Words by Harry Bradbury
Although the Nebula Pro may not have been something I would have picked prior to this testing, I’m glad I have it in my kit arsenal; it fills a much-needed gap which I hadn’t realised was missing!
What’s it made from?
Lots of things! The outer is made from the surprisingly durable Pertex Quantum Pro. Now, I say ‘surprisingly’ as it doesn’t feel particularly burly when you stick it on, however after catching it on a barbed wire fence and getting away with just a minor scratch (no tear), I was suitably impressed, even more so when the entire jacket weighs only a little more than a can of soup. Another nice feature is the fact that this outer fabric feels softer, quieter and more comfortable than previous versions of the Nebula, reassuring you that these fabrics are constantly improving. It also made sticking a shell over the top that much smoother.
When it comes to the stuff that keeps you warm (the insulation), much is unchanged… however, that isn’t a bad thing. Rab uses their brilliant Cirrus synthetic insulation to provide bucket loads of warmth when temperatures drop. This main feature of Cirrus over down is that it will remain largely unaffected when exposed to moisture, something I found incredibly useful on my recent trip to the Lake District (if it isn’t raining there, it’s about to!). Despite purposely exposing the Nebula to thick fog, rain and waterfall overspray, the Nebula stood its ground and kept insulating despite its soggy state.
What are my favourite features?
Weirdly, one of my favourite features is the pockets; I wouldn’t even call them pockets, I’d call them bottomless pits of cosiness and warmth. To give a little context, these pockets are huge, but in a good way. The pockets span from around two baffles below the Rab logo to the bottom of the hem, meaning gloves, hats, hands and a spare snack or two fits comfortably inside without getting in the way of my rucksack hipbelt. I wouldn’t usually carry many items in my pockets, but for experimental purposes, I had to see how much would fit inside. Other useful features include nice wide velcro cuffs that you can use with bulky gloves, a two-way zip (I’m not a climber so I didn’t use this, but I expect it would be useful when wearing a harness) and a fully adjustable hood which stays in place exceptionally well during strong winds.
How does it fit?
I’m 6ft 2”, have a 30” waist and am a slim build, so getting the length right without the jacket feeling overly voluminous tends to be a pain in the a*se. The Nebula in a Medium is more than long enough, with plenty of room in the shoulders and chest for layering, but not so baggy that it takes ages to warm up on particularly cold summits. Comparative to *most* other brands we stock, I’d say Rab’s Medium sizes up slightly large. I used the Nebula primarily as an over-layering piece, so I didn’t mind the extra room inside as typically it would be shoved over a thick baselayer, mid-weight gilet and a softshell. If I were to wear the Nebula without the multitude of layers and just the baselayer, it’d feel too baggy.
What could be improved?
It’s hard to think of what could be improved as what doesn’t work for me may work brilliantly for someone else. If I could, I’d opt for a ‘small and a half’ rather than the medium, however, if you’re a more average build at roughly the same height as me then the Nebula will probably fit you brilliantly. The only other minor niggle I had is that the pocket zips sit a little low; I found it hard to access them while wearing a pack as the hipbelt was in the way. Other than that, it’s an extremely well-thought out jacket; you’d have to try hard to find even a minor fault!
The Nebula is a brilliant insulation piece for those who require copious amounts of warmth without the fuss. It’s ideal for sticking over your other layers at a belay stop or while eating lunch, and the mixture of the tough outer fabric and hassle-free insulation means it’s truly a ‘fit and forget’ type jacket. If you’d like to purchase your own, click here.