Words by Harry Bradbury
Introduction: You’d be right in thinking that the Rab Electron looks just like a number of Rab’s other insulated pieces; the baffled design, classic Rab logo and a neat, recognisable fit, however (to me) the Electron is a little different in its own unique way. Having owned the Electron for just over two months, I can firmly say that many of my other jackets will be left lurking at the back of my wardrobe or resigned to DIY duties.
Fit: This is where the first noticeable difference lies between your standard insulated jacket and even some of Rab’s own insulated pieces. The Electron boasts a fit that is far superior to any insulated jacket I have ever had the pleasure to try on. Insulated jackets are constantly appearing on the shop floor from a massive range of brands and price points, so fit is something that everyone at Trekitt is familiar with and consequently hugely fussy about. As soon as you put the Electron on you realise how much thought has gone into every minute detail. The cuffs are luxuriously soft and stretchy, ideal for creating a seal around your wrists (or gloves) in complete Velcro-less comfort. The sleeves are articulated, exceptionally comfortable and more than long enough for me (I’m 6’ 2”, slightly built and wear a size small). The lower half of the jacket features a hem drawcord, however, I haven’t had to use these yet as the lower baffles on the Electron do such a great job on their own. The slightly larger lower baffles feel snug yet unrestrictive, allowing you to move whilst trapping as much warm air inside as possible. Overall, you feel an all-encompassing sense of warmth and comfort, much like getting into a warm car after a cold and windy winter walk.
Hood: Rab has always produced great hoods. Trekitt’s Managing Director (the judge and harshest critic of hoods that are miss-shaped, baggy and useless) has always proclaimed that Rab’s hoods are rather good. The Electron’s hood hugs the sides of your head like a beanie, yet doesn’t feel intrusive or ‘weird’ in any way. Although snug, it features enough room for a climbing helmet and can be adjusted to stop the wind whistling in, which is particularly useful on a cold day when not wearing a helmet. The hood also moves with your head extremely well, so you don’t disappear into your little sanctuary of down when someone tries to talk to you. I used the Electron in 1°C temperatures with just a mid-weight baselayer underneath and the hood made a BIG difference to my overall warmth when static.
Fabrics: The selection of fabrics, like everything else on this jacket, are exceptionally well chosen. My first impression when slipping the Electron on was how easy it is to get into. The inner fabric is made from a tough, yet lightweight nylon which slides easily over baselayers and midlayers; whether they’re wool, polyester or nylon fabrics. I once owned a jacket whose inner fabric developed two wear holes on the lining fabric simply from abrasion against outdoor trousers; I’m confident that the Electron won’t be facing the same issue. The outer fabric is tough Pertex Endurance, which also slides nicely under shell jackets when layering up. It’s also highly wind resistant, not once have I felt the wind blow through, and it’s been just about everywhere under 1000 metres. Water resistance is a little bit of a sore subject when it comes to down jackets, however, Rab have you covered here too. The Pertex Endurance fabric provides high levels of water resistance without sacrificing breathability, weight or packability. Whilst it’s not completely 100% waterproof it will shrug off rain and snow, but if you want 100% protection from the elements, check out the Valiance Jacket by Rab.
Insulation: The most important part of any insulated jacket. I’ve never felt the need to wear anything but a baselayer underneath this jacket, it’s incredibly, forgetfully, brilliantly warm. You forget it’s cold outside, you forget the strong wind and the numbness in your hands; the people complaining about the cold around you simply become a faint whine in the distance (sorry, not sorry). The 800-fill power European Goose down is pretty much as good as it gets and is ethically sourced from birds which haven’t been live plucked or mistreated. What’s also unique is that the down is evenly spread out in baffles of variable sizes to fully optimise warmth and packability, completely eliminating cold spots to keep you toasty and warm. This superior down is also treated to a hydrophobic treatment that means it will retain more warmth when wet, will dry faster and will loft better than untreated down. I haven’t tested this yet, and won’t be rushing to dunk it in a puddle, however, if I do happen to get caught out I’ll appreciate the thought and effort that Rab has put in.
Pockets: This is a simple category but needs a mention. The two hand pockets are really, really warm. Rab has placed the insulation behind the pockets, meaning if you leave the zips undone you won’t notice any warmth difference, but somehow, they manage to your hands exceptionally warm. They’re also surprisingly deep, easily swallowing my hat, gloves, a dog lead and obviously hands. The entrance zips are placed fairly high to allow access whilst wearing a climbing harness or rucksack hip belt and they unzip from the top, so you can still access the contents. You also get one internal security pocket which is where my phone lives as it’s the safest and warmest pocket; the included stuff sack also fits nicely inside here.
Conclusion: If I were to recommend one winter down jacket for a wide range of winter activities from mountaineering to dog walking, the Electron would be my choice. Since owning it, two of my other (more expensive) jackets have become redundant as the Electron completely outperforms them. I generally only need to wear a warm baselayer underneath (in the UK, at least) and have remained comfortable in cool/cold conditions. The fit is spot on, the hood is pretty much perfect, the warmth is ideal for UK winters and I love the simplistic design.