Rab Nexus Pull-On
The Rab Nexus Pull-On fleece jacket is a comfortable, light, and warm mid-layer that breathes well and has an adjustable deep chest zip. Minor complaints include some pilling after 18 months of use, and a little floppiness in the collar.
- Very light (9 oz)
- Easy to layer
- Breathes well
- 1/2 length zipper allows lots of venting
- Convenient chest pocket
- Slim/athletic fit not suited for all
- Wind gets through (like all fleece)
- No other pockets as midlayer (chest only)
- Some pilling/wear after 18 months of heavy use
- Not for folks who like hoods and full zips
Rab is not as prevalent in the U.S. but I found this in a large coop online shop when searching for a lighter mid-layer. Previous fleece options for me were too bulky to pack along with a puffy, but now I can take both on cold weather trips as the Rab Nexus Pull-on fits the light fleece mid-layer option I was searching for—hoodless and not a full zipper. If you want a hood or full zipper there are other Rab models that fit that bill.
Design, Construction, & Features
The Rab Nexus Pull-On is well designed and constructed (if that is the right word for clothing), and the company backs it up with a lifetime guarantee.
As with many warranties, its for the "usable lifetime of the product" which could mean a lot, but I guess otherwise they would go out of business replacing clothing thirty years down the road.
It is made of 94% polyester and 6% elastane. The stretch fleece has two sides to it with different textures. The outer smooth side has what Rab calls a "heathered" effect. Inside is an oval grid pattern to increase warmth and breathability, according to their literature.
The design is simple yet effective. One pocket, a deep chest zip, and stitching pattern that seems to allow a lot of flexibility. When I move and stretch the fleece doesn't seem to bunch up or feel uncomfortable. This side view shows the pattern of stitching under the arm.
The YKK Vislon deep venting chest zip opens almost halfway down the garment to allow maximum breathability on days when you need to make constant adjustments. The photo below is about 3/4 unzipped. I find this more than enough for me to vent without hassling with a full length zipper jacket.
There is one YKK zipped chest pocket that is perfectly sized for me. I keep a cell phone, notebook, or sometimes water filter and small fuel bottle in there to prevent freezing on winter trips. Photo below is with a notebook and in reverse mode—the pocket is actually on the left side.
Needless to say, this is a mid-layer fleece so no extra pockets, which would be inaccessible with a layer over it.
The Flatlock low-bulk seams appear well-stitched with no signs of threading or weakness.
There is some sign of pilling from abrasion after 18 months of heavy use, but nothing that has affected the performance of the fleece to date.
The double cuffs are just the right fit for me—not too loose but your watch can slide under them.
Fit & Comfort
The Rab Nexus Pull-On fleece fits me (6 ft/183 cm and 170 lb/77 kg) very well. It is an athletic fit that works on my frame. The length is about right for me since it extends down past my hip belt, but that will obviously vary based on torso length. I chose the Large size which matched my measurements in the Rab sizing guide, and am happy with that choice.
I have experienced no friction or tightness through 18 months of backpacking, hiking, and general wear (I am not a climber). The stretch fabric seems to work and makes it comfortable for all day wear on windy days without looseness or shifting under pack straps.
This fleece is very comfortable. The arms are a good length (see cuff above)—don't stick out beyond outer layer but not too short. The fit on the sleeve is loose enough that rolling up the sleeve on a variable afternoon rest is easy and not tight.
The collar is very comfortable although I rarely zip it up all the way due to being a heat generating machine even in mid-winter. I need the chimney open to vent!
It is not a stiff collar so flops well but may be affected by poor laundry/folding techniques as it can turn up a bit but that may be due to the layer under it in this case.
Even with a phone or other item in the chest pocket it was easy to get to.
Warmth & Breathability
Warmth and breathability are offsetting characteristics, so I have lumped them together. The stretch thermic fleece with its raised oval grid inner pattern seems to help breathing.
The double cuffs may not help in this area but I haven't noticed an issue. The Rab Nexus Pull-On breaths well and keeps me warm. Many days in Scotland I wore it almost morning to night as it helped keep warm in the 40s in the morning and breathed well into the 50s and even 60s (with some wind) in the afternoon.
It doesn't hold moisture and dries quickly in the sun. The Nexus Pull-On hits that delicate balance between my metabolism and weather—the long zip allows a lot of venting so I don't start sweating on cold morning hikes...
As with all fleece garments, it doesn't block the wind but if you are expecting a fleece to do that you might need to lower your expectations!
Use & Layering
The Rab Nexus Pull-On has limited adjustment—your only option is the deep chest zip, but that is more than enough for me. I tend to walk with it fully open or at least below my stabilizer strap most of the time except deeper winter.
Being so light and thin, it layers very well. I wear it in all seasons now from cool summer mornings thrown over a t-shirt...Cold spring and fall mornings and evenings to keep me warm in the sleeping bag while eating...
Of course as a good breathable layer on cool hikes
And a mid layer between base shirt and wind shirt on a snowy 30 degree day (it's there, you just can't see it).
It's so light at 9 ounces that it's a perfect mid-layer for me for almost four-season use and can be thrown on the pack behind me without even noticing on changeable days to keep it handy.
It packs down small enough (see below with a ubiquitous Nalgene bottle comparison) that I bring it on practically all my trips.
I highly recommend making the Rab Nexus Pull-On part of your layering system if you are looking for a lightweight fleece layer. The weight, breathability, warmth, and comfort of this fleece are excellent. Rab is a solid outdoor manufacturer that I hope makes more inroads into the US in the future.
I have used the Rab Nexus Pull-On for 18 months in all seasons including approximately 10 weekend 2-3 night hikes in temperatures ranging from around 10 deg F to 80 deg F. It was a commonly worn layer on my 200-mile walk across Scotland in May 2018. I would guess it has seen 30-40 nights out and about 500 miles of all sorts of weather, plus a lot of regular wear.
I have been using fleece as a layering option for as long as my aging brain can recall—at least the early '90s and I think the '80s as well. Most have been thicker/heavier so I was worried about this thinner mid-layer.
Besides backpacking and some day hiking, I wear the Rab Nexus Pull-On for many activities in colder weather as it hits the right balance for my metabolism and activities.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $95
A classic piece of cross-over kit.
- Very comfortable
- Warmth for low weight
- Good price
- Cuffs are perfect (no thumb loops!)
- Durability may prove an issue
I've got both the jacket and pull-on versions of the Nexus. Both of them tick lots of boxes for me.
I find that the cell structure of thermic fleece works well to retain body heat as effectively as bulkier heavier fleeces do, so you can travel lighter. The 6% elastine component of the Nexus is spot on. These garments are very comfortable to wear and the pull-on is easy to get on and off. Freedom of movement is assured (a lot more so than pull-ons with lower elasticity such as the Rab Geon).
Of course, being fleece you still need an outer layer for wind and rain protection. This is a mid layer. It doesn't do everything, but what it does do it does well (neither version has thumb loops, which pleases me as I detest the things).
I remain interested to see how durable the Nexus will be with a lot of wear. Will it pill badly? Will it lose its elasticity and become a sack? At the price, it hardly matters.
a lifetime of climbing and hill walking
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: AU $70
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