" box
Narrona Trollveggan 1063g/ 37.5 3" box
Rab Neutrino Plus 794g/ 28 5" box
Arcteryx Duelly 794g/28 2.5" non laminated syn
Narrona Lyngen 737g/ 26 3" sewn + layer
Mont Bell PermaFrost 694g/24.5 4.5" box
Rab Neutrino Endurance 650g/ 22.9 3" sewn
Mtn H Nilas 652g/ 23 3.5" box/sewn thru arms
EB BC Micro Therm 590g/ 21 2.5" sewn + layer
Mont Bell Mirage 420g/ 14.7 3.5" box
Rab Infinity 402g/ 14 3" sewn
There is a sweet spot between design, use and weight. Hard to define what will work best for you. But for my own use generally the warmth to weight ration will cut through all the fog. What works best for me has little to do with the quality of these jackets. All are high quality, state of the art, down jackets. Any one of them will keep you warm on most occasions. Each has a forte' and specific use worth searching for if you want to spend your money wisely. Without having all these jackets at hand in front of me there is no way I could have made a educated decision on what was best for my own use. And I continued to be surprised almost every time I start making these kinds of comparisons.
Between the fully baffled Eddie Bauer Peak XV and the sew through Rab Infinity there is a lot of leeway, weight and warmth.
I had expected the Lyngen Trollveggan to be one of the ultimate down garments. The Lyngen certainly is.
"Bjørn-Eivind Årtun soloing high on the Cassin in 2010, wearing a Norrona Trollveggen. Colin Haley photo.
The Trollveggen had a distinct lack of loft compared to other jackets of similar weight. It was disappointing. As was the over all weight. I actually left this one to air out for a week and ran it through the drier a bit to make sure I wasn't missing something on the down's loft. I wasn't.
The Eddie Bauer Peak XV, Narrona Lyngen, Rab Infinity I've all reviewed in depth previous. Some more than once. A quick search here will dig those up.
On the Trollveggen I won't belabor the point. I don't do written reviews of gear I don't recommend. Sadly I'll leave it at that and the numbers posted above.
In my last comparison the Narrona Lyngen came out ahead of the Rab Infinity. But it was close. Easy to have a preference for either depending on your priorities. In this comparison the Trollveggen wasn't even in the same ball game as the excellent RAB Neutrino Plus. The Peak XV is. But if forced to choose I'd take the Neutrino Plus over the Peak XV. The loft and warmth are similar...the weigh isn't.
The RAB will save you 10.5 oz. And that is enough to notice in a big down jacket. And I like the RAB's fit better for technical climbing
I'll admit it. In just a week this is now my favorite down jacket. I've spent a good bit of the week's time in this jacket. And like it more every day. A number of reasons for that so please bare with me while I explain. Because I feel like I am cheating on my previous favorite the Narrona Lyngen. Make no mistake the Lyngen is still also a very nice down jacket.
Two pictures above are the Neutrino with and w/o helmet
These two are of the Lyngen with and w/o helmet
But it is hard to argue 5" of loft. 2 more full inches of loft than the Lyngen. And most importantly the Neutrino Plus is not sewn through but fully baffled. The hood is better on the Lyngen and the addition of the Primaloft in all the right places is a minor plus. There are few, if any, better climbing hoods, than the Lyngen if you want to use a helmet. The extra loft @ a full 5" is noticable when you are using the RAB as part of your sleeping system
You might sleep with the hood up but with big down jackets you don't always need or want a helmet. What you'll always want when you pull one of these out of your pack is warmth. One observation I had written previous is that true cold weather down climbing jackets were historically fully baffled. That hasn't changed. But true down "technical climbing" jackets are hard to fine in my experience these days. Not all, but some of the best are listed in this blog post.
the Lyngen's hood actually being used at a belay
There are some exceptional sewn through down jackets mentioned here but given a choice I'd really rather have a fully baffled jacket. Simple reason...they will always be warmer.
When a fully baffled jacket weighs in at the sewn through jacket's numbers or close we have a winner.
XL Narrona Lyngen 737g or 26 oz
XL Rab Neutrino Plus 794g or 28oz
The Neutrino Plus also has a 30" back measurement in a XL. 2" more than the Noronna all around. It's hood doesn't fit a helmet as well but it does fit a helmet well enough. But it also has a stand up collar that includes the hood with a velcro "latch". The "latch" allows one to climb in the jacket with the hood buried and free of snow when it is not up.
Add articulated sleeves/elbows to that list and the Velcro and elastic wrist closures which work extremely well. All in all you have a very sophisticated jacket from RAB here. One that oozes warmth and comfort. When wearing the Neutrino Plus all that is actually noticable. I kid you not it surprises me just rotating jackets the obvious differences.
I love hoods for their added warmth and the little weight involved. But I almost never climb in one. Generally it is a hood up in belay mode and hood down, "I'm climbing!". On big, cold routes where I might be climbing in a down jacket for a length of time on moderate ground I'd simply tuck the hood and latch the Velcro tab on the Neutrino Plus when the weather was dismal. Easy enough to do and the jacket will stay drier for when you really need that hood.
the "latched hood" option which I like very much
the result is a huge stand up collar that offers a lot of protection and little chance of catching snow
The front and side zippers are all water resistant YKK. Not the easiest zippers to manipulate but certainly more weather proof than some available.
The "hard warmer" pockets are interesting in that they have no internal insulation. Smart design really as the pockets put your hand or gear directly against a single layer of nylon on the inside of the jacket, close to your body's heat. All that makes the jacket more trim and less bulky around the harness/waist area. And easier to dry out if required. I like the design effort.
The shell is made of the very water-resistant Pertex Endurance fabric. The fabric is almost waterproof. Pertex Endurance is a reasonably breathable fabric, breathing nearly as well as popular waterproof-breathable fabrics with laminates, membranes, or microporous coatings.
30D triple rip stop Pertex® Endurance
275g (L) of 800 fill power superior quality European goose down
Box wall construction
Long torso for better core-body insulation
Helmet compatible fixed hood, with wired peak and velcro tab adjustment
2 hand warmer pockets with YKK water resistant zips
1 internal mesh pocket, 1 internal zip pocket
2-way, water resistant YKK front zip and internal insulated zip baffle
Laminated velcro cuff tabs, and hem drawcord
Supplied with stuff sac
This video below is worth watching and likely better than my write up but doesn't really tell you just how good the Rab Neutrino Plus really is. I like it enough to even keep the only XL I could get a hold of which was in the dark blue "Marin" color.
Easy to find on sale currently and worth hunting down imo.
More on another RAB jacket the Neutrino Endurance, from my buddy in Chamonix, Dave Searle, as he gets back to it after a broken knee earlier this winter.
Neutrino Endurance is sew through and about the same weight as Lyngen and the 29" back length (almost same as Lyngen) makes for a very similar jacket in many ways. But the Lyngen is much higher tech in construction and the pattern cut. You'll also want to dbl click the picture above for full effect :)
Rab Neutrino Endurance?
by Dave Searle
With a baffling array of different down belay jackets on the market it can be difficult to know what to go for. You could spend hours deliberating between pack size, weight, length, features, fill power, down quality or even colour……or you could buy a Rab Neutrino Endurance and get on with the important stuff.
The most popular down jacket in the world is the North Face Nuptse Jacket. A classic piece of kit
adored but the masses for its clean lines and high fashion appeal. This jacket is however as about as useful to a technical ice or mixed climber as a walking axe on a M6 and has no place in this article or even on this site.
The second most popular down jacket (I am talking on British shores) is the Rab Neutrino Endurance. This is bought and used by everyone who knows that a North Face Nupste is better suited to the Pub Crawl than the Cold Haul. Simple, clean, effective. Nothing much has changed on the Neutrino Endurance since its debut nearly a decade ago which is a very good example of……
"if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
If I had it my way I would change one thing about it. I would add a lightweight mesh pocket on the inside for gloves and gas canisters. That’s it.
I’ve had mine for a few months now and it’s had a pretty boring life so far. My circumstances have dictated more Pub crawling than cold hauling but despite this my Neutrino Endurance still got out and about with me dog walking and the such. I’ve worn it in the traditional UK weather of “light rain, light wind, sort of cold….. but not really” I was impressed with its ability to stand up to a light shower which bodes well for Ice Climbing on the slightly warmer, “drippy” days.
The first week I was back in Chamonix after two months in the UK I was greeted with -20C temps. At
these sort of temperatures my mind and body start to shut down and I was more than grateful for my Rab NE on those long waits for the bus in Cham or the 500m dash to the next drinking establishment. Without it I probably would have died of exposure on numerous occasions but thankfully 225g of 800Eu fill down staved off any such tragedy. If it was any colder I would have needed something
more but for most of the temperatures that are encountered out here I think this jacket is pretty spot on for warmth. I like the cuffs, they work brilliantly for sealing in the warmth and I like the design of the hood too which is slightly on the small side for going over a helmet, but only slightly. "
There is a trend here..might pay to take note of it :)
weight for a Large is: 625g (22oz)
◦30 Denier large ripstop Pertex® Endurance, soft Pertex® Quantum inner
◦225g (L) of 800 fill power superior quality European goose down
◦Stitch-through baffle construction
◦Fixed down filled hood with wired peak
◦2 hand warmer pockets with YKK water resistant zips
◦1 internal security pocket
◦2-way water resistant YKK front zip and internal down-filled zip baffle
◦Adjustable velcro cuffs and hem drawcord
◦Supplied with stuff sac