Thursday, February 23, 2012

Rab Neutrino Endurance Down Jacket Review

On the NW Couloir Route of the Middle Teton in late October 2010.  About 20 degrees F and 45mph wind here.  Phil let me borrow his Rab Neutrino because I didn't have one yet.

About 4 years ago, I went on a backcountry skiing trip with Phil in the Uinta Mountains of Utah.  We drove in as close as we could to the trailhead early in the morning; put our boots, skis, and packs on; and started the 12 miles skin in toward King's peak.  A couple weeks earlier I had just returned from living in The Netherlands and Belgium for a couple years. While there I didn't have the chance to climb, hike, ski, etc., so I wasn't in very good shape; not to mention I had been living at or below sea level that whole time.  Needless to say, the skin into King's Peak just about killed me.  Phil has always been an extremely strong hiker so he didn't seem to struggle much.

Anyway, we got into camp, pulled out our down jackets, and started getting ready for dinner and bed.  I pulled out my Mountain Hardwear Subzero SL Jacket.  I thought this jacket was sweet (it is a good jacket, despite its weight).  It was super warm, packed down relatively small, and had all the features I thought I wanted in a down jacket.

Phil then pulled out his down jacket.  It was the Rab Neutrino Endurance Jacket.  It was beautiful!  It packed down about half the size of the MHW.  When I picked it up it felt about half the weight of the subzero.  I drooled over that jacket for a few years until I finally got one of my own.  It hasn't changed much over the last four years, but even now I consider it to be one of the best medium-weight down jackets on the market and an incredible jacket for mountaineering and alpine climbing.

The Features

  • 225g fill weight of 800 fill-power European Goose Down  
  • 30 denier shell with Pertex-Endurance water-resistant coating. 
  • 20 denier Pertex Quantum Liner
  • Total weight: 22oz
  • sewn-through construction
  • two handwarmer pockets
  • one interior zip pocket
  • Helmet-compatible hood with wire brim
  • Hem drawcord and adjustable cuffs
  • Relaxed fit.  I generally wear a size large in other jackets and this jacket in a large is ideal to fit over other layers as a belay jacket.
  • Waterproof zippers
  • $325 Retail

The hood fits nicely over helmet.  When cinched around the helmet, the jacket pulls up to about the nose, protecting nicely from wind, snow, and cold.
I'm about 6'2", 185lbs.  This is a size Large.  Just about right for fitting over other layers as a belay jacket.

Jacket compresses to about 2/3 the size of stuff sack.

A note on Pertex Endurance:  Pertex Endurance has a 1000mm water column rating, which means it's pretty darn water-resistant, but not waterproof.  Waterproof ratings are 10,000mm water column or more.  Endurance is an ultralight, thin membrane.  The fabric is quite breathable. 

Fabric detail.  20d quantum in gray, 30d endurance shell fabric in blue. 

A note on Pertex Quantum:  Pertex teamed up with Rab to make Quantum GL which is an extremely light, 10 denier fabric that is quite durable for its weight.  The original Quantum is 20 denier and has a higher strength-to-weight ratio than Quantum GL, but is 20% heavier. 

The Jacket

I love this jacket, but I can find reasons to complain about anything. 

Phil's Neutrino, now 4 years old.  Still in great shape and he has used it a lot.

Some things of note on this jacket are its high warmth-to-weight ratio.  For 22oz, it is one of the warmer jackets on the market (compared to other jackets of similar weights).  It rivals other 30oz jackets in warmth.  One reason for this is that the fabrics, especially the liner, are very light which allows the down to loft really well.  Heavier fabrics impede the loft of the down.  Rab makes a baffled version that is 21oz according to the Fall/Winter 2012 catalogue, and has a higher fill weight (by 50 grams).  According to the website, it is 27oz, not 21.  It is also almost $100 more than the sewn-through version.  Not sure if the weights are accurate or a typo, but it seems weird that a baffled jacket with higher fill weight is the same weight as the sewn through with the same fabric.  My guess is a typo.

This jacket has a 2-way zipper (it unzips from the bottom and top).  This. of course, is great for belaying.  I do wish there was also a snap at the bottom of the zipper to keep the jacket from blowing around when its unzipped at the bottom.  Arc'teryx does this on the Dually Belay, but few other companies do on their belay jackets.  It's a little thing, but it would be a nice addition.

The jacket has two big handwarmer pockets.  The pockets themselves are not massive, but the openings are.  It's nice when trying to get gloved hands in the pockets, but I find the openings are so big that cold air gets in and the handwarmer pockets aren't that warm anymore.  Again, a little thing.  I really only noticed this while sitting in camp or walking around town without gloves on.  Hardly worth complaining about.

Pocket opening big enough to fit two 1-liter nalgene bottles, the pocket itself is large enough for about 1 1/2 1-liter nalgenes

The hood is great.  I don't have any gripes about the hood.  It is big enough to fit over a helmet, not too big that it doesn't fit well without a helmet.  It has a velcro flap in the back for taking volume out of the hood if necessary.  It cinches up nicely around the face with and without a helmet and the pull cords don't hit you in the face in high winds.  They're also easy to use with gloves or mitts on.  Rab also sewed in a velcro flap so that you can roll the hood and velcro it down.  Some people like this, apparently.  I think it's a waste of weight and material.  Just roll the hood up and tuck it behind your head.

Hood details.  Notice pull-cord tubes keep cords from whipping you in the face in high winds.  Easy to use with gloves 

Velcro tab in back of hood takes out volume if necessary

Hood strap for rolling away hood.  I agree, it's unnecessary.

The jacket is pretty long.  Again, I'm 6'2" and my large neutrino comes down to the bottom of the rear (see picture above).  From the base of the hood to the bottom of the hem on the back is about 29" long.  This additional length makes for a warmer jacket than, for example, the Rab Infinity.  The Infinity has a similar fill weight and similar loft, but it isn't as warm because it's a shorter cut.  The infinity is also 6oz lighter.  The infinity is not a lesser jacket, just designed for lighter, faster trips.

Because this jacket is sewn through, it is more susceptible to cold spots and slight wind penetration.  To combat this, Rab has sewn in an additional layer of quantum fabric along the front of the jacket, but not the back

This jacket also has one interior zip pocket.  This is nice for items that need to be close to the body to stay warm.  It is big enough to stick a nalgene about 2/3 in.  This jacket does not have a mesh stash pocket for holding a water bottle or drying wet gloves.  I know down jackets aren't the best for drying layers in, but I wouldn't mind an additional pocket (mesh) for a water bottle.  I think it's worth the weight.  Get rid of the hood strap and add a mesh pocket.  Voila!  No added weight, only added function.

Internal zip pocket, additional layer of quantum fabric on front of jacket for wind-resistance but not on back

Easy-to-use velcro cuffs, hem drawcord, and waterproof zips round out the features.


Though I haven't been super kind in my explanation of the features, I must say, any complaints I have against this jacket are extremely minor.  I love this jacket!  Each time I put it on I get chills (figure of speech, of course).  It really is an incredible jacket.  If I have one complaint it is about down jackets in general, not this one specifically.  They don't work well when wet.  We all know this.  Sometimes down is better, sometimes synthetic.  For example, even though the shell of this jacket is quite weather-resistant, while on Rainier last year, it was so humid that water was soaking into the down and getting it wet via the thread where it's stitched (on Phil's 4-year-old jacket).  Not a big deal because we were headed down that day, but over multiple days of climbing in wet weather it would have been.  Synthetic would be better for that situation.  But down is great for Utah.

To sum it up, I give this 4.86 (rounded up is 5) out of 5 stars.  It really is a great jacket and any of my complaints earlier are minor.  I am thinking about cutting off the hood strap thingy though.

Pictures of the Women's Rab Neutrino:

Kelsey is 5'8", 135lbs.  Athletically built.  Torso length is 18".


  1. Great Review, very thorough. I also really appreciate that you model the garment and tell us your height/weight. That's so important given how much size varies between brands. (My XL 66north PL puffy fits comfortably beneath my Medium OR PL puffy.)
    Great Blog, thanks, and keep up the good work. Just bought a NWAlpine hoody based, in part on your layering treatise.

  2. I'm glad this is helpful. Thanks for reading and for the comment.

  3. Nice Review! I found you on I was wondering what size jacket your wife is wearing? and she is NOT wearing the endurance plus correct? Just the endurance?

  4. Correct, she is wearing the Endurance, not the Plus. Her jacket is a medium.

  5. Thanks for the review. Just what I was looking for to help me decide whether this jacket is the best one for me.


  6. Glad I could help. Thanks for reading.

  7. Hi, thanks for the review, can you please share if you get easily sweated while on move and also if you wear a backpack regularly with this jacket. I am deciding for this one, however would only use it in city temperatures (ranging about +5'C to -10'C) and with backpack. Don't you think i could get sweat easily in such temperatures and also, about the backpack - wouldn't it cause traces around the jacket (shoulders, back etc) caused by backpack wear - mainly to work, not that heavy, about 5 kilos.

    Many thanks,


  8. Hi Dude,
    I really enjoy reading your blog and I also read Coldthistles blog.
    I wonder if you can help me.
    I need a super warm jacket that can be worn around a high altitude ski resort day and night which will keep me warm when I'm not creating much heat by moving about.
    I'm a skiing instructor and won't be using the jacket for skiing.
    I need it to work with layering or a t-shirt.
    I am looking at either the Neutrino Plus or Jannu.
    Also any idea on sizing. I'm 5'11" 75kg, 102cm chest, 81cm waist. Athletic build. My body fat is very low and I suffer from the cold terribly!
    Thanks in advance for any advice.
    Mark Phillips

    1. Hi Mark, thanks for reading.

      I'm not sure how cold it is where you are, so it's hard (impossible really) for me to guess which jacket might be the better fit for your circumstances, but I'll try anyway. The Neutrino Plus and the Jannu are great options, though the Jannu is a really big, extremely warm jacket. There is a lot more insulation in the Jannu (400g of 750 fill power goose down compared to 275g of 800 fp goose down). Part of that is because it is a slightly longer jacket than the Neutrino Plus. The other part is that it is simply a warmer jacket. Much warmer, I'd guess, though I've only seen the Jannu, never actually used it. I would guess that this is probably more jacket than you'll need.

      The Neutrino Plus, though lighter, is still a very warm jacket. It is fully baffled, not sewn through like the Neutrino Endurance (I'm sure you already know this), and is super warm. I'd confidently say it would keep me warm to 0F/-18C (probably warmer) while sitting around with only a long sleeve baselayer on underneath. If used as an active layer, you could go much colder. Now you must understand that I don't have the same body fat problem as you do. I have the opposite problem. While you don't have any body fat, I'm fighting to keep mine from getting too high. So, at about 15% body fat, I don't get cold nearly as easily as my bro-in-law who is about 5% body fat. When others are getting a little chilled, I'm usually just fine.

      I think the Neutrino Plus is the better jacket for most people because it isn't quite so big and bulky but is still plenty warm.

      So, if it were me, I would suggest the Neutrino Plus if the weather that you are in is about -10F/-23C or warmer, and the Jannu if the weather regularly gets colder than -10F/-23C.
      Also, I would guess that a size Medium in either of these jackets would allow you plenty of room to layer, but also not be too big when only wearing over a t-shirt.

      Sorry for the long answer to a simple question.

  9. Any sizing advice on this jacket if you are in between sizes? I'm only 5'6" 145ish pounds, but my chest is 38+ (small spec'd for 37, medium for 40 chest). I have tried a small and felt a little constricted when moving my arms in certain positions. Do you know your chest measurement and how it feels with your jacket size?

  10. On a down jacket, I like the jacket to fit over another layer or two without restriction, mainly because I prefer it to fit well and work well as a belay jacket, and am less concerned with proper fit for wearing around town over a t-shirt. In this case, if it were me, I would go with the larger size. My chest size is about 42 inches and my jacket is a size large. According to Rab's sizing chart, a large fits a 43 chest. It is the right size for me to layer over a couple layers, though it does get a little tight if it's more than just a couple layers.

  11. Sounds good. Thank you. I think I'm staying with the medium, after trying them both on with different layers today. The small looks good but just won't work with layers, as you said.

  12. Hello,

    I'm sitting here and have to decide between a Rab Neutrino Endurance and a North Face Himalayan Parka (I can get both for the same price) for Pik Lenin (7000m+) this summer. The North Face is really warm and bulky but I'm not sure if I really need such a big jacket. How do you think about it?

  13. I'd suggest something baffled. The Neutrino Endurance is NOT baffled. The Neutrino PLUS is baffled. If you are in pretty good shape and move quickly at altitude, you can probably get away with the Neutrino Plus without a problem. But, if you plan to spend a decent amount of time at altitude, a bigger, warmer jacket like the Himalayan parka may be worth it. If it were me for my style of climbing, I would get the Neutrino Plus. That would save you over 400g of weight and I think it would be warm enough. Denali, for example, is one of the coldest mountains in the world, and my jacket of choice for that mountain, out of the jackets listed, would be the Neutrino Plus.

    Hope this helps. Thanks for reading.