Good insulation and high levels of breathability make great partners in the Rab Polartec Alpha Strata jacket.
As autumn and winter approach, active outdoors people will be reaching for an insulated jacket. Some favour down, while others prefer synthetic insulation. I like to choose between down and synthetic fill depending on the conditions.
Rabâ€™s latest collection of synthetic fill lightweight insulated Strata jackets, including a gilet, hoodie andÂ â€œflexâ€ jacket, are made with Polartec Alpha. There are lots of claims for Polartec Alpha insulation including:
- High levels of breathability
- Good moisture vapour transport
- Warm even when wet
- Packs small
The Strata range also sees the Polartec Alpha encased in a 20 denier Pertex Microlight outer fabric to offer wind and water resistance and also â€œallow through-flow of air to maximise breathability and comfortâ€.
Additional features of the jackets include:
- Hood that can be worn over or under helmet
- Synthetic lining
- 2 YKK zipped hand-warmer pockets
- YKK front zip chin guard
- 1 YKK zipped chest pocket, which doubles as integrated stuff sack.
Weight:Â Menâ€™s Hoodie (L): 430g; Womenâ€™s Hoodie (12): 380g
On test: Rab Strata Hoodie
I like down jackets for their warmth but in the wet they are generally hopeless. Once down is soaked it loses its ability to maintain warmth. There are a couple of brands that sell â€œwaterproof downâ€ jackets, which areÂ worth checking out. See the Berghaus Furnace Hydrodown jacket that IÂ reviewed.
However, if it looks wet outside and I need warmth I usually choose a jacket made with synthetic insulation. The top benefit is that when wet the insulation still offers a good level of warmth.
The Rab Strata Hoodie is a lovely design. Itâ€™s slim fitting so if you are a fit outdoorsy person this will please you. There is a good arm length although I would have liked a slightly longer torso in the womenâ€™s UK 10. I am a slim 5ft 8in so I like small-sized jackets to be a bit longer â€“ but that is a personal thing.
The jacket feels lightweight and non-bulky. It works well as a mid-layer jacket when an outer waterproof jacket is needed in heavy rain and also as an outer jacket when itâ€™s not raining.
The Pertex shell offers good wind protection and some water repellency although in most Scottish rain youâ€™ll require a good quality waterproof jacket over the top.
For the purposes of this review I did let the jacket become wet and thankfully it still kept me warm. Itâ€™s not pleasant to wear a soaked jacket but itâ€™s good to know it will still perform if you are caught out in difficult conditions.
Breathability is also good. I worked up a sweat during a couple of walks and did not feel any moisture on the inside of the jacket.
There are lighter and smaller insulated jackets, such as the Berghaus VapourLight, but the Rab Strata offers better warmth, which youâ€™ll be needing as the temperatures drop.
If you like a jacket that offers more freedom of movement, check out the Strata Flex with â€œPower Stretchâ€ side panels for high breathability and mobility. The colour choice is also great. The menâ€™s Rab Strata comes in Maya, Rust, Apple and Ink, while the womenâ€™s is created in Aubergine, Merlin and Jam.
The price range includes the Strata Hoodie at Â£150; Strata Flex Jacket at Â£140 and Strata Vest/gilet at Â£100. For stockists see rab.uk.com