Tuesday 19 March 2019

Rab Neutrino Pro Jacket - tested and reviewed

Written by Marie Cheng

Fernie, British Columbia - Canada’s powder capital.  Big mountains, hair-raising vertical drops, vast alpine bowls and deep powder.  There is simply no better place to develop a thirst for technical and untamed terrain and get lost in the backcountry. 

With abnormally weird fluctuating weather patterns this ski season, there were days which saw temperatures dropping to as low as minus 27 degrees C.  Whilst not so great for a frostbitten face, it provided the perfect opportunity to see how the Rab Neutrino Pro Jacket would fair in some of the Canada’s harshest winter conditions. 

Rab describes the Neutrino Pro as a “technical mountain jacket suitable for winter alpine conditions up to 4000m”.  It has been designed with a “weather-resistant Pertex Quantum Pro outer fabric to help deal with spindrift and snow”.

Whilst some would argue that the jacket is designed more for the likes of climbing Kilimanjaro and alpine ascents; the varying conditions, terrain and activities over six weeks in British Columbia enabled us to test the jacket in a number of comparable situations.  We put the jacket through its paces to see how well it would perform in deep powder, on a backcountry hut-to-hut touring trip, testing the snowpack during avalanche training, as well as ripping it up on the groomers.

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Features

First and foremost - the Rab Neutrino Pro is pretty toasty!  It does exactly what it says on the tin with a down fill power of 800 for warmth.

But for that reason, we would say that for everyday skiing (where temperatures range +/- 5), this jacket would be far too hot.  Active Gore-Tex shells are much more effective in these temperatures where layering and pit zips are ideal.  However, where the jacket really came into its own was when Canada experienced the full force of the Polar Vortex that hit North America at the beginning of February.

Despite being in constant snowfall or skiing through deep powder for 6-8 hours, the Neutrino Pro’s water-repellency features stood up to the test.  The jacket is made out of Pertex Quantum Pro outer fabric and a Pertex Quantum lining, which means that it has an ultra thin water-resistant coating to provide weather resistance in extreme conditions.  

Rab also uses an ethically sourced European Goose Down that has been certified by the  ‘Responsible Down Standard’. These down feathers have been treated with Nikwax as part of the manufacturing process, which allows it to be hydrophobic and reduce water absorption.

The jacket’s helmet compatible hood saw it extend to ski helmets and the jacket boasts of a 2 way YKK Vislon front zip with an insulated baffle to keep out the snow and cold.  The jacket also features two hand pockets on the front and an inside chest pocket which proved useful to keep valuable things secure and also warm like a phone, whose battery is susceptible to the cold!


Pack down size

Skiing, and particularly backcountry ski touring, is an extremely equipment heavy sport.  Probes, shovels, transceivers, helmets, skins, gloves, goggles, water bottles, food, extra snacks, spare repair kit, duct tape.  You name it.  And they all have to go into our backpacks as well as our other essential spare warm layers.

The Rab Neutrino Pro is lightweight and extremely compressible and comes with its own stuff sack.  It fitted easily in my 30L day sack (alongside all the above mentioned equipment!) and was an essential part of my kit especially during ski/skins change over and on some of the downhill sections.

Fit

I’m 5’4” and am pretty slight so I wear an XS (Size 8).  So first impressions when I first put it on was that the jacket seemed to be a little on the bulky side.  This extra roominess however, allowed it to be used as an effective outer layer in colder temperatures.  I was able to comfortably put on underneath a merino base layer, an insulated mid layer jacket and a down hoodie insulated jacket and still move around unrestricted and the full flexibility to ski.   


Aesthetics

The Women’s Neutrino Pro comes in a choice of three colours; Beluga (Black), Serenity (Green), and Blueprint (Blue).  Despite the comment earlier on the jacket being a little bulky (though I am one of those who likes many of my jackets extremely fitted); the down jacket is still definitely one of the more attractive down jackets out there.

Rab is not as prominent as some of the other brands in Fernie and other parts of Canada, but has an increasingly growing fan base with the jacket often being the talk of the local Fernie outdoor shops on each visit!


Overall

Overall, I would describe the Neutrino Pro as a good and highly effective, warm down jacket that is also pleasing on the eye.  The price of $480 is reasonable comparable to other down jackets, with the jacket being built to last, as can be testament to the number of falls experienced all season! 

I would also hasten to add that despite the jacket not being made specifically for the purposes of skiing; the fact that it packs down easily and can boast of the water-repellency specifications (the Pertex outer and inner layers and hydrophobic treatment of the down); meant that I got a lot more use out of it than I had expected. 

After 6 weeks in Canada, I can safely say that the jacket will remain on my kit list each time I head into the mountains.

Link: https://rab.equipment/ca/women-s-neutrino-pro-jacket