Rab Continuum Down Jacket Review

Rab Continuum Down Jacket Review

You don’t see too many people wearing Rab gear in the US, but every now and then I’ll meet someone who has traveled the UK and, when they see the iconic Rab waves, they always remark on how great their gear is.  The Brits definitely have something right here and the Rab Continuum puffy is a high performance stallion of a jacket.

Rab Continuum Down Jacket Features

  • 110g 850 fill power Hydrophobic European goose down (Large)
  • Mini stitch-through baffle construction
  • YKK front zip with internal insulated storm baffle and chin guard
  • 2 YKK zipped handwarmer pockets
  • Left pocket doubles as integrated stuff sack
  • Elasticated cuffs
  • Hem drawcord
  • Fit: slim
  • MSRP: $280

Continuum (3 of 3)

Aston Martin Meets Puffy Coat

What does Aston Martin and Rab Carrington have in common?  They’re both from the UK and they both make spanking good stuff.  I don’t know enough about sportscars to review an Aston, sadly, but I can definitely give the lowdown on this very technical, rather uncompromising down jacket from Rab.

The Continuum weighs in at a scant 10.7oz (for a Medium) on my test scale and features the one-two punch combo of 10D nylon and 850-fill premium hydrophobic goose down.  Any jacket with this kind of specs is naturally going to be judged against the current reigning lightweight down jacket, the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer: at just 7oz, the Ghost Whisperer still kicks the Continuum’s can on the weight scale, but it has to be said that Rab’s offering has a more luxurious, refined feel.

Part of what makes the Continuum special is Pertex’s Quantum GL fabric.  Continuing their very productive partnership with Pertex, Rab’s Continuum offers a fabric that is light and has a delightfully smooth handle.  It’s a 10D weave (compare that with Mountain Hardwear’s 7D weave) that is exceptionally soft to the touch: apparently this softness comes at scant cost to durability as I’ve let rocks and twigs have their chance at shredding the nylon to no avail.

The Continuum’s other big attention-grabber is its 850-fill hydrophobic goose down.  True to form, the techy down stays lofty and dries quickly, but water still has an easy time seeping through the seams.  Rab tried to combat this by spraying on a remarkably powerful DWR, but high-wear areas like the inside of elbows will be holding onto a moist warmth in the rain.

The 10D nylon is translucent in the sun

The 10D nylon is translucent in the sun

Rab Carrington’s company is showing their mountain know-how in lots of little things in the Continuum.  The baffle design is particularly thoughtful: rather than full-length horizontal baffles on the sleeves, there are four pockets of down to keep insulation firmly in place.  This attention to detail is repeated throughout the jacket as underarm baffles still allow down to move out of the way and, crucially, facilitate movement – for a down jacket, I was impressed with how well the Continuum moves with a climber.   A hung liner on the front of the jacket adds a bit of warmth, but this jacket isn’t quite warm enough for sedentary pursuits.  The drawcord hem is perfect for a slim fit (think technical here) and the elasticized cuffs help the sleeves stay in place within a layering system.  There’s even a touch of fleece on the chin for some comfort in the mountains.  I especially appreciate the insulated baffle on the main zip, not to mention the fact that the Continuum stows into its own pocket.

In practice, the Continuum shows itself to be a worthy, if light, down jacket.  The 850-fill hydrophobic goose down is as fluffy as you could possibly wish and the piece does exceptionally well underneath a wind-breaking layer; I say that because, in truth, the wind cuts right through the 10D fabric despite Pertex’s claims.  However, the jacket as a whole does very well in challenging aerobic conditions due to the refined insulation and ultralight fabric weave – in short, it’s a technical down jacket.  Don’t buy it if you’re just going to wear it around town.

Testing hydrophobic down by laying down on some wet ice.  We get bored sometimes.

Testing hydrophobic down by laying down on some wet ice. We get bored sometimes.

The Good

  • Techy, techy techy – built to perform, and it does that well
  • 850-fill hydrophobic down is as sweet as could be
  • Baffle design keeps down where it needs to be, lets it shift away from hot areas
  • Folds into its own pocket, Pertex Quantum GL is extremely packable

The Bad

  • At almost 11oz, there are several lighter options at comparable prices
  • Wind cuts through the fabric too easily
  • Thumbholes would be a nice touch

The Bottom Line

Ladies and gents, we have here a highly refined down jacket designed to meet, as Rab Carrington would say, the world’s most challenging conditions.  As a light puffy it’s not particularly warm nor windproof nor waterproof, so it’s not for someone who just wants to pick up a jacket to wear around town.  However, in the mountains paired with a technical shell like the Rab Myriad, the Continuum shows its true mountain roots and really begins to shine.  Overall, a fantastic down jacket for those who need premier performance.

Buy now: Available at Backcountry.com

 

Written By

Kevin Glover is an outdoorsman living, climbing and biking in Spokane, WA. Originally from the Nevada high desert, he moved to the PNW for its mild winters and allergen-free summers. He has guided throughout the Cascades and Enchantments for Peak 7 Adventures.