PHOTO: Maggie Kaiserman
PHOTO: Maggie Kaiserman

The Rab Microlight Puffy Stood Up to the Worst Storms of the Year

Made with hyrophobic down, the Rab Microlight is the solution to the coldest, harshest elements

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Price: $275

Materials: Pertex Microlight outer fabric
Nylon ripstop inner
750FP Hydrophobic European Goose Down

Features: - Baffle construction
- Down-filled helmet-compatible hood with polymer peak

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Rab bills their Microlight Alpine down puffy as a good layer for mountain climbers or as a jacket to wear for the day-to-day, to which I'd add, a puffy for your coldest days of skiing, an après essential for shady parking lots, a go-to for shoveling the driveway, a comfortable down layer to snuggle up with on the airplane and also use as a pillow.

True, I prefer a synthetic mid-layer for most of my ski days. I find synthetic to be better at regulating my body heat, especially when I'm sweating—down is notorious for absorbing moisture, so it's not the best layer for a bootpack. However, down still has a place in a skier's wardrobe as the most effective insulation on the planet. It's breathable, light, and keeps you warm—so long as it stays dry. But on that note, Rab gave the down in the Microlight a hydrophobic treatment to help the goose feathers become water resistant. Pertex Microlight outer fabric also adds to the breathability and windproofing of the jacket. Which is to say, the Microlight kept its loft and insulation abilities even in the wettest of Pineapple Express storms—like the one I drove through over Snoqualmie Pass in early February. The Microlight kept me protected from the wet winds whipping through the gas station. It was also a hand-saver—literally it kept my body warm and my blood circulation flowing to my fingers—when temperatures in British Columbia hit negative 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

The jacket weighs 360 grams (in the women’s version, it is also available for men) and packs down to a stuff sack about the size of a Nalgene, which makes it the lightest and most packable down jacket I’ve owned for how warm and how much loft it has. The down is stuffed into tight baffles that make it feel snug on the fit; I could wear it over a baselayer and a slim mid-layer, and under a shell. I packed it on every trip I took last winter, and didn't think twice about whether it would be worth the space in my suitcase.

One of my favorite features was the hood, which has a stiffer Polymer peak that helped it stay in place above my helmet. When I flipped up the hood, it felt like I was wrapped in a sleeping bag. Though I only brought the Rab Microlight out for skiing on the coldest days of my season, I was so happy I had it.