The new Rab Alpha Direct Jacket (in male and female sizes) is claimed to be the brand’s “most versatile and breathable insulated jacket, offering the highest levels of freedom of movement and warmth in the lightest possible package”.
- Polartec Alpha “Direct” insulation
- Pertex Microlight outer
- Under helmet hood with Tricot lined collar
- Roll down anti-snag Velcro tab
- 2 way zip
- Large zipped chest pocket
- Zipped hand pockets
- Stretch fleece cuffs
- Hem drawcord
- Slim fit
- Price £180.
Benefits of Polartec Alpha insulation:
- Warmth without weight
- Fast drying
On test: Rab Alpha Direct Jacket
The jacket looks a bit different from other insulated jackets I’ve tried recently. The outer is similar in that it’s a Pertex fabric that is lightweight and durable. It is also moisture resistant and presumably has a DWR treatment.
It’s inside that looks different. The inner fabric looks like a lightweight gridded fleece. This, I think, it what is called Polartec Alpha.
There is no smooth inner fabric, like you find in many jackets, with the insulation sandwiched in the middle. The insulation is the fleecy Polartec Alpha.
The jacket feels so soft and lovely to wear. You could easily wear against bare skin, it’s that soft.
The fit of the jacket is slim and athletic. I have the UK10 and it’s a great fit for me. It’s not overly tight, nor too baggy. It has a really flattering shape.
The hood is neat enough to wear under a helmet (if you’re a climber) and also useful if you’re simply out walking or running in cold weather. The wire peak is a great bonus for offering a bit of light rain protection and there is a strip of fabric that hugs the forehead to keep out the wind.
The addition of a wide area of soft fabric around the chin when the hood is zipped up is a bonus. It just feels so snug and warm. These are really great details.
When not in use you can roll away the hood with a simple Velcro tab. I didn’t find the need to do this as I don’t mind the hood hanging at the back. When I tried it, the neck ended up feeling a bit chunky at the back of by head. I can see that climbers might want to rollaway the hood to stop it catching on rocks etc.
The two-way zip is useful, especially if you plan to climb with it and need access to your harness. It’s also a robust style and looks likely to stand the test of time and activity.
There are three pockets. The large zipped chest pocket can easily fit an iPhone 6 in a cover. The zipped hand pockets are roomy enough for my large hands and useful for bits and bobs.
I also like the stretchy cuffs although my arms are just a tad long for the thumb loops. The arm length is okay if my arms are straight but when I bend my arms the cuffs cut into the skin on my hands. However, for most women with normal length arms I think the sleeves would be perfect.
The jacket is so very easy to wear when doing faster-moving activities. It’s lightweight yet keeps out the wind and light rain. It also allows sweat and moisture to easily escape. It does this really well because there is no liner fabric. The sweat evaporates from the body and escapes through the gridded Polartec fleece. It’s really efficient.
You should expect the outer fabric to lose it’s DWR (unless you regularly re-treat) but, for me, the advantage of the Rab Alpha Direct Jacket is its weight-to-warmth ratio and excellent breathability.
In addition, the colour range of both the male and female jackets is lovely. I particularly like the purple that I was sent to try.
Some people might be put off by the price tag of £180. That does seem a lot to pay for a lightweight jacket but my partner and I have worn Rab jackets before and they do last a long time.