Thursday, April 09, 2020

Outdoor Clothing Review - Rab Ladakh GTX Jacket

Rab Ladakh GTX Jacket
Rab Shadow Hoody

Back in late January, Rab very kindly sent me some outdoor clothing to test.

I wore the jacket and hoody throughout February and early

March in all kinds of weathers, including winter mountain walking in the Lake District, a backpacking trip, walking weekends in the Yorkshire Dales and on various navigation courses I was running. It also got put through its paces during storms Ciara, Dennis and Jorge (remember those?) and the wettest February on record! So, I was quite glad to have a new waterproof jacket!

Rab Ladakh GTX Jacket

This hard shell jacket is a robust Gore-Tex waterproof coat, cleverly designed to function properly in testing hill and mountain conditions.

Key features: 

  • Gore-Tex Pro materials, for maximum waterproofing and breathability
  • Helmet compatible hood, with 3-way adjustment system to ensure a snug fit
  • Long sleeves and knuckle protection to keep rain from running into gloves
  • YKK AquaGuard front zip, plus waterproof zips for the two hand pockets and chest map pocket.
  • Single-handed adjustable waist, hem and cuffs.
How did it function?:

I've been an outdoor professional since 1997, and I've gone through a lot of waterproof jackets in my time. This is, by far, the best waterproof jacket I've had. It's so good, I will continue to wear it on all of my walks and courses. Why? 

First and foremost, it kept me dry in some very wet weather. Internal condensation was kept to a minimum due to its breathability, and the Gore-Tex fabric kept the rain out. Also, the pockets did not fill with water like so many of my other jackets (note: expect pockets to get wet, so always secure delicate items such as a phone in a waterproof bag).

Secondly, it is a large cut. I wear an XL jacket and this jacket is large, which means you can layer up in poor weather and still have plenty of room for movement. It also does not ride up whilst wearing a rucksack, or when stretching as you cross a stile or scramble up rock steps. This means that in wet weather, your midriff stays dry as the jacket doesn't ride up towards your rucksack waist-belt. 

Thirdly, it has long sleeves. At first I thought this was a bit odd, however, I quickly realised the benefit of this when I was wearing gloves in the rain, as the long sleeves and knuckle protection helps stop rain running into your gloves. On wet and cold days, I always carry three pairs of gloves so I can can change them regularly (there's nothing worse than cold, wet hands whilst trying to use a map and compass), but this jacket meant I could keep my gloves on for longer without changing them so often. 

Fourthly, it works! The adjustable waist, hem and cuffs; the large front zip loop; the fully adjustable hood. They can all be adjusted with one hand, easily. It feels quite lightweight, but at 525g is similar weight to mountain jackets of other brands.

Fifthly, the hood. With its 3-way adjustment system (which means 3 drawstrings), this large volume hood fits easily over a helmet, but can be adjusted to fit snugly over your head. But the main advantage is when fully adjusted it keeps most of your face covered and out of strong wind and rain, with just your eyes showing, as the hood and front peak can be adjusted so it comes down over your forehead and eyebrows, whilst the high collar comes up above your nose. There is also a micro fleece strip over the collar zip to stop rubbing on your nose and mouth. 

My verdict:
An excellent waterproof jacket, ideal for the British hills and mountains that will keep you dry and comfortable. Its large cut means plenty of wiggle-room, so you might wish to try one on first for size.