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Hands-on Gear Review
Rab Neutrino Endurance Review
Cons: Sticky zippers, Velcro hood adjustment.
Bottom line: This jacket is built for folks who seize the day throughout the winter, who need a low weight, warm, and water resistant model most.
The Rab Neutrino Endurance is our favorite technical winter parka. This parka is built to withstand severe winter weather conditions, is filled with high quality down that kept us warm in all tested situations, and has all of the features that we look for in a high performance technical jacket. This jacket is designed with the cold weather athlete in mind, but even the casual wearer will benefit from the warmth and weather resistance offered in this good looking puffy jacket. If you are looking for a more casual model that will protect you from the elements, check out our Editors' Choice winner, the Arc'teryx Camosun Parka, and for really frigid winters, you can't beat our Top Pick for Extreme Cold, the Canada Goose Expedition Parka.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Winter Jackets for Men of 2018
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Neutrino Endurance was made with the unforgiving winters of the United Kingdom in mind, where the need for warm clothing overlaps with the need for protection from the elements, as the alpine climbing conditions are typically quite cold, snowy and miserable. The style of the jacket is that of many technical climbing oriented parkas, which uses full baffled construction with a puffy outer appearance and few unneeded features. This jacket has nine ounces of 800 PF hydrophobic goose down for insulation, and an outer shell made of Pertex Endurance fabric. The jacket weighs 22 ounces for a size large. Available colors include the flashy Electric Blue and Pear (tested), as well darker colors such as Beluga and Twilight.
Amongst other similarly-constructed, technically-minded winter parkas in this review, the Endurance was the warmest tested. This is thanks to its overfilled, nine ounces of 800-fill-power down, an increase of almost 30 percent more than the next warmest technical parka, the Patagonia Fitz Roy Down Jacket.
Features such as an insulated adjustable hood and elastic/Velcro cuff closures allow the wearer to seal out cold drafts and stay warmer for longer. Another design feature handy for such jackets used primarily for activities out in the snow like ice climbing and ski touring is a longer hem that covers your backside when sitting down on a snowy bench or on a chairlift. Adjustable hem cords provide another means of keeping body heat trapped in or dumping off heat if getting too warm. While the Canada Goose Expedition Parka was substantially warmer, this warmth comes at a high cost of mobility. If warmth and performance are needed, a heavy and cumbersome jacket may not cut it, and that is where the Neutrino takes over.
Down jackets, especially lightweight ones, need to be coddled in nasty weather, or else the down feathers will get wet, clump, and insulate you about as well as a wet dishrag. We really appreciated the attention to weather resistance on this jacket, as it gave us a lot more confidence in venturing out in poor weather than with other similar parkas. The Neutrino Endurance is so named for its use of a Pertex Endurance outer shell material, which is a PU-coated, breathable fabric that allows the jacket to both shed snow and light rain and transmit the moisture built up through perspiration out, keeping the down dry. Pertex Endurance is not nearly as breathable as other fabrics, such as the cotton blend of the Fjallraven Greenland, though that jacket was designed to keep its wearer warm and dry when being inactive, so moisture management is less of a concern.
Rab has also used a chemically treated hydrophobic down that provides an extra margin of security against wet insulation if the Pertex shell becomes inundated. We really liked the three-way adjustable hood cinches that keep warm air from escaping whether you are wearing a ski helmet or a knit hat. Also, the elastic wrist cuffs with additional Velcro straps give lots of options for a tight seal around gloves.
For being a minimalist jacket with few features beyond what are necessary in an alpine-inspired technical parka, the Endurance was very comfortable. The Pertex Quantum inner lining was smooth and there were no exposed hems to irritate you even when wearing a t-shirt underneath. We liked that the longer fit of the jacket gave us added warmth and cushion when we sat down on a cold bench or on the snow slope when taking a break from ice climbing.
A lot of down-filled parkas we have used over the years are cut big and boxy like an insulated potato sack, so we really liked the attention that was given to the tailoring of this jacket's body and hood. Not only does a good fit ensure ease of movement and increased comfort, but less extra space inside also means that your jacket can do a better job of insulating you. Interestingly, while they have very different overall weights and targeted audiences, the body hugging design of the Rab closely approximates the close, comforting fit of our Best Buy Marmot Fordham.
The Endurance has only a few purpose-driven features, but they are well thought out and for the most part well executed. This coat has a three-way adjustable hood, using a Velcro tab on the back of the head instead of a draw cord. The hood is helmet compatible and features a wire brim to keep snow or rain out of your face. We prefer the hood adjustment to be made from elastic, as the Velcro kept coming undone when we had a helmet on underneath. The updated version of this parka changes the hood stowing system from a Velcro tab to a simpler strap that does not irritate the back of your neck as much. Two hand pockets have water-resistant zippers and fleece lining on the back of the hand only, and one large zippered internal pocket gives you a place to put things you'd like to dry out. We would have preferred full fleece lining on the pockets, and an additional interior pocket for placing large items like a thermos or wet gloves.
The Rab has more features than the Columbia Gold 650 TurboDown or the Helly Hansen Dubliner, but it has fewer than the Canada Goose or Mountain Hardwear Therminator.
Baffled down jackets are a staple of cold weather climates, seen in campgrounds and campuses alike. This is a great looking jacket — it is form fitting, clean looking, and available in seven solid colors, from the louder Pear color which we tested to a more neutral Black. The baffled construction, despite the athletic fit, does leave the wearer looking quite puffy, so if you are looking for a warm jacket that has a more professional appearance and still is warm and weather resistant, look at the Editors' Choice winning Arc'teryx Camosun Parka.
30 denier coated nylon was used as the outer shell of the Rab Neutrino Endurance, and the added PU coating of the Pertex shell gives more resistance to snagging and tearing than the standard DWR-treated shell used on the Patagonia Fitz Roy Down Parka. While taking this jacket out of backpacks filled with burr covered snow shovel blades and sharp ice screws, we did not experience any durability issues, but harder users who don't want to spend as much time thinking about whether their jacket is going to rip might do well to look at a more rugged option such as the Fjallraven Greenland.
The YKK Aquaguard water-resistant zippers are a constant source of frustration to many users due to the PU coating on the zipper interfering with how smoothly the zipper can slide, and this model was no stranger to this issue. It is not a deal breaker for us though, and we suggest using McNett Zip Care to clean and lubricate the zipper if you experience this issue.
This jacket finds its best performance in applications where weight, warmth and weather resistance are critical, such as alpine climbs and backcountry ski tours. The compressibility of the high loft jacket adds to its appeal for users who need to carry it with them in their pack as well.
With a price tag of $375, Rab created a great jacket at a great value. The use of quality down fill, good construction and durable materials make this jacket a very good value when compared with similar products.
If you need a warm coat, live in a climate or participate in activities where better weather resistance is required, this jacket is a great option for winter athletes and a good option for those looking for a more casual warm jacket.
— Jed Porter
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