Max from our Web team puts these waterproofs through their paces.
The Rab Downpour Plus series is a lower cost, low-weight series of waterproofs, and I’ve recently had the chance to test a full set in realistic conditions. Here’s my thoughts:
The classic ‘lab’ tests (Hydrostatic Head, Moisture Vapour Transmission Rate etc) are useful when deciding between gear, but it’s easy to get bogged down in the details and they don’t always translate to how a jacket performs in the real-world. During our Taunton Leisure staff trip I had the opportunity to test the Rab Downpour Plus 2.0 jacket and trousers in more realistic conditions.
Initially, it didn’t look like we were going to get a chance to test our waterproofs – with Dartmoor showing nothing but sunny skies for the first two days of our trip.
Wednesday morning proved differently. Wind and icy raindrops attacked from the fog like a horde of bees – a perfect chance to test out the new Rab waterproofs. With this Downpour Plus 2.0 set being my first step away from traditional Gore-Tex hard shells, I was a bit apprehensive on how the Pertex Shield membrane would compare.
I needn’t have worried. The jacket and trousers had no problems keeping me dry throughout the continuous rain we faced, despite it’s HH of 20,000mm (compared to Gore-Tex’s 28,000mm).
Both the jacket and the trousers did ‘wet out’ after a while on the moors, but this does not mean they let water in – it’s just the point at which the DWR coating no longer causes moisture to ‘bead’ off of the garment’s surface. I would say that the point at which these wet out is very much to be expected considering that they both use a 40D face fabric, which keeps weight down, but it is not as resistant compared to heavier and thicker 70D+ fabrics that you might find on proper mountaineering garments, for example. In addition, both the jacket and the trousers use PFC-free DWR coatings, which boast fantastic environmental credentials, but unfortunately do not last quite as long as their older counterparts. That being said, the DWR coatings on these garments, or any other waterproofs for that matter, can easily be topped up with a product such as Nikwax TX Direct if necessary.
I will say that the level of breathability positively surprised me during our uphill slog through the rain. I didn’t expect such an affordable and lightweight set of waterproofs to breathe as well as they did. When used in conjunction with the Rab Nexus Hoody and Mountain Equipment Ibex Mountain Trousers, I found that both the jacket and trousers didn’t produce the ‘clammy’ feeling which is normally common in hard shell waterproofs. This may be due in part to the 2.5 layer construction of the jacket and trousers – which I found in real-world terms to outperform my, admittedly much older, 2 layer GoreTex PacLite jacket, even if it doesn’t on paper (in terms of MVTR). A further aid to the breathability was the large pit zips, which defend from the elements with YKK Aquaguard zips.
This brings me onto the jacket and trousers’ other features. Both feature YKK Aquaguard zips all-around for excellent weather protection without the need for annoying external storm flaps. The jacket also features two very large front pockets, suitable for maps, hands, snacks, and more. These pockets are situated quite high up on the jacket, but this really helps when using the hip strap of a rucksack. Also, the jacket features hook-and-loop adjustable cuffs which can be sinched down over gloves to keep all moisture out. In addition, the fully adjustable hood and it’s wired peak allowed me to keep the hood close to my face and head to reduce flapping, increase visibility, and keep out the elements. There’s also a fleece-backed section neck and chin guard to prevent any rubbing or discomfort during adventures.
One feature I loved about the Downpour Plus 2.0 trousers is the full side zips. These zips, unlike some other over-trousers, extend all the way up to the waist band and feature dual zippers. This not only allows for quick and easy donning of the trousers when wearing boots, but allows for full pocket access – be that cargo or regular pockets. These full side zips also allow for venting, as you can keep a small section of the zip open, further increasing breathability. There is also drawcord adjustment at the waist and the hem of the trousers which are easily manipulated even whilst wearing gloves.
The Downpour Plus 2.0 jacket is available in many colours to suit all tastes. Whilst I would probably have chosen the Bracken colour if I had the choice; I ended up liking the Deep Ink much more than I initially expected – the colour of which can be seen best in the photos featured in this review. I opted for my regular size (Medium), but found the fit to be slightly roomier than normal. This slight extra room in the jacket is simply to accommodate a mid-layer, however, and I didn’t see any issues when wearing just a t-shirt with the jacket. The jacket was also able to cloak my Rab Cubit Stretch Down Hoody with ease, and kept the rain well way from the oh-so-precious down.
The Downpour Plus 2.0 trousers are only available in black, but I don’t see this as an issue considering you’re likely to be wearing them less frequently than the waterproof jacket. I also opted for my usual trouser size in these and found that there is ample room to fit them over normal trousers, whilst still retaining full mobility.
All in all, I would recommend The Rab Downpour Plus 2.0 Jacket and Trousers based on my personal experience. If you’re looking for an affordable and lightweight (only 375g and 345g respectively) set of waterproofs, these are hard to go wrong with.
If it helps, they’ve also been given the approval of my mum, who was very excited to try them out on a recent trip to Scotland!