For the price, there are few (if any) better buys around than the Rab Microlight Alpine down jacket, and it’s an ideal choice for most outdoorsy types. It’s versatile, well featured, and quietly does everything you want a down jacket of this weight to do.
Offers improved moisture resistance
Warm enough for most outdoor users
Seems slightly prone to down/feather loss over time
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The Rab Microlight Alpine down jacket is one of the most popular down jackets around, worn and loved by outdoors types from dirtbag climbers to weekend hill-baggers. Increasingly, it has made the crossover into everyday wear too, and nowadays you’re as likely to see the Rab Microlight being worn by supermarket mums as summit mountaineers. But there’s a reason for its popularity: it’s a warm, effective and versatile layer.
In fact, in many ways, it’s the definitive multi-purpose lightweight down jacket. Fortunately, the current version, the Microlight Alpine, has a few more technical features than previous generations, plus some refined styling to make it look a bit more mountain ready. It also has impressive eco credentials. It boasts a fully recycled 30-denier ripstop nylon shell and a recycled lining, plus GRS-certified, 700 fill power P.U.R.E recycled hydrophobic down.
• RRP: £195 (UK) /€230 (EU)
• Fill: GRS-certified 700-fill-power P.U.R.E recycled hydrophobic down
• Size (men's): XXS–XXL
• Size (women's): UK 8–18
• Weight: 466.5g/16.4oz
• Colours (men's): Black/Polar blue/Deep ink/Ascent red /Pine/Firecracker/Beluga
• Colours (women's): Black/Polar blue/Deep ink/Ascent red /Pine /Firecracker/Beluga blackcurrant/Atlantis/Steel
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In the field
This jacket has some great features that seem simple but which so many rivals get wrong: namely, three zipped pockets that are all sensibly placed, a handy stuff sack for easy packability and a brilliant insulated hood with a stiffened peak to keep off wind and light precipitation.
The Rab Microlight Alpine also proved itself to be supremely versatile. In fact, it’s mightily impressive that Rab have managed to create a single piece that adapts so well to so many different environments. We even found it to be a decent performer in classic damp British weather (especially compared to other down jackets we’ve used), when we were caught in an unexpected Snowdonian rain shower. Thanks to its DWR-treated face fabric and a moisture-resistant fill, it fended off most of the wet stuff and dried out surprisingly quickly afterwards too.
There are a couple of compromises: the midrange 700-fill-power down doesn’t quite deliver the same warmth as upmarket rivals with premium down insulation. It’s not something you’d necessarily notice unless you directly compared it to more expensive options, which we were lucky enough to also have on test. This also means it isn’t quite as light or packable as those pricier alternatives. And despite the supposedly ‘down proof’ face fabric, we have found that over time a few stray feather quills and down clusters do start to escape. But these are minor negatives in the grand scheme of things, and this is an excellent jacket overall.
An outdoors writer and editor, Matt Jones has been testing kit in the field for nearly a decade. Having worked for both the Ramblers and the Scouts, he knows one or two things about walking and camping, and loves all things adventure, particularly long-distance backpacking, wild camping and climbing mountains – especially in Wales. He’s based in Snowdonia and last year thru-hiked the Cambrian Way, which runs for 298 miles from Cardiff to Conwy, with a total ascent of 73,700 feet – that’s nearly 2½ times the height of Everest. Follow Matt on Instagram and Twitter.