Rab Nebula Pro Review
Cons: Not the lightest
Manufacturer: Rab Equipment
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Rab Nebula Pro
$229.95 at Amazon
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|Pros||Very warm, great features set, packs away easily||Light, easily stowable, very weather resistant||Warm, good water resistance, very comfortable, excellent mobility, stylish, durable||Very comfortable, great fit, breathable, impressively warm, great mobility||Wind resistant, excellent breathability|
|Cons||Not the lightest||Doesn't breathe, expensive||Expensive, annoying hem cinching buckles, not the lightest||Pricey, not as warm as thicker layers, doesn’t stuff into itself||Poor water resistance, minimal features|
|Bottom Line||With high loft, water-resistant insulation, this jacket is a great option for staying warm on cold, damp days, and doesn't break the bank||When it comes to features, this jacket has everything you need and nothing you don't||The top overall performer among the active insulating jackets||The ideal active insulated layer combines lightweight mobility and great breathability, yet still wards off the chill during cold weather||Breathable and lightweight, this jacket is the perfect companion for cold weather high-output activities|
|Rating Categories||Rab Nebula Pro||Arc'teryx Nuclei FL||Arc'teryx Proton LT...||Arc'teryx Atom LT H...||Rab Xenair Insulated|
|Weight and Compressibility (20%)|
|Weather Resistance (20%)|
|Specs||Rab Nebula Pro||Arc'teryx Nuclei FL||Arc'teryx Proton LT...||Arc'teryx Atom LT H...||Rab Xenair Insulated|
|Measured Weight (size)||22.9 oz (M)||11.5 oz (M)||13.2 oz (M)||13.20 oz (M)||11.8 oz (M)|
|Insulation||Cirrus HL||Coreloft (65g/m²)||Coreloft Compact 80||60 g/m2 Coreloft Compact w/ Stretch Fleece panels on sides||PrimaLoft Gold Active+|
|Outer Fabric||Pertex Quantum Pro (30D recycled nylon)||Arato (10D nylon ripstop)||Fortius Air 20||20D Nylon Tyono||Pertex Quantum Air|
|Stuffs Into Itself?||Includes stuff sack||Yes||Yes, clip loop||No||Yes|
|Number of Pockets||2 zippered hand, 1 zippered chest||2 zippered hand, 2 internal||2 insulated zippered hand, 1 zippered chest||2 zippered hand, 1 zippered internal chest||2 zippered hand, 1 zippered chest|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Hailing from the frosty moors and icy crags of Scotland, Rab knows a thing or two about recreating in "full" conditions, where you might encounter ice in all its forms, be it falling from the sky, blowing sideways, melting, or raining down in chunks — before you eventually make it back to the pub for warmth and safety. The Scottish climbing scene has a blue-collar feel due to its wild weather and colorful cast of characters that enjoy climbing there. The Rab Nebula Pro reflects this environment, as its design prioritizes warmth and weather resistance over weight savings, includes a handful of comfortable, useful features, and isn't too hard on your wallet. To top things off, Rab uses a ton of recycled materials — without sacrificing a smidge of quality.
The Nebula Pro is one of the warmest jackets in our review. Its big puffy baffles remind us of our favorite down jackets, but the Nebula Pro has some distinctive advantages over down models. For insulation, Rab uses Cirrus HL (approximately 250 grams of the stuff), a 100% recycled material that is down-like in its lofting qualities but heavier, water-resistant and cheaper; feathers won't go flying if you get a small tear.
Additionally, Stratus sheet insulation is used in the shoulders and cuffs. The result is a warm and durable cocoon you can retreat to when you're at belays or even just out for a stroll in the near-freezing drizzle. Full disclosure, the majority of the testing for this jacket occurred in an even drier than average winter in the Eastern Sierra. Our testers didn't battle through a miasma of spindrift, but we did bring it on some chilly multi-pitch climbs, a few ski tours, and to wear around camp. While we were reluctant to leave our giant down puffies at home, we never regretted bringing the Nebula Pro. While it's heavier than some of our favorite down models, it's just as warm.
Weight and Compressibility
This big ol' puff is heavier than most of the other models in our review, and it's also warmer. Our weight metric favor lighter models, but there are plenty of occasions when it's just too cold and "fast and light" becomes "light and dangerous", or more commonly, "light and miserable". In short, sometimes to have more fun, you'll need to carry a little more, and the Nebula Pro is easy to carry.
Rather than cramming it into a stash pocket, you can pack this jacket away into its reasonably-sized included stuff sack. This is a quick and easy process, and the sack includes a clip-in loop so it can ride on your climbing harness and be easily accessible at belays. We actually prefer a stuff sack that the jacket fits in, over stuffing it in a pocket that barely accommodates it — like some of the competition.
If you're the type that splurges on heated seats and never heads out to the crag without a thermos of hot soup and a stack of handwarmers, you'll love the Nebula Pro. This jacket is chock full of comfortable features. Starting with the heavily insulated hood, we like the rigid brim that directs precip out of the face. On the back of the hood, there is a rigid, vertically oriented strip that can be positioned with Velcro; this allows you to adjust how low the brim sits in front of the face. The hood also fits nicely over a helmet.
There is a super-soft lining on the front of the collar, so there's always something comfy against your face when the zipper is all the way up. That would be a two-way zipper, by the way, making belay loops, flys, and belt buckles easily accessible without any heat loss. Elastic cuffs allow you to put the coat on easily with your gloves already on, and Velcro tabs seal in the heat. Finally, two large handwarmer pockets can accommodate your big, mittened hands when it's time to hunker down for a while, and a zippered internal chest pocket can keep your bars and camera batteries nice and warm.
If you stick an inch and a half of high-lofting insulation, a 30 denier nylon shell, and a healthy slathering of DWR treatment between you and blowing snow, you're not going to feel the blowing snow. The Nebula thrives in this type of environment. To really test water resistance, we stood in the shower, let the water blast, and recorded what happened. After a few minutes, there was a noticeable amount of water coming in around the baffle seams. This didn't happen with some other models that don't have baffles or have wielded baffles. That being said, if we expect a downpour scenario, the Nebula isn't the type of jacket we'd pack.
When it comes to wind resistance, we didn't experience any points of weakness when ski touring and wearing this jacket on windy ridges.
We don't suggest putting on this jacket and going for a sprint, and neither does Rab. Breathability is not a priority for this highly insulative, weather-resistant jacket. There are no pit zips or vented mesh panels, and in this case, we don't miss them. This jacket isn't a "leave it on all day" model. It's for throwing on top of all your layers and trapping as much heat as possible when you'll be stationary for a while.
We've tested jackets that cost twice as much as the Nebula Pro that most definitely are not twice as good. Don't think that the Nebula's lower price point means lower quality, as we believe this jacket is as nice as anything from Patagonia or Arc'teryx. We also appreciate the amount of recycled materials. Its insulation is 100% recycled materials, and the shell fabric is 30% recycled, making it a better value for the planet.
The Nebula Pro isn't the most versatile model in our review, but it is an excellent performer for its intended purpose. So, if you're looking for something that's comfortable, packable, and above all warm — that will keep you outside and having fun longer — the Nebula is an obvious choice.
— Matt Bento
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