Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket Review 2019

  • Car Camper
  • Day Hiker
  • Ultralight Backpacker
  • Urban Hiker
  • Wilderness Backpacker

Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket Overview

“You know what everybody likes? Down jackets. Have you ever met a person that doesn’t like down jackets? Heck no. Down jackets are amazing.” Yes, I changed the original quote from Shrek, and switched out “parfait” with “down jackets”. But it works, right?

In all seriousness, who doesn’t love down jackets?! Snuggly bundles of love that keep you warm during spring nights at a concert, or alive while clinging to the side of an icy Himalayan peak. The only downsides? They lose efficacy and shrivel like the Wicked Witch of the West when exposed to water, and they can be gargantuan and unwieldy. Think Stay Puft Marshmallow Man taking on water like a canon-riddled schooner. (If you are under 30 I apologize for making you look up so many things in this paragraph)

However, these down-specific downsides are no more! The Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket features an impressive level of hydrophobic down, which is specially treated to repel water like magic. And it doesn’t give you that puffed up look like so many similar down jackets. It is heavier than some competition, but is built for the wet and truly cold parts of this world.

In fact, it’s so versatile, that we recommend it for all our Backpacker Types, a rare feat.

Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket Star Rating
  • Comfort
  • Durability
  • Warmth
  • Packability
4.5

Summary

The Rab MicroLight Alpine Jacket is a do-it-all, in all weather, down jacket. With supreme water resistance, impressive warmth, and a rugged exterior, you can take this jacket anywhere and stay warm.

While we haven’t awarded the Rab Microlight Alpine down jacket, we would call it the best rugged down jacket with water protection. It’s a near master of many scenarios, but gets edged out by lighter jackets with higher warmth to weight ratios, or jackets that cost less. Still, if you’re looking for a workhorse of a down puffy, you’ve found it.

We invite you to cloak yourself in knowledge by checking out the Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket review below, and by seeing where it ranks in our guide to the Best Down Jackets.

Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket Specifications

Feature Type Feature Specs What This Means
Weight 17 oz. (470 g) Slightly heavy for your typical down jacket. That said, it’s more burly than most, warmer, and built to withstand water.
Down Quality 750-Fill High quality fill. Not the highest (around 900), but solid.
Down Type European Goose Down, RDS, PFC-Free Hydrophobic Premium goose down that is responsibly sourced and treated to be water repellent. The treatment is also PFC-free, which is fantastic for the environment.
Fill Weight 5 oz. (143 g) Fill weight describes the weight of JUST the down in a jacket. This is a lot of down, which means it’s quite warm.
Shell Fabric Pertex Quantum Industry leading shell fabric. Lightweight, rip-resistant, feels good.
DWR Treatment Yes Both the shell and down itself is treated to resist water.
Number of Pockets 3 Two zippered hand pockets and a zippered chest pocket. Fairly standard.
Stuffs Into Itself Included Stuff Sack It doesn’t stuff down small, and doesn’t stuff into a pocket. But Rab includes a stuff sack if you want to use it.
Adjustable Hood Yes The hood has insulation, a stiff wire brim, and is adjustable.
Adjustable Waist Yes Two points of adjustability at the waist hem helps to lock in warmth.
Hood/Jacket Option Hooded and Jacket Rab offers hooded and hood-less versions for men and women.
Gender Men’s, Women’s Rab offers the jacket for men and women.
Sizes Available Men’s XXS-XXL, Women’s XS-XL Many sizes for men, a decent amount for women.
Manufacturer Warranty Limited Lifetime Rab has a solid warranty for its products, for the original owner with proof of purchase. If something breaks, like a zipper, be sure to get in touch.
Retail Cost $280 A high price for a down jacket. You’re paying for high quality materials, excellent fit, and brand name.

Gear Review of the Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket

Origins: Easing You In

My wife has created a closet just for my jackets. No joke. I’ve become the Imelda Marcos of outerwear. The issue is that I’ve always needed a different jacket for each activity. My light rain jacket keeps me dry, but not warm. My summit jacket keeps me warm, but not dry. And the combination takes up way too much space in my pack.

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Adding the Rab Microlight Alpine to the jacket rotation was easy, and it actually reduced the amount of gear in my pack.

So I happily found a hanger in my closet for the Rab Microlight Alpine, hoping it could be a jacket of all trades (I love it when puns just fall into my lap). Truly wanting to test its capabilities, I used it during a snowy, multi-day backcountry avalanche class, two kayak camping trips, a rainy car camping trip, and around town. Got to get in those use cases!

Revelation: The Moment I Knew

As I waited for my Rab Microlight Alpine to arrive, I perused the snow report for Bear Valley. In a few days a buddy and I would be attending an avalanche safety class, and given this year’s Sierra snowfall, I had some trepidation. This jacket had better be good because I was gonna need it!

A week later I pulled up to our meeting point and admired the towering snowdrifts, immediately realizing that the t-shirt I was wearing was a poor choice. I grabbed the Microlight Alpine from its spot at the top of my day pack (yes, it fit) and shrugged myself into it.

Rab-Microlight-Alpine-review-selfie
Bundled up on the way to avalanche class. Stay warm!

Instant warmth enveloped me, and it became clear that I had nothing to fear. The nights and early mornings were in the frosty teens (F), and I was snug as a bug in a down rug. Especially with the full hood covering my head. Other down jackets I’ve had have been stingy with their hood insulation, but the Rab Microlight hood sports the same down chops as the rest of the jacket.

In short: This jacket will keep you warm, folks.

Digging Deeper

A few weeks later I headed up to Tahoe for a kayak camping trip and brought the Microlight Alpine jacket to fend off the mid-spring chill. I planned to use it around camp in the mornings and evenings, but decided to throw it on as we pushed our kayaks into the lake (mostly for the photo!)

Rab-Microlight-Alpine-review-kayaking-up-close
Don’t worry about taking the Microlight Alpine near water.

While it proved to be too voluminous to wear under my personal flotation device (and too warm to wear while vigorously paddling), the jacket did shrug off the spray impressively.

Rab-Microlight-Alpine-review-kayaking-with-snow-1
Kayaking Lake Tahoe.

I was able to test the Rab Microlight’s water resistance twice more: a last minute camping trip in Morgan Hill (my wife won a triathlon in torrential rain while I stood in it), and another kayak camping trip in misty Tomales Bay. Both times I was extremely happy with how the jacket repelled water. I did put a rain jacket over the Rab Microlight during the epic Morgan Hill downpour, but it was mostly for added wind protection.

Rab-Microlight-Alpine-review-sitting-1
Endless warmth for sitting around camp.

Keep in mind that this is a down jacket meant for warmth, whose long-standing nemesis is water. It outperformed other down jackets I’ve used in these scenarios, which I attribute to the much improved PFC-free hydrophobic down (courtesy of a Nikwax collaboration), and the top-rate Pertex Quantum exterior.

One final note — the wire brim in the hood is awesome. A very thoughtful design that draws water away from your face.

Comfort – 5 Stars

I love the fit and feel of the Rab Microlight Alpine. I wear it out to dinner. I’ve worn it to bed while camping. I even wear it around the house occasionally. No pants, just the jacket.

Rab-Microlight-Alpine-review-sleeping-in-kayak
If you can sleep in a jacket on a lake, it’s comfortable.

Durability – 5 Stars

As I’ve gushed about, I have used this jacket every which way to Sunday and it has held up beautifully. No scuffs, tears, or down wilting. And for what it’s worth my summit jacket is made by Rab and is holding up just as well after years of hard use.

Warmth – 5 Stars

The best feature of this jacket. It will keep you comfortably warm without smothering you. Basically the perfect partner of jackets. I will reiterate, however, that you should not plan to exercise while wearing the Microlight Alpine — its star simply burns too bright.

Packability – 3 Stars

Given its heft and serious down insulation (it weighs just over a pound, which is “heavy” for the super lightweight down jacket field), the Microlight Alpine isn’t the most packable jacket I’ve ever used. But it’s a tradeoff. Sure, my lighter puffies take up less room in my pack, but they also don’t keep me as warm, and they definitely don’t do much against the rain.

Rab-Microlight-Alpine-review-selfie-packed-size
The Rab Microlight Alpine next to a 32 ounce Nalgene. Not exactly tiny. Packability is the only real weak point of this jacket, mostly due to the impressive amount of down and robust fabrics.

I think the tradeoff is worth it in this case as long as you can spare the room.

Fit

I am 5’9”, 155, with broad shoulders and a long torso. The Microlight Alpine I tested was a Medium and it fit me wonderfully and as a jacket built to layer, warm you evenly, and protect from rain. Remember, you want outer layers to be a bit big because you will generally be wearing them over multiple garments.

Rab-Microlight-Alpine-review-kayaking-takeoff
The fit is on point.

Grievances

There are just two small grievances that I’ve already mentioned.

The Rab Microlight Alpine does not squeeze down to microscopic proportions, bucking the current trend in the industry for the “ultralight, ultra-packable” down aficionados. It is also too warm to use while engaging in any significant physical activity.

But I don’t see these as grievances as much as data points. This jacket is ideal for camp comfort, particularly in cold, wet conditions. Under these circumstances, you’d be hard pressed to find a better down jacket.

Final Word

When it comes to warmth and water resistance for the weight, the Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket can’t be beat. In my jacket closet of wonders, it’s a diamond in the rough.

Where to Buy Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket

We tested a men’s Medium Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket. It’s offered for women as well, with the same name, and everyting is the same except for the fit.

The Microlight Alpine is also offered as a hood-less jacket, which is called the “Rab Microlight Jacket”. Apparently the “alpine” implies a hood. Anyway, this is the same jacket, and is excellent if you want a hood-less down jacket with the same specs.

We prefer hoods generally, as they offer more protection. In this case, the Microlight Alpine Jacket’s hood is excellent!

Compare Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket prices below.

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josh mathe bio pic

Josh Mathe

Josh Mathe is passionate about squeezing every last drop from life, and helping others do the same. He is the best-selling and award-winning author of "I, Athlete" and "In the Footsteps of Greatness", as well as a speaker, fitness expert, nutritionist, ultra endurance athlete, and life adventurer. Josh is the owner of One10 Performance & Nutrition, and when not in office he spends his days in the mountains moving as fast and light as possible. Josh holds a Master’s of Science in Human Nutrition, and is a certified sports nutritionist (CISSN), Performance Enhancement Specialist (PES), and endurance coach. He lives in Sacramento, CA with his wife and three crazy animals. For more information or to contact Josh directly, please visit his website.

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