Rab Nebula Pro Jacket Review
So you might be wondering why i'm reviewing another jacket after being so happy with the Rab Nimbus jacket I reviewed not that long ago, well me as well to be fair !
So essentially the situation is that I have lost a decent amount of weight so my Rab Nimbus Jacket was now a little too large for me and I was all set to replace it with exactly the same jacket but with a smaller size but I thought I would look at what else there was in the range to see if it could possibly be something even better out there, enter the Rab Nebula Pro jacket !
So as you know I raved about the Rab Nimbus jacket and could only really find fault with a couple of bits on it, these bits have been addressed on the Rab Nebula Pro jacket so I was instantly interested.
Let me explain my criteria and the reason for buying this one.
So I really wanted a down jacket but I flat refuse to buy one due to the horrible process of removing down from birds, its just not something I agree with or could ever support so essentially it meant that down jackets were out, no matter how good the benefits were on them it just wasn't enough to be able to support such a torturous process I'm afraid.
So when Rab announced they had a new synthetic down system available in the form of Cirrus HM I was very interested !
Essentially synthetic down offers all the benefits of regular down without the pain to birds, and some more benefits as well.
Washing a down jacket is frankly a bit of a nightmare, it all clumps together and unless you dry it in a very specific way it doesn't loft nicely again leaving you with cold spots on the jacket as well as looking a bit rubbish too, Also the same problem if you are caught out in the rain.
In fact I was told in store by one of the sales people at Go Outdoors that they don't recommend ever washing a down jacket full stop, not very practical for a product that is designed for not only outdoor use, but will also have perspiration going through it, sorry Go Outdoors but not washing a product is out of the question and frankly poor advice.
Synthetic down is different though, its not feathers for a start and is in a sheet so it offers and instant advantage of having no cold spots on the jacket and can be easily washed and dried in an everyday fashion so already a major plus point was scored over the down alternative.
The synthetic down is known as Cirrus HL and features on a range of the Rab jackets including the Nebula Pro, and another benefit it offers over the traditional down jacket is that because its not feathers it is able to handle wet weather far better than down due to the fibres used rather than being feathers, whilst still maintaining the excellent warmth to weight ratio we are used to on down jackets.
On top of all of this the Cirrus HL synthetic down on the Rab Nebula Pro jacket is actually 10% warmer than the standard Cirrus used on the Nimbus jacket plus the Cirrus HL synthetic down is recycled material so this is an eco friendly jacket too ! Win Win. (The outer Pertex layer is also recycled)
The Rab Nebula Pro uses midi size baffles which are larger than that on the Nimbus and the equivalent down jackets such as the best selling Alpine Microlight so it feels like there is more air trapping potential in there and more insulation, Plus I really like the look of it with the larger baffles.
At the time of writing the jacket comes in at a very reasonable £180, which for an ultra warm packable lightweight jacket is frankly a fairly cheap price to be fair.
It comes in both Men & Ladies cuts that are shaped around the change in body shape so a great fit is achieved rather than a unisex jacket, plus they ladies versions come in different colour schemes to the mens so if you're a couple you don't have to match !
When you compare what you are getting against the next model down at £160 in the shape of the Cirrus Alpine, it really does make the Nebula Pro the better buy by a long way.
The Nebula Pro jacket comes in at a super lightweight of 648 grams or 22.9 ounces which means you essentially feel like you are wearing warm air and it takes up no space in a rucksack, of which it comes with its own stuff sack or can be zipped up inside the left hand pocket as well so a nicely compact easy to carry jacket.
The cut of the Nebula Pro is far more fitted and contoured than the likes of the Nimbus Jacket and really fits the body very well, its like having a hug frankly ! nice !
The bottom of the jacket has a draw string on either side as well rather than the traditional chord that runs all the way round but tightens on just one side, This I felt gave me a far better seal underneath the jacket and stopped any wind coming in.
The Nebula Pro also comes with added insulation in the form of Status sheet insulation in strategic places on the jacket, Rab claim it is the warmest of their synthetic down jackets and I would have to agree.
The Pertex Quantum Pro ripstop outer is windproof and water resistant according to Rab and I have to say this jacket copes exceptionally well with wind, nothing seems to get through it and it has the added benefit of velcro cuffs and a drawstring in the hood which the Nimbus jacket was lacking and that was a couple of my only issues with that one, the Nebula Pro however addresses those issues and fixes them perfectly.
The hood is large enough to easily fit a helmet under if you're climbing but can be made more compact and fully fitted to your head shape via the draw strings on the front and the Velcro adjustment on the rear.
This jacket really seals round you well to keep the wind out and the neck area is superb as it hugs in close when done up fully but is never uncomfortable, this was one of my issues with the Nimbus jacket as the neck always allowed a draught to get in as it was very loose even when done up.
Another nice touch is the velvet like panel that has been added to the neck/chin area which is now very smooth and warm, essentially a much better refined jacket with these small but important touches that rally improve the user experience.
Whilst the jacket says "Water Repellant", I have to tell you it is in no way "Waterproof" which is a little bit of manufacturer jargon that seems to be bounded about all too freely on jackets to confuse people into thinking its something it isn't.
The Nebula Pro will survive a five minute shower fairly well but anything longer and it will leak through as I have experienced, To be a viable all season jacket you would have to wear it with a waterproof outer shell.
If it does get wet the lofting of the Cirrus HM still keeps you warm even when wet but I have to say the jacket is very quick to dry but be under no illusions if you're caught out in a shower you are going to get wet unless you have an outer layer waterproof with you, My recommendation for this is the Rab Downpour jacket which is very lightweight and compact and goes into a rucksack easily without taking up much space (You can read my review of it by clicking HERE)
The Rab Nebula Pro uses all YKK zips so you know they are good quality and won't let you down plus they are all easily operated with gloves on due to the draw string loops fitted to each, This includes the two outer chest pockets (Which are exceptionally deep by the way) and also the internal chest pocket.
The main front zip can be undone from the bottom of needed as its a two way zip meaning if you need to get access to something you don't have to fully undo the jacket and lose valuable warmth.
The Rab Nebula Pro jacket comes in four colour ways and they are more muted and understated than in previous collections, Oxblood Red, Polar Blue, Sherwood Green & the colour I went for Beluga (Dark Blue essentially) all the jackets feature a contrasting colour on the liner, so on mine it os an orange/red liner and I really like the looks of it, Rab absolutely got it right this year with the combinations in my opinion.
Real World Performance.
So I have extensively tested this jacket over Autumn & Winter in the UK and it hasn't let me down.
The figure hugging design and ability to close down all the gaps in the jacket have proved to be well thought out and designed and very effective and even with winds of up to 50 mph I never once felt the wind get inside it at all
I have used it in temperatures down to -2 but the wind chill factor would have made it much colder and again the Rab Nebula Pro jacket has taken absolutely everything that mother nature could throw at it.
It remained warm and comfortable at all times and feels like so many levels above the nimbus in terms or both warmth and quality.
In terms of being a four season jacket, well i'm not so sure on that one as I feel it would be far too warm in the summer but I would absolutely be happy to have it in my bag as a back up jacket should the weather change rapidly during the summer, and if for nothing else than the great wind resistance it offers.
The jacket is pretty breathable but after long hikes I could feel a little dampness inside where perspiration hadn't fully exited the jacket so I cant give it top marks on that, My Gore-Tex jackets never have this issue with breathability frankly but then they are double the price.
That said as stated previously it is very quick to dry so its not really a problem.
You really don't notice you are wearing this jacket as its so lightweight and comfortable and is incredibly well contoured to the body, even the larger shape gentleman such as myself will have no problem in fitting this jacket nicely due to the many levels of adjustment that are possible with it.
The Nebula Pro jacket has a noticeably a thicker outer material on than the Nimbus jacket and its far tougher and more durable but still remains very soft and full of movement without limitations, but it gives me much more confidence that this jacket can take a knock or two and wont rip open like some lower end jackets do.
The jacket has many more technical features on it than the jackets below it in the range and is easily worth the extra £20 for it, you would be mad not to get it frankly.
The bottom line is I have simply loved the Rab Nebula Pro jacket and wished I had got it sooner, not only is it exceptionally comfortable and warm but it looks nice enough to be worn as an everyday jacket too.
This is my fourth Rab jacket so you could say i'm a fan of the company and products but this is in no way reflected in my review, it is an objective and unbiased review based on real world use and I have no association or affiliation with Rab at all.
I have to throw an objective criticism in which would be that I feel it would benefit from pit zips but it really is a minor crib to be fair.
From one outdoor lover to another, this is THE jacket to get, simply fantastic in every way.
As comfortable and practical when hiking up mountains as it is to simply taking a visit to the shops, I simply love this jacket in every way and wear it every day.
Well Done Rab, The Nebula Pro is the new benchmark in synthetic down jackets.
Value For Money 09/10
TOTAL 47/50 94%
As always, happy shooting.
This jacket was purchased with my own hard earned cash and is reviewed without bias or influence as always. Buy with confidence.