Follow Exeter shop’s Dave as he takes on Rab’s robust rain gear and gives his thoughts.
First released in 2020 the Rab Kangri GTX Jacket and Pant have been part of Rab’s mid-range for the last couple of years; described as ‘robust and reliable’, I automatically take this as marketing speak for heavy and noisey. I was lucky enough to take both on our recent team trip to Scotland as well as see what they can do on the bleakest days on the north moor whilst walking an excitable spaniel.
From reading other user reviews online, the only criticism the Kangri jacket seems to get is about the fit. The best advice I can give is to try one on! For as long as I can remember I am either a medium or a large. However, in the Kangri Jacket, I selected a small, even with various layering options underneath. At 6’2” and being a fairly slim build, a size small gave the perfect waist and arm length which others have criticised it for. I was pleasantly surprised by the length of the body as so many GORE-TEX shells on the market are deliberately cut too short about the waist. The Kangri doesn’t come up short, providing a good level of protection around the thigh without there being too much material to become cumbersome when using a climbing harness or rucksack waist-belt. The Kangri Pant is closer to a regular fit and maybe a little generous. I usually wear a 32” waist trouser with a long leg so I’ve been using a medium-long in the Kangri Pant which cinches in using Velcro tabs at the waist and is a great fit when wearing thermal layers or just over winter-weight trousers.
With the various prices and membranes being used by all outdoor companies, it can be very easy to get confused, and buying a waterproof jacket can become a frustrating experience. The term “GORE-TEX jacket” can mean a lot of things as GORE-TEX currently produce 6 different membranes. The Rab Kangri GTX uses GORE-TEX Performance which could be described as standard GORE-TEX. It’s the original and still the most suitable for most of us, it’s not the most breathable, most robust, or lightest but sits right in the middle of these areas making it perfect for a whole host of users and environments.
Both the Kangri GTX Jacket and Pants use a 3-layer 70D construction boasting an impressive 28,000 Hydrostatic Head with a 100% recycled outer fabric. Simply put, this is how Rab can say with confidence that the Kangri collection is both extremely waterproof and robust. The Kangri GTX Jacket and Pants have RET <9 (resistance to evaporating heat transfer) which is a measurement of breathability. Essentially, the Kangri has a “good breathability” rating meaning there are more breathable products out there but not many that are as tough and as waterproof. In recent years, the protective DWR coating that is applied to the outside of waterproof jackets has become a lot more environmentally friendly but needs to be reapplied more frequently as a result. Any waterproof jacket on the market will face the same problem, even expensive ones, and the Kangri is no exception.
If you’re after some groundbreaking new features from your next waterproof jacket, I’d look elsewhere but if you’re like me and have asked yourself how often you need to save a few grams or need an OS map-sized pocket and decided that doesn’t matter, then the Kangri could be just right for you. The Kangri Jacket doesn’t do anything groundbreaking but at the same time doesn’t do anything wrong either. All external zips (main, hand pockets, and armpit vents) are high-quality YKK Aquaguard zips which aren’t guaranteed to be waterproof but are extremely effective at keeping the water out. The main zip also features an interior storm flap for extra protection. Elasticated hem and waist drawcords allow for a unique fit and are fully adaptable for wearing various layers at different times of the year. Now to a feature that can be a make or break to the many customers I’ve encountered over the years – the hood! The Kangri GTX Jacket has what Rab describes as a mountain hood, which allows for a helmet to just fit but might feel restrictive. However, this means that for most users who either don’t need a helmet-compatible hood or do so infrequently then this isn’t a deal breaker. The hood has a wired peak and a huge range of adjustments meaning you can get a close, comfortable and unique fit. I was very pleased to see Rab has designed a functional interior zip pocket that is the perfect phone and car key size meaning you can store your valuables behind 3 layers of 70D fabric with a zip that can leak.
The Kangri Pants once again aren’t packing any groundbreaking features but YKK Aquaguard full-length zips on both legs make throwing them on over boots in a downpour a doddle. With articulated knees aiding movement, velcro tabs on the waist to cinch them in, and elastic around the ankle what else do you really need from a trouser?
Where’s better to test a set of waterproofs than in Scotland? On our recent staff trip completing the Affric Kintail way, the Kangri GTX Jacket and Pants accompanied me along the way and proved to be a valuable companion. Although heavier than other 3-layer jackets, a handful of grams doesn’t bother me and wouldn’t put me off using a jacket as I’ll take one less bag of sweets or clean the dirt off my boots. At first, I did find the jacket quite loud, rustley, and a bit stiff but it softened very quickly and after a short time walking I wasn’t fussed at all and simply forgot I was wearing it. The way the jacket fit me meant that even with a 58L pack with a bulky waist belt, I could still access the hand pockets. I’m not sure whether this is a change they have made to this season’s model or whether it was the sizing on me. In the usual Scottish snell, I would usually get irritated by a flappy hood but Rab has done a great job by making the Kangri’s hood big enough to not impede movement but not so big that it flaps around; with adjustments at the back and on each side, I managed to get a great fit without any trouble. Although not strictly a packable jacket, rolled up into its hood it really doesn’t take up too much space at all. Really the question most asked is its level of breathability, recently the southwest hasn’t had any cold weather yet, just wet, so a great opportunity to check this out. I really like the jacket and want to say it wasn’t clammy and breathed like a dream but it doesn’t. I generally get very warm when walking and when putting some effort in I did get very warm. I want to add that the pit zips do a very good job at reducing this and the only time I found I was really overheating was when traversing uphill. This hasn’t changed my overall opinion of the jacket as with clever laying (just a base layer) I was much more comfortable and I’d sooner be warm on occasion and have confidence that in this hard-wearing reliable jacket I won’t be getting wet or cold.
Waterproof over trousers are funny thing I don’t know many people who like wearing them and in the event they come out of the pack they can just be a hassle which has been my opinion for ages – that is until the Kangri Pant. Due to the full length zip getting them on over my size 11 feet even in winter boots is quick and easy. They fit great, with enough space to fit over thicker trousers but not too much that they flap around and an elastic draw cord at the bottom prevents them from riding up when scrambling. Only time will tell whether these pants are as good as they are feeling now but after being dragged through gorse, kneeling down and slipping and sliding down grassy banks there still 100% waterproof and with the level of abrasion and misuse trousers get the real test will be how long they stay as good as they are now.
Pros and Cons
- Extremely Waterproof and windproof
- Great sized good
- Regular fit,
- Interior pocket
- Hem and Waist adjustment
- Heavier in comparison to others on the market
- Stiff and rustley at first
To summarise, If you’re looking for a technical mountain jacket for Scottish winter ascents or your next alpine exploits or a dual-purpose jacket and pant set that you could walk and run in then I’d look elsewhere. However, if you are a British hill walker that wants waterproofs that are robust, reliable, and fit in a way more suited to your activities then the Kangri GTX Jacket and Pants could be for you. Simply designed and reliable, this could be a perfect set-up whether you’re bagging Munro’s or just walking the dog but need gear that’s going to keep you comfortable year-round, look no further.