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Rab Vital Hoody - Women's Review

A blend of minimalist design and technical features, this jacket offers solid protection from the elements at a reasonable price
rab vital hoody for women wind breaker jacket review
Credit: Rab
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $85 List | $63.70 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  More waterproof, excellent wind protection, snap to allow unzipping during wear, superb hood, good hand pockets
Cons:  Doesn't pack into its own pocket, no reflective logos
Manufacturer:   Rab
By Maggie Nichols ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 19, 2022
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79
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 15
  • Wind Resistance - 30% 9.0
  • Breathability - 30% 7.0
  • Weight and Packability - 20% 7.5
  • Versatility - 10% 7.5
  • Water Resistance - 10% 8.5

Our Verdict

The Rab Vital offers solid performance and impressive protection against the elements for a reasonable price. This Best Buy award winner is a top scorer in both wind and water resistance. As a more technical windbreaker, it offers many features not found in other minimalist models, such as enhanced ventilation and a stiffened brim over a fitted hood. Continued updates to this jacket have only made it perform better in harsh weather conditions and during high output activities. Though it no longer stuffs into its own pocket and now lacks reflective logos, this low cost, high value item is still one of our favorites of the bunch.

Editor's Note: This review was updated on October 19, 2022, to reflect our updated testing of the new version of the Vital Hoody.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Best Buy Award Top Pick Award   Best Buy Award 
Price $63.70 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$109 List
$109.00 at REI
$90 List
$89.95 at REI
$80 List
Check Price at REI
$30 List
$27.99 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros More waterproof, excellent wind protection, snap to allow unzipping during wear, superb hood, good hand pocketsHelmet compatible, lightweight, extremely packable, dries quicklyHuge vents, large hand pockets, very breathable, water resistantUnique pocket system, bright and interesting colorsDecently wind resistant, moderate precipitation protection, lightweight, less expensive
Cons Doesn't pack into its own pocket, no reflective logosNot the most waterproof, can see through thin fabricLets in wind, doesn't pack into own pocketBaggy, less-than-incredible wind resistance and breathability, not adjustableSleeves a bit short, small pockets, sloppy construction
Bottom Line A blend of minimalist design and technical features, this jacket offers solid protection from the elements at a reasonable priceA true featherweight model that continues to impress, combining excellent performance with great valueA highly vented jacket with solid water protection that's easy to wearThis jacket's pros can be seen as cons and vice versa, making it a jacket for a person with a very specific styleA simple, casual jacket that's best for mild days and small budgets
Rating Categories Rab Vital Hoody - W... Patagonia Houdini -... REI Co-op Active Pu... Cotopaxi Teca Half-Zip SoTeer Waterproof H...
Wind Resistance (30%)
9.0
8.0
6.0
5.0
5.0
Breathability (30%)
7.0
7.0
8.0
4.0
4.0
Weight and Packability (20%)
7.5
9.5
6.0
8.0
6.0
Versatility (10%)
7.5
7.0
6.5
4.0
6.5
Water Resistance (10%)
8.5
6.5
7.5
7.5
5.0
Specs Rab Vital Hoody - W... Patagonia Houdini -... REI Co-op Active Pu... Cotopaxi Teca Half-Zip SoTeer Waterproof H...
Weight 4.1 oz 3.1 oz 6.1 oz 3.7 oz 6.6 oz
Material Atmos woven nylon with fluorocarbon-free DWR 100% nylon ripstop with DWR (durable water repellent) treatment Nylon with polyester mesh 100% repurposed polyester taffeta with DWR finish, with 600mm PU backer 95% polyester, 5% spandex
Pockets 2 hand 1 chest 2 hand 1 Kangaroo, 1 zippered pouch 2 hand
Hood Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Cuffs Half elastic Half elastic Half elastic Elastic Elastic
Stuffs Into Pocket No; stuff sack Yes No Yes No
Safety Reflective Material None Reflective logo on front and back Reflective logo, cuff stripes, and back vent stripe None None
Fit Regular fit Slim fit Relaxed fit Relaxed fit Relaxed fit

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Rab Vital is a full-zip, hooded windbreaker made of Atmos woven nylon treated with fluorocarbon-free DWR coating. It weighs 4.1 ounces while featuring a pair of zippered hand pockets, two inner open-top pockets, and a snap closure on the top of the main zipper for ventilation.

Performance Comparison


rab vital hoody for women wind breaker jacket review - there's much we love about the fit and functionality of the...
There's much we love about the fit and functionality of the lightweight, low cost Rab Vital Hoody.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Wind Resistance


The Vital is adorned with a lot of features that make it on of the most wind-resistant jackets we tested. Half elastic cuffs help keep your hands and wrists protected without stifling them in warmer weather. With a full-length internal storm flap behind the zipper, a single-sided drawcord on the hem, and a fitted elastic hood with a stiffened brim and rear Velcro adjustment, this jacket stands tough against the wind.


It is snug-fitting around the cuffs and hood, with an easily adjustable hem to keep the wind from chilling you on those extra breezy days. The Vital also has a longer torso than many other, hip-length jackets we tested, which means you can wear it long and loose, or cinched up out of the way. This makes it one of our favorite options for biking or breezy yard work, and even for wearing over thicker underlayers. We are solidly impressed with the wind resistance of this little jacket.

rab vital hoody for women wind breaker jacket review - the fitted, scuba hood has a stiffened brim and velcro adjustment on...
The fitted, scuba hood has a stiffened brim and velcro adjustment on the back.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Breathability


The updated Rab Vital is made of Atmos woven nylon, which helps it retain reasonable breathability while still standing up to those stiff fall breezes. To offer additional ventilation for high output activities, the Vital also has a short snap strap near the top of your chest. This lets you unzip it as far as you want — even all the way — without letting it fall back off your shoulders. Wearing this jacket on a chilly morning run during testing did result in a small amount of condensation inside the jacket. However, the snap closure and open zipper let that sweat quickly evaporate while on the move.


The newest version of the Vital features cuffs with a soft fabric elastic portion on the undersides. This makes them more comfortable to push up our arms than previous versions of this jacket. The cuffs are still much narrower than many other contenders though, making it still a little too easy to start restricting circulation when pushed up too tightly. In general though, the latest version of the Vital Hoody has more breathable fabric and good, useful features that make it a solid choice for high output activities in cooler weather.

rab vital hoody for women wind breaker jacket review - the vital's snap closure at the top of the chest allows for easy...
The Vital's snap closure at the top of the chest allows for easy ventilation by simply unzipping the jacket.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Weight and Packability


While previous versions of the Vital packed into their own pocket, this newest iteration instead comes with a small drawstring bag it fits inside. A reflective loop lets you easily clip it to your harness or the outside of your backpack. The new Vital has shaved off two tenths of an ounce in weight by eliminating both the zippered internal pocket and the chest pocket it used to pack into. While this brings it down to just 4.1 ounces — below average for this lineup of products — we're not convinced the minimal weight loss is worth losing two pockets and having to stuff it into a separate sack (instead of its own pocket).


But if you're going to have a separate bag to stuff your jacket into, this one is pretty great. It's small and compact but has a wide opening that makes it easy to cram the whole jacket inside and cinch closed the top. Both the carabiner loop and the logo on the bottom of the bag are reflective, helping you to more easily find it when things cool down at night.

rab vital hoody for women wind breaker jacket review - the vital packs easily into a separate bag (included), with a...
The Vital packs easily into a separate bag (included), with a carabiner clip, reflective components, and lower than average weight.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Versatility


The Vital features a longer than average torso, which provides coverage for activities requiring a more full range of motion. The active snap under the neck also allows you to unzip the jacket for additional breathability while the elastic hood helps keep the wind out when you need it. A single adjustability point cinches the back of the jacket without disfiguring the front hem. Two hand pockets are conveniently located slightly higher on the jacket, making it compatible with most hip belts and harnesses, and adding extra organization and hand-warming capacity. For everyday use, we appreciate the existence of hand pockets, where so many others cut them out to lower the weight of the jacket. They're also large enough to fit a smartphone — another big plus for heading to the store or walking the dog.


With updated versions, the Vital Hoody has a slimmer fit and comes in darker colors that are harder to see through, making it easier to justify wearing this jacket for casual use. We appreciate the utility of adding a brim to the elastic hood, though it might not be the most fashion-forward design. While previous versions of this jacket had reflective logos on the front and back, this latest version has just a single logo on the front that is not reflective. Bummer.

rab vital hoody for women wind breaker jacket review - the vital now has soft elastic on the bottoms of the cuffs, adding...
The Vital now has soft elastic on the bottoms of the cuffs, adding to their comfort both pulled down and pushed up our arms.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Water Resistance


While windbreakers are meant to protect you from the wind, a little water protection is always a bonus. We are impressed with how long the Vital withstands wet weather. Treated with environmentally (more) friendly fluorocarbon-free DWR coating, this jacket protects the wearer from water for longer than almost any other jacket we tested.


Beyond our regular lab testing and standard wear-in-the-rain procedure, we also put the Vital through the wringer on a bumpy, windy Caribbean boat ride through choppy waves and intense sea spray. While it didn't keep us dry, it did stop our tester's hair from getting wet, and her back was still mostly dry as well. In contrast, many other windbreakers we tested couldn't even keep us dry in an intermittent light sprinkle in a dry climate!

rab vital hoody for women wind breaker jacket review - the vital is one of the most water resistant models we tested - for...
The Vital is one of the most water resistant models we tested - for a windbreaker.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Should You Buy the Rab Vital?


When it comes to what you pay vs. what you get, the Vital proves itself a high value contender. Despite costing less than most of its competition, this jacket offers both technical functionality and comfortable versatility. It's a great choice for most uses we can think of, even before considering its low cost.

What Other Windbreakers Should You Consider?


The Vital is a lightweight, packable windbreaker that is exceptionally wind resistant and surprisingly water-resistant. It comes with a bunch of technical features that make it convenient without sacrificing too much for weight. While it's less breathable than some, we don't think it's unduly stifling, and we were happy to wear it for colder running days, breezy dog walks, and chilly mountain biking mornings. If you want something more breathable without having to unzip, and don't mind paying a little more for it, check out the Patagonia Houdini Air.

rab vital hoody for women wind breaker jacket review - we love the technical and comfortable features of the vital - and...
We love the technical and comfortable features of the Vital - and its lower price tag!
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Maggie Nichols
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