Follow Josh, formerly from the Bristol Store as he takes on one of our most popular jackets and gives his thoughts on what makes the Microlight so special.
With continued social distance and precautions, at least these strange times have given us more space once again to enjoy nature and get out in the hills more. The most recent lockdown has been a bit of a change in weather since the previous, with some of the first morning frosts of the year along with some bitter wind chill. This has proven to be excellent timing to be able to test the new season Microlight Alpine down jacket from Rab. This is their classic lightweight, packable jacket suitable for both urban and mountain use, and just about everything in-between. So what has been updated in this latest version, and is it more sustainable?
Sustainability & Construction
I also have the 2018/19 version of this jacket, and just from my first impressions, I can already tell a difference in weight and construction. To start with, the latest model is just under 10g lighter than its predecessors and is now filled with P.U.R.E recycled down, 700-fill power to be precise with an improved down distribution.
P.U.R.E is the first GRS-certified recycled down, meaning that the down used is 100% natural, 100% recycled and 100% sustainable. This recycling process results in the reduction of millions of litres of water being used in manufacturing reused down products otherwise found in landfills, the end process waste is turned into organic fertilizer and ultimately resulting in a lower carbon footprint. The down is coated in a Nikwax hydrophobic finish which is water-based, PFC free and improves the resistance of the down from wetting out, maintaining the insulation properties and breathability of the jacket.
The main facing fabric is a Recycled 30D nylon Pertex Quantum, which is constructed by tightly weaving fine yarns, designed to trap still air and improve the efficiency of the insulation, while at the same time being lightweight, windproof and soft to the touch (I can certainly feel the difference in touch between the older and newer models). This is finished with a DWR coating which can withstand light rain and snow, but must be careful that the down does not get wetted out. Not forgetting the lining which is, you guessed it, recycled 20D nylon which feels nice and cosy against the skin should you wear just base layer under the jacket in warmer conditions.
The Jacket is nicely finished off with Zoned lightweight micro and nano baffle stitch-through construction, two zipped hand pockets and a large chest pocket, Internally elasticated cuffs and drawcord adjustable hem and an adjustable hood with a stiffened peak to maintain the shape and improve protection from the elements.
I’ve been testing this jacket out the last month or so in a variety of conditions and environments, and I can honestly say that the Microlight Alpine continues to be the best down jacket I’ve owned. To start with, I love the weight of it as it feels like you’re not really wearing something that packs that much insulation and protection, compared to my Columbia equivalent which is over 200g heavier.
It’s also incredibly versatile, having been used both up in the hills, on the coast, and in the town. The breathability of this jacket has also really impressed me – I normally run quite hot when out and about but I could wear this comfortably without having to change my layers underneath when doing more strenuous walking while maintaining its warmth once I had reached the trig points.
On one particular day in the Quantocks, the coastal temperature was only 8°C, with the bitter wind chill up on the moorland a few degrees below that. Bearing in mind I was only wearing a thin base layer, midlayer and the microlight, I could feel how windproof this jacket was and didn’t get any sense of the jacket being penetrated. Likewise, when we were caught out in misty rain, the jacket continued to perform well and still felt as warm as before, but I made to sure to hang to dry properly once I was home.
The fit is athletic meaning it fits snug around the torso, keeping the heat in, but with enough room around the shoulders and arms to allow movement when scrambling. The harness friendly pockets can certainly pack their fair share, with room for a large GPS / phone with room to spare in the chest pocket, and plenty of room in the main hand pockets too. I was also impressed with how easy it was to pack away into the stuff sack, with a pack size of 20xm x 15cm, making the microlight alpine the perfect size to fit into an already crammed climbing or hiking pack, or even in your commuting bag for those colder months facing train delays.
To summarise, this model is approaching its 15th year of production, and you can really see why Rab is classing this as their classic down jacket. For the price, versatility, performance and sheer aesthetics, this is a world contender and I will certainly be continuing to use both my Microlight Alpines on future expeditions and adventures. With their continued innovations and changes to make their products more sustainable and environmentally beneficial, I would certainly encourage anyone to check out the Microlight Alpine and their other products and support a local brand that produces top-quality products, no matter where you’re going with them.
This review was written by Josh formerly from our Bristol store. He is an accomplished travel photographer and blog writer and you can learn all about him and read up on his many adventures on his website here: https://joshrapermedia.co.uk/