So Autumn/Winter is almost here and will soon be upon us in full swing, and for the upcoming season; Rab have released a good few new products. One such product is the Rab Nebula jacket which uses 3M Cirrus insulation, and here is a little look into its first use while wild camping on the summit of Dollywagon Pike.
To begin with, here is what the official word on the Rab Nebula jacket from Rab’s website: “The Nebula Jacket is a quick drying, featherless synthetic insulated jacket, using Cirrus™ insulation by 3M, designed as a technical all-rounder perfect for climbing and winter walking. Cirrus™ is a new, breakthrough insulation which combines almost all the key benefits of natural down and synthetic fillings, whilst avoiding their limitations.”
So, as an alternative to down – it needs to be light and packable – and warm of course, alongside those attributes. With that, if we first look at the weight, the closest down jacket to the Rab Nebula is the Microlight Alpine. Weighing 580g for a large, the Nebula is only 150g heavier than the Microlight Alpine – and this may largely be down to the 750fp in the Microlight as Cirrus insulation has a warmth to weight equivalent to 6ooFP down. In real terms, it is genuinely light too. When packed away, it’s barely a noticeable ‘extra’ alongside the rest of a wild camping load and I would find it hard to believe that it would seem to tip the scales when in a day pack either.
In terms of warmth, the Rab Nebula did a great job at keeping the cold at bay when 2800ft up and running around the summit taking pictures and recording video. Such was the warmth of this jacket, for the time spent on the summit in is entirety; only a thin merino baselayer was needed under the Rab Nebula. Even when getting up at 6am, in order to take in the sunrise – there was no feeling that the usual, similarly sized, down jacket would have been preferable. Late the night before, I was also thoroughly comfortable when sitting outside of the tent looking up at the stars and at distant village lights. This jacket, and the Cirrus insulation make a great option for an insulated jacket in British spring/summer and even Autumn given its warmth and water resistancy for use when wild camping or indeed, an activity in which you would remain stationary for periods of time such as if you were belaying. Putting the Rab Nebula through its paces as the weather becomes more and more wet during the course of the autumn and as a midlayer during the winter months is high on the list of things to do.
Looking at the packability aspect of this down alternative, it is perhaps the only aspect thus far that I was slightly disappointed with. I must emphasise the word “slightly“, because it does still pack down small. It fit with ease in a small, 5L Exped drybag and could have gone smaller in a compression sack. There is always that trade off between synthetic and down insulation, though. From what 3M say about Cirrus, I understand that it is meant to mimic down in that it is a loose fill fibre instead of being continuously woven together – which does add to its packability against something like the Montane Primaloft insulated jackets in my experience. The Rab Nebula does pack into one of the handwarmer pockets to a respectable size, though I usually use a seperate dry bag instead.
Of course, with the fine weather that was enjoyed last time out in the Lakes from a precipitous point of view – the jury is still out on how well the Rab Nebula maintains insulative properties when wet, but as mentioned earlier in this article; a long hard Autumn/Winter awaits this jacket.
One thing that had suprised me, is the breathability of the Nebula. It doesnt appear to be a highlighted feature as such but I did find that when running around frantically on the summit of Dollywagon Pike in an attempt to capture photographs and video footage – I never felt clammy, or too warm. The same can be said for the time I spent inside the tent relaxing while wearing this jacket. Again, this will come to light in a more prominent fashion during the winter months when used as a midlayer if it is the case.
The jacket is well featured, something that we will go through in terms of what it means for useability after extended use. But, to run through the features quickly here; one of the best features is the cavernous hood. Definitely large enough to fit over a helmet, with good adjustment and stiffened peak. An internal chest pocket which seems plenty big enough for mobile phone or gps unit and other valuables. During colder weather, I tend to carry spare batteries in inner pockets and often put my gas canister for my stove in them for a little while before use to improve combustion. This inner pocket is certainly big enough for that. There are two handwarmer pockets also, that look as though they maybe border on a good height to avoid intrusion from a harness or hip belt. The hipbelt on my particular rucksack did not get in the way. Elasticated wrist cuffs and adjustable hem cords tie this jacket off well. The fit is described as regular, and there is certainly room underneath for more layers. A thick fleece or a couple of baselayers in colder weather would comfortably fit underneath.
The spec from Rab is as follows:
- Pertex Endurance outer
- 100% Nylon air permeable lining
- Cirrus powered by 3M featherless insulation
- Stitch through midi baffles
- Helmet compatible hood with flexible polymer peak
- YKK Vislon front zip with insulated baffle
- 2 YKK zipped hand warmer pockets, the left doubling as an integrated stuff sack
- Regular fit.
In all, this is an impressive new jacket from Rab, and Im certainly looking forward to using the Nebula throughout the rest of the year. If you have any questions about the jacket – feel free to join us on social media or use the contact page online.
You can view the Rab Nebula on the Rab website by clicking here.