For a long while now I've been missing something during the Winter months, A decent mid layer.
Now to be clear here I have a really decent spec hardshell Gore-Tex jacket and I have several Rab synthetic down jackets which are excellent and could easily constitute a mid layer but the problem is I don't really like wearing my Gore-Tex hard shell jacket
I absolutely love the performance of Gore-Tex, it's level of waterproofing, breathability and wind killing features are second to none, that has never been in question, But I simply dont like wearing it unless its raining, what I really want to do is just wear my synthetic down jackets and carry a spare waterproof over jacket (in my case its the Rab Downpour jacket)
The problem has been the winter months, when the wind chill factor is bringing the temperature into the minus figures, the synthetic down jackets on their own just aren't enough, What I really needed was a mid layer to take the bite out of it all, Enter the Rab Superflux hoody.
Mid layers are a tremendously personal thing, some prefer fleece, some prefer down, some prefer synthetic and so on.
I asked myself what do I need from a mid layer ? Warmth, breathability & stretch were my top priorities for this so the search began.
Some things I would have liked but weren't deal breakers were a napoleon pocket for my microphone when vlogging, a set of pockets for hand warming, and preferably a close fitting neck that was flexible and comfortable without being restrictive, ie must be stretchy fabric.
I wanted to have a dual purpose for this item of clothing too, I wanted something I could store in the bag easily for summer months where the wind got up a little, and was capable of being a stand alone jacket, and I also wanted it to be my mid layer for the colder months as well.
After looking at the various options available from all brands I stopped at the old faithful, Rab.
Now I make no secret of my love for Rab products, I have purchased many of them and there's a reason, I have trust in them and I love the products, Just to be clear every Rab item I own has been purchased with my own hard earned cash and nothing has ever been given by Rab or anyone else so you can be sure these views are mine and have no influence from any company.
I enjoy buying from Rab as they are a very ethical, carbon neutral company and of course British, so the gear is designed for this climate and conditions and over time they have become my go to supplier for all my outdoor clothing.
I singled out several hoodies from the range to try and see which one suited the best.
the short list was.....
Rab Superflux Hoody
Rab Powerstretch Pro Jacket
Rab Capacitor Hoody
Rab Borealis Jacket (Total wildcard choice here)
Why I chose the Rab Superflux Hoody ?
The Rab PowerStretch Pro jacket felt touch too thick for me, and a tiny bit more restrictive, but it was certainly warm.
The Rab Capacitor Hoody was actually really nice but I felt it didn't have as much give as the Superflux Hoody
The Rab Borealis was a fantastic jacket, but it just wasn't quite right for the needs I had, but I did give it serious consideration for yet another jacket to be added to the arsenal for future trips as it was super light weight and incredibly comfy it just had a bit too much of a gap at the neck for me to make it fully viable for a winter mid layer.
This left the Superflux Hoody which I obviously purchased.
How The Rab Superflux Hoody Fits ?
As soon as I tried on the Rab Superflux Hoody I knew it was exactly what I wanted, it matched my search criteria perfectly and even had the non deal breaker bits I needed too.
The level of comfort when wearing this cant be conveyed enough, it's like being given a loving warming hug no matter which way you moved in it, now who doesn't want that ?
So what is the Rab Superflux hoody all about ? What makes it command the hefty price tag and was it good enough to justify it ?
The Construction of the Rab Superflux Hoody
To start with the construction of the jacket is with something Rab refer to as Thermic Fabric, Now I'm not going to try and tell you the technical description of this but ill simply tell you that Rab say, it is a family of engineered fleece fabrics developed to be light, warm, fast drying, and durable. Available in a variety of different weights and constructions to suit the demands of different users and activities.
Now in laymen's words, its bloomin comfortable stretchy stuff that keeps you warm and breathes !
The jacket is a close fit which contours to the body, something that instantly fills me with dread when I hear it not being the slimmest of chaps, but this fits really nicely and dare I say it in a very flattering way.
The jacket is a good length and being 6' 2" tall I still never found it rode up above my waist band even when at full stretch which was quite impressive.
The Technical Features of the Rab Superflux Hoody
The Thermic fabric has a really good degree of stretch to it so no matter which way you're stretching it just works with you and always feels comfortable.
The inside of the jacket has micro pile fleece on it which feels great either against the skin or with a base layer underneath (My preferred way to wear it) and is very warm without being too warm.
The outside of the hoody is a smooth fabric which is very nice to the touch and slides against any jacket you wear it with giving friction free movement and again a nice user experience.
It feels very durable and I have given it a pretty good test on rocks and scrambling through some heavy forests too.
The hoodies hood is designed to wear under a helmet so it fits close to the contours of your head which is a godsend for me as I'm not a climber so I don't ever wear a helmet and I hate how many of my jackets are designed to wear over the top of a helmet so no matter how much you pull the draw chords there is still always gaps somewhere ! not so with this hoody, so its perfect for giving me that little extra wind protection and warmth and it makes a real difference.
The neck itself feels gorgeous, it hugs the contour of your neck perfectly sealing out the wind but never being tight enough to cause any discomfort, you can barely feel it but it really makes a huge difference to me in terms of warmth.
There are no draw strings on the hood but you wont need them thanks to the 6% elastane make up of it, it will seal nicely around all head shapes as does the neck and keep wind at bay.
The hoody has a thumb loop on the end of each sleeve which I have to say i've found myself using far more than I thought I would and find them very comfortable as well as stopping the sleeves from riding up at any point, it works especially well when wearing gloves as it gives you a real seal, especially with a top layer on too !
Two mesh lined hand warmer pockets work well and are of a good size to keep items in where needed.
A single bonded napoleon pocket is on the chest and its well suited for smaller items such as a wallet or foldable map or a phone, each of the YKK zips has a thumb loop on as well making it easy to do the zips even with thick gloves on.
The hoody comes in at a nice light weight of 402g / 14oz, and it really feels like nothing when you have it on and you wont notice it packed in the rucksack either so it's a good item to have with you all year round, it compresses nicely in a stuff sack but is a little bit bulkier than a down jacket.
How To Best Use The Rab Superflux Hoody
My use for this hoody was in two quite different pursuits, first of all Hiking over fairly long distances fully laden with with a very heavy back pack and then being stationary for several hours at a time doing photography and waiting for just the right moment of light.
It needed to be a highly technical item of clothing and be very breathable as well as warm when needed so I could hike without my top layer on, and then add a top layer while stationary.
So what im asking for is pretty much the earth right ? well yes I guess so but thats the requirements I needed.
Whats the Build Quality Like ?
The quality of the hoody is exceptionally good as you would expect from Rab, the seams are a nice low profile which really adds to the comfort of the hoody and you wouldn't know they were there.
The stitching appears to be very neat and nicely done and I haven't had any incidents of the threads unravelling despite some pretty tough use.
The outer fabric again has been nicely tear resistant and I have given it a fairly tough use scraping against rocks and walking through gorse bushes but its held up very well.
The Rab Superflux hoody comes in a choice of four colours, I went for the deep ink colour as I love the blues and seem to always get jackets in that colour but there's a brighter red if thats your thing or the traditional black or graphite grey models available too.
The jacket comes with a years warranty but Rab offer something they call the Rab promise which essentially says that if your item fails due to a manufactures defect in a useable lifetime then Rab will repair or replace the item, so a good level of protection is available in all fairness.
Real World Use
The Rab Superflux hoody has been superb, i've had hikes wearing just this in low temperature weather without the need for a top layer, and equally I've used it as a mid layer during some serious cold spells and extreme 40 mile per hour winds and it has performed really well.
I've never felt cold while wearing it and it seems to regulate to the body temperature really quite well.
In terms of breathability I cant say its amazing, it is pretty good and will wick moisture away well but I have had several tough hikes where i've noticed my arms getting a little clammy and if you slide a hand inside the fleece there are areas of moisture there, I need to stress though these have been hard going hikes.
Is The Rab Superflux Hoody Waterproof ?
Obviously the hoody isn't waterproof at all and you will need a rain shell or top layer to use this in the wet weather although it is very fast drying should you get caught out at all.
It does handle the wind pretty well when worn on its own but again its not sold as windproof but with a top layer on nothing is getting through the both of them and thats its purpose.
There are no draw strings on the bottom of the hoody and if you're wearing it as a mid layer then you wouldn't really need them but if its a standalone layer then to be fair I felt it could benefit by having one and at the price of it I don't think its too much to ask.
Is It Worth The Price ?
This brings me onto my only real negative about the Rab Superflux Hoody, The price !
At £90 this is a seriously expensive mid layer and while I cant really fault its performance I do feel its a tad over priced, I would have been far more comfortable seeing this priced around £69.99-£79.99, I feel thats a fair price point for it but don't know the costs of Thermic material, maybe its far more expensive than other fleece materials ?
The bottom line here is if you can justify the high price of £90 for this hoody then you will be getting a really good bit of kit and I have thoroughly enjoyed using mine, its been the missing link between cold and comfortable for me in winter.
I appreciate the technical aspects of this hoody and think it has been really well thought out in the design and it certainly works for me and does exactly the job I need it to so therefore its worth the £90 to me, albeit slightly begrudgingly.
Would I Recommend The Rab Superflux Hoody ?
Would I recommend this to a friend ? 100% yes as long as you can afford it, its been a great addition to my kit and I think I will use it for all four seasons in some form or another as a mid layer or a standalone jacket, I also find myself wearing it for far more than just hiking, it really is a smart looking layer and is equally at home going round the shops or hiking up a mountain.
The comfort, flexibility & warmth as a mid layer is unrivalled in anything else I've used and I really enjoy wearing it.
The Rab Superflux hoody has been one of my favourite purchases of the year once I could get over the price.
TOTAL 42/50 84%
This hoody would have been a solid 90% if the price had been just a touch more realistic at £69.99-£79.99
The jacket performs exceptionally well and is a joy to wear, it performs superbly as a mid layer and works well in warmer climates as a standalone layer.
The quality is fantastic and this jacket does exactly what its intended for, if you can justify the price then go ahead and get it, it will easily exceed your expectations and I'm sure you will be very happy with it.
For me this has been the missing link I've needed in my hiking and photography, comfort and performance has become a far bigger thing the older i've got and I'm really happy with both on the Rab Superflux Hoody.
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