These spring mornings tend to be cold and frosty, so you need some decent insulation to counter this. It’s just not cold enough to justify a full on duvet jacket and a simple fleece might not be warm enough. You need something in between.
The Microlite Jacket from RAB is more of a down cardigan than a jacket, and as such is ideal when you need a garment that provides unobtrusive insulation. While there are plenty of similar garments with synthetic fill, down packs just that bit more punch for it’s weight so for this sort of application it wins hands down where you’re mainly using it to keep warm during the idle time in camp during the evenings and mornings. It’s low bulk also makes it suitable for use as an outer layer according to the RAB site, though I’d be wary of wearing down under a pack when working hard as the sweat won’t do it any good. For the same reason, it’s not ideally suited as an extra layer in damp conditions, but for those quick dashes up Snowdon on a summer evening it’s ideal to don at the top to prevent cooling.
As it’s constructed from Pertex Microlite, and only 125g goose down, the weight is kept to an absolute minimum or more precisely – 370g (for a medium). It also lacks a hood, which cuts weight by 50g compared to it’s hooded sibling – the Microlight Alpine – but is significantly cheaper. I’m happy enough to take a fleece lined yak hair hat from Nepal that keeps my bonce nice and toasty, so this combination works for me. I also use it as the top insulation layer when I’m using my Alpkit PipeDream 200 half bag where admittedly a hooded top would be much better.
The fit on RAB hasn’t always suited me well, with their sizing in the past being rather snug for me. This top as an XL fits fine, though I’m borderline XL and Large so that puts it on the snug side for me. The cut of the body is short, but if you have long arms (I’m thinking orangutan here) then you’ll find the sleeves to be quite generous. They’re more than long enough for my needs, yet still fits perfectly with the added bonus that if your hands get cold you just need to withdraw them into the sleeves. Alternatively, you could just slip them into the generous side pockets for the same effect. These now have zips on them as well which is great for storing stuff around camp.
Finally, there’s a chest pocket on one side that is no only useful for valuables but doubles as a carrying bag. It’s a bit of a struggle to get it in there, but at least it packs down to almost nothing instead of taking up all the available space in your pack. Of course, it’s not good to keep down compressed for a long time so don’t store it that way if you still want the down to loft (and if it doesn’t loft, it won’t keep you as warm).
This isn’t the lightest down garment of it’s type on the market, the Crux Halo smock is significantly lighter at 230g with no pockets, less insulation and is more expensive. However with the RAB Microlight, you get a lightweight garment that’s useful most of the year round with a sensible balance between features, weight, price and warmth that also cuts it down the pub at the end of a hard day.
What the Manufacturer Says:
- Pertex® Microlight 30D outer shell
- 125g (L) of 750 fill power superior quality European goose down
- Mini stitch-through baffles stabilise position of down
- 2 YKK zipped hand warmer pockets and YKK zipped chest pocket
- YKK front zip with internal down filled baffle
- Lycra bound hem and cuffs
- Stuffs away into the chest pocket
- Short cut