The Rab Strata Hoodie is a highly compressible, lightweight, breathable, synthetic-insulated jacket made for active performance.
Colors: Rust (red), Apple (green), Ink (reviewed jacket), and Ebony (black)
Weight: 430 grams, 15.2 ounces (Large)
Outer shell: 20d Pertex Microlight. The fabric is very smooth, snag and abrasion resistant, yet breathes very well. I have brushed against rocks and gotten hung up on tree branches while bushwhacking through the woods without causing a single snag or tear in the fabric. I don’t recommend crawling through a rock garden with the jacket on, but it does seem very durable in the limited amount of time that I have been able to test it.
Insulation: Polartec Alpha (80g/square meter) with zoned fabric placement for better breathability and comfort.
Fit and sizing:
Layering: Rab, which is based out of the UK, tends to design their clothing in a European slim/athletic fit. I am 5′ 9″, 170 pounds, and the medium size fits me perfectly with room for a couple of thin layers underneath. In below-freezing conditions, I find this jacket works best with one to two thin, long-sleeve merino wool or synthetic layers. In temperatures above freezing or in high-humidity conditions, I find that the breathability works best with a short-sleeve technical t-shirt. Personally, I tend to overheat easily and develop a very sweaty back when active and carrying a pack. I find the jacket’s breathability improves when wearing thin layers instead of one thick synthetic or wool layer.
*Note: With any layering system, it is important to experiment with different layers and fabrics in a variety of conditions to see what is optimal. The system that works best for me will not necessarily work for everyone.
Sleeves: The sleeve length is one of the better features of this jacket. They are long enough with arms fully extended to not expose my wrists, but not so long as to bunch up around my wrists with arms relaxed. With my +1 ape index, the sleeve length is perfect with room for even longer arms. If someone has extremely short arms, this could pose an issue with fabric bunching around the wrists.
Hood: The hood is close fitting and turns with the wearer. I have had zero issues with visibility while wearing the hood. The edge of the hood has an elastic seam that will stretch over and conform to a variety of head sizes. The hood will tightly fit over my Grivel climbing helmet, but works much better worn under a helmet, and really increases warmth in freezing conditions. There is no hood adjustment due to how closely the hood fits. The stow strap/clip built into the jacket works very well and allows the user to stow the hood when not needed.
Length: The jacket has a shorter cut than a belay jacket, but does not expose my back when bending over. The jacket can be tucked under a climbing harness and remain in place during vigorous movement. Unfortunately, tucking the jacket under a climbing harness covers most of the two zip-able hand-warmer pockets. I would prefer the pockets positioned slightly higher up the torso, so that, if the jacket were tucked, the pockets would still be accessible.
MSRP: $235, although I have seen this jacket on sale for as low as $150.
Unique features: The chest pocket on the Strata is large enough to stow a map or set of goggles. The chest pocket also doubles as a stuff sack and works great as a pillow. Unlike some built-in stuff sacks, you don’t have to be the Hulk to stuff this one and still get the zipper shut. Once stuffed, the sack has a small loop that can be clipped to a carabiner and attached to a harness.
When designing the jacket, Rab did a great job adjusting insulation thickness according to heat transfer of the body. In places that tend to overheat and create more perspiration, the insulation in thinner and breathability is greater.
Application: The Strata Hoodie is made for active performance in a variety of conditions. Whether it’s rock climbing, backpacking, alpine climbing, or running errands around town, this jacket works well to keep the user comfortable and dry. The insulation is not as warm as similar weight Primaloft One insulation, but is much more breathable. In cold conditions, this jacket works very well while on the move, but stand still for any length of time and you feel the cold soak through. This jacket is not a belay jacket, but can easily be layered with a hardshell or another synthetic jacket to increase warmth in extreme conditions or static environments.
3. Micro-fleece lined handwarmer pockets
4. Large chest pocket that doubles as a stuff sack
5. Hood stows away very easily with built-in clip
6. Sleeve length
1. May be too breathable in very cold or windy conditions
2. Handwarmer pocket placement is too low on the torso
3. Jacket is heavier than comparable jackets in Primaloft
Bottom line/overall performance: I have had this jacket for about nine months and have been very happy with the overall performance. In some respects, I would like the jacket to be a little bit warmer, but not if it would sacrifice the amazing breathability. I have used this jacket in a variety of conditions: snow, light rain, wind, and freezing temperatures. The jacket performed well in all listed conditions, but really held its own while climbing in cold conditions. During a recent climb in the Cascades, not once did I feel like I was overheating or getting that clammy sweaty feeling that the Cascades are so good at producing. I would highly recommend this jacket to any outdoor enthusiast that tends to overheat while moving fast in the mountains.
*Note: As always, if you have any questions about this jacket feel free to ask in the comments below.