The Capacitor Hoody midweight fleece from Rab is a top-quality outdoor garment, which works brilliantly as a mid layer or a standalone top. You will see this dynamic full-zip top being worn a long way from the wilderness, because it’s so stylish and multifunctional, but when it’s called into real action in its natural environment – on moors, mountains, high hillsides, crags, countryside paths and peaks – it performs perfectly. No wonder everyone is wearing it.
Perfect midlayer weight
Stretchy side panels facilitate freedom of movement
Almost entirely made from recycled materials
No thumb hoops
Trim fit won’t suit everyone
Hood lets the look down slightly
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Rab Capacitor Hoody: first impressions
A Rab Capacitor Hoody isn’t just for outdoors adventurers. Apparel from the British brand Rab has (in its homeland at least) crossed the Rubicon and burst through the fashion barrier, and now you’re just as likely to see Rab softshells, hardshells and fleece jackets being worn by parents at the school gates and revellers in beer gardens as you are at the crag and on the trails.
• List price: $150 (US) / £85 (UK)
• Fabric: Main: Recycled knit face brushed fleece (200g/m²); Side panels: Thermic stretch fleece with brushed back (175g/m²) made from polyester (94%) and elastane (6%)
• Gender availability: Men’s and Women’s versions available
• Sizes: XS-XXL; regular fit
• Weight: 398.5g / 14.1oz
• Colors: Men’s: Army / Beluga / Deep Ink / Graphene / Light Khaki; Women’s: Eucalyptus / Beluga / Orion Blue / Patriot Blue
Does that matter? Not a bit, in my opinion, so long as the brand hasn’t compromised on the technical performance of their gear. And I don’t think Rab have compromised anything, certainly not in the case of the Capacitor Hoody, which I am guilty of wearing everywhere – from the peaks to the pub – because I absolutely love it.
It’s comfortable and it keeps me warm, while looking pretty good with everything from hiking pants to jeans. So why wouldn’t you wear it whatever you’re doing? Especially in the shoulder seasons of fall and spring, when its midweight properties really shine. Some months during these seasons I literally have to be shamed into relinquishing it for laundering purposes by my family, and the only reason I sometimes choose to wear other hoodies out is because I know there’s a good chance other people will be sporting the same top.
But that’s enough of a window into my wardrobe – let’s take a look at why I think this is one of the very best fleece jackets around.
Available in a range of colors for men and women, and made with almost entirely recycled 200g/m² knit fabric, the Capacitor is a midweight fleece top with a brushed finish. It works really well as a mid layer to keep you warm when worn beneath a waterproof jacket on wet and windy days, but it’s even better as an outer layer when conditions are dry.
The super stretchy “Thermic” side panels are a stand-out feature. Made with elastane they are highly dynamic and facilitate full freedom of movement, so you can reach for the trickiest of holds when climbing or scrambling. They also give the Capacitor a trim fit, which I like (especially in a mid layer), but it won’t please people who prefer a looser garment.
There are two hand pockets and a chest pocket on this fleece, all with YKK zippers (complete with pull tags so they can be operated even when you’re wearing chunky hiking gloves) to keep the contents secure. The main zip is robust without being clunky, and there’s zip garage at the top to prevent it painfully catching chin skin or beard hair.
The top can be zipped right up to your chin, to provide extra face cover, and the thin hood, designed to go under helmets (and which doesn’t look quite as cool as the rest of the top, if I’m going to be hyper critical) supplies more protection against the elements when required.
The rear of the fleece extends beyond the top of your bum, which helps prevent it riding up your back when you’re carrying a backpack. A cord runs around most of the bottom of the fleece (from one side panel to the other) and a little toggle allows you to tighten the hem, to help keep it in place and stop breezes getting in.
Aside from its annoying (but completely understandable) popularity, my only other real complaint is that there are no thumb loops to help keep the sleeves in place when you put on a shell layer.
Rab Capacitor Hoody: on the trails
As mentioned, I do often have to forcibly stop myself from wearing this fleece for everyday messing about, not least so I can keep it in good condition for when I really need it, such as when I hit the hills and take to the trails.
My Rab Capacitor Hoody fleece has accompanied me on many adventures, from multi-day hikes and fastpacking missions to long days on mountainsides and at climbing crags. It’s ideally suited to so many outdoor pursuits it’s impossible to list them all, but I have appreciated its qualities most during climbing missions, such as the scrambling escapade I recently enjoyed on the spiky flanks of Tryfan amid the Glyderau in Snowdonia, North Wales. The dynamic and nonrestrictive nature of the “Thermic” side panels is massively useful when you’re climbing, allowing a full range of movement.
The Thermic fabric extends up the sides of the hood too, which keeps it tight to your head. Definitely designed more for functionality than fashion (you don’t see many people wearing this fleece with the hood up in the street) it keeps your ears nice and warm when conditions are chilly and breezy, and it fits snugly beneath a climbing or cycling helmet.
There are multiple occasions I could list when the Capacitor has diligently done its job, keeping me warm and comfortable in all sorts of conditions. But really, aside from the Thermic side panels, there isn’t anything especially revolutionary about this fleece top; it just does what it has been designed to do exceptionally well, and looks and feels great at the same time.
It’s an excellent, reliable performer, and my go-to fleece option when a midweight layer is required. I just wish everyone else wasn’t thinking the same thing…
Author of Caving, Canyoning, Coasteering…, a recently released book about all kinds of outdoor adventures around Britain, Pat has spent 20 years pursuing stories involving boots, bikes, boats, beers and bruises. En route he’s canoed Canada’s Yukon River, climbed Mont Blanc and Kilimanjaro, skied and mountain biked through the Norwegian Alps, run an ultra across the roof of Mauritius, and set short-lived records for trail-running Australia’s highest peaks and New Zealand’s Great Walks. He’s authored walking guides to Devon and Dorset, and once wrote a whole book about Toilets for Lonely Planet. Follow Pat’s escapades on Strava here and instagram here.