Rab Strata Hoodie
My new favorite belay jacket. Warm, breathable, water resistant, VERY light!
- Weight is comparable to down
- Water repellant (DWR)
- Very wind resistant
- Hood fits over a helmet
- Zipper pull is on the wrong side
I received this jacket as a sample to review for Trailspace Review Corps.
Notice the awesome Trailspace hat.
The summit of Rainier
As a mid layer on the summit of Mt. Hood
The Rab Strata Hoodie jacket is intended to be an insulating, wind resistant synthetic jacket which increases breathability over other options. The stretchy shell and synthetic insulation are supposed to do a better job of keeping you warm and dry than down or other similar insulation. In this regard I think the Strata is a success.
Detail of the fabric/logo
When I received the Strata the first thing I noticed was the weight. The Rab Strata Hoodie at 14 ounces is just two ounces heavier than my down sweater and also sports a hood, which my down sweater does not. This is a featherweight.
The size Large fit my long-ish arms, 21" torso and 46" chest, though slightly snug in the chest. In some jackets I wear an XL, in others a Large. A snug jacket keeps warmth closer to the body.
Movement is not restricted however since the shell stretches slightly and the sleeves are plenty long for my wingspan which is 74". Even with my arms extended the cuffs reach my wrists nicely. The hood fits perfectly and, almost magically, also accommodates my climbing helmet under its cover, something I did not expect. The hood is cinched by elastic and has no draw cord to snug it tighter. The hand-warmer pockets are adequate and the huge chest pocket doubles as a stuff-sack for the jacket.
Something else I liked was that the chest pocket and the main zipper have different types of zipper pulls. This way, when I grab one to open it, I know by feel which one it is. Someone at Rab was thinking! The bottom hem has a simple elastic drawcord, but I didn’t find it necessary.
One funny thing I noticed was that the zipper slider was on the opposite side from what they usually are on men’s jackets in the US. Perhaps, since they drive on the opposite side of the road in the UK (Rab is from the UK) their zippers do the same.
With the camera's flash on you can see all the water this thing sheds.
Since I live in a semi-arid area I am not the guy to send things to for proving their waterproofness. Saying that I did wear it on a hike with a 40 degree (Fahrenheit) drizzle and several good bursts of showers. While hiking at a decent pace on the trail in the rain the DWR finish on the Strata Hoodie kept my upper body completely dry.
I wore a simple polyester T-shirt underneath and, even standing still on several occasions, I never got cold or wet. The shell material shed the rain and allowed my sweat (I sweat a lot) to evaporate better than I expected. This jacket is not designed as rain gear and it will, I am sure, wet through eventually after wear or when water is pushed through by pack straps and such. In this case though the synthetic insulation will definitely outperform a down sweater once wet.
I managed one ski trip with the Strata before the end of the season and though I didn’t take pictures, I did have a nice crash. I ran into a nice bunch of small trees and I was impressed that the gossamer-light shell of the Strata Hoodie wasn’t shredded. It was in the upper 30s that afternoon and I stayed warm during breaks even though I had sweat a lot.
I liked the darker color of the jacket they sent me. Bright colors have their place, but I am a more subdued color guy myself. Brighter colors also need to be washed more.
Packed into its own chest pocket.
The Rab Strata Hoodie is now my favorite belay jacket. It is as warm as a down sweater without the issues from moisture. In the constant cold wind the Strata does its job.
The day of the pic below temps were in the almost-too-cold to climb range. I never feel wind penetrate this jacket even though it breathes really well. On the hike to the crag, which requires some scrambling and squeezing in-between cracks, I don’t get any noticeable sweat buildup and the shell weathers scrapes without a snag. The long, stretchy sleeves are never restricting as I clamber up and over ledges to get to the wall.
A chilly afternoon
On Granite Mountain in driving drizzle, warm, dry and toasty
At Camp Muir, 10,000 ft. (Mt. Rainier), 30-ish degrees, 10mph wind
I know it’s not a rain coat, but this jacket has the best DWR finish I have seen yet. The best part is that, even when it’s wet, it still retains a lot of insulating value.
Water beaded up
My wife says I have too many jackets. The Strata might allow me to pass a couple on to the next happy user. It fills the place of a down sweater and a soft shell jacket pretty well.
I heard a rumor about what this jacket will retail for when it debuts this Fall. The number I saw should put it near to the price of a good down sweater. Given the choice, I’d choose the Strata Hoodie in a heartbeat.
Update 8/2014: It developed a tear and Rab repaired it for free. After a couple years of hard use it is showing some snags. It's not town-worthy anymore, but very mountain-worthy.
Update 1/21/15: Still warm and holding together but the DWR is gone almost completely :(
Source: received for testing via the Trailspace Review Corps
(Sample provided by Rab for testing and review)
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