Winters are harsh in the U.K., and British alpinists are known for getting out in all types of conditions. So if there’s any brand we can trust to make proper gear for the cold and wet, it’s Rab. This England-based company launched the Neutrino down jacket over a decade ago, and with a number of improvements along the way up to the latest Pro version, it’s one of the best on the market. This jacket is lofty, relatively tough, and well-suited for the depths of winter. Below we break down our experiences with the Neutrino Pro. To see how it stacks up, see our articles on the best down jackets and best winter jackets.
Table of Contents
- Weather Resistance
- Weight and Packability
- Construction and Durability
- Fit and Sizing
- What We Like/What We Don't
- Comparison Table
- The Competition
Without a doubt, the Rab Neutrino Pro is one of the warmest technical down jackets on the market. First, it’s packed with a whopping 8 ounces of premium 800-fill power goose down. Second, Rab chose Pertex Quantum Pro as the shell fabric (more on that below), which is more wind- and water-resistant than the standard shells commonly found on other down jackets, including regular Pertex Quantum. Finally, the helmet-compatible hood can be easily cinched down to keep gusting winds and blowing snow at bay. This all adds up to serious warmth, and much more than you get from a lightweight piece.
In fact, the Neutrino Pro is so warm that it doesn’t wear well on mild winter days or during high-output activities. Instead, it shines while setting up camp, casually walking around town in below-freezing temperatures, or sitting still in the cold. On a recent backcountry outing where temperatures were in the mid-teens Fahrenheit, I was easily able to boil water, prepare lunch, and lie down on a granite slab for some unsuccessful alpine sunbathing—all with just a lightweight baselayer on underneath. Living in the Methow Valley in the North Cascades—where temperatures often reach single digits during the winter—this will be one of my go-to jackets for cold days.
By design, down jackets are not meant to guard against heavy rain or snow, but the Neutrino Pro provides more protection than most. Unlike the thin shells found on the majority of down jackets, the Neutrino’s Pertex Quantum Pro provides excellent wind and water protection by way of a tightly woven fabric paired with a water-resistant coating and (DWR) finish. On a recent rainy day, I purposefully misused the jacket and wore it outside while walking my dog. After about 20 minutes of drizzle, water continued to bead on the surface of the jacket and it didn’t come close to wetting out. To be sure, the Neutrino Pro will never replace the need for a rain jacket or hardshell during especially wet outings. But for alpine conditions when the snow is falling or the ice is dripping, the weather protection and warmth of the Neutrino Pro is an ideal middle ground.
Should water make it past the first barrier of Pertex, a second line of defense awaits: hydrophobic down. The goose down inside the Neutrino Pro, like many high-end jackets, is treated with a water repellent finish to keep it from losing its loft. Some skeptics remain—and you certainly shouldn’t expect any miracles—but hydrophobic down does its job of increasing wet-weather performance. Additionally, to help guard against moisture seeping through, Rab incorporated a weather-resistant baffle filled with synthetic fibers behind the main zipper. A synthetic jacket often is our first choice for insulation in wet weather above freezing, but for cold conditions where you won’t necessarily be facing a deluge, the Neutrino Pro is impressively weather-resistant.
Weighing in at 1 pound 4.8 ounces in a men’s size medium on our scale (the listed weight is 1 lb. 5.3 oz.), the Rab Neutrino Pro is not what I’d consider lightweight. However, taking into account the generous amount of 800-fill-power down (8 oz.), fairly burly Pertex Quantum Pro shell, and high level of warmth it provides, the jacket is an impressive piece of apparel. For comparison, it easily undercuts the slightly more robust Mountain Equipment Lightline (1 lb. 10.1 oz.), Arc’teryx Firebee AR (1 lb. 8 oz.), and REI Co-op Stormhenge 850 (1 lb. 11 oz.). Among winter-ready designs, few can come close to the Neutrino’s mix of warmth and insulation.
You don’t really buy a jacket like the Neutrino Pro for its small size when packed down—packability is simply not its strong suit. But measuring about 7 x 10 inches and easily able to be smooshed down further, the jacket slips nicely into any average-sized daypack. And while it wouldn’t be my first choice for any adventures that involve moving fast and light, the Neutrino Pro is a great option when the temperatures drop and the added warmth is worth the increased size and bulk. We’ve used the previous version (which was very similar in terms of design and warmth) on extended winter backcountry trips and it performed great.
The Rab Neutrino Pro jacket was my first experience with the U.K.-based brand, and I’ve been impressed with its overall build quality and construction so far. The zippers are appropriately sized for their intended use (they don’t feel overly fragile or too heavy), the Velcro cuffs are high-quality and still perform like new, and there isn’t a seam or stitch out of place. And despite its relatively thin 20-denier fabric, the Pertex Quantum Pro material has done an excellent job of brushing off branches, granite, and casual around-town use thus far. For comparison sake, the Neutrino Pro’s fabric feels noticeably more robust than our since-discontinued Patagonia Fitz Roy Parka, which accumulated a number of small holes in a short two-month time period.
The Neutrino Pro has a relatively minimal feature set with everything you need for technical endeavors but none of the frills. The hood is helmet-compatible, well-insulated, and features a wired brim for added protection and visibility in the snow. While we love the generous fit for ice climbing missions, we find the hood rather ungainly when not paired with a climbing helmet (or at least a hat). That said, you can always cinch it down with two pull cords (one on each side), which provide easy adjustment and tuck under small flaps for a streamlined look.
Moving down the jacket, the cuffs offer simple Velcro adjustments, which we found easy to use. However, for most situations we could manage without the added weight and bulk of the Velcro tabs (the Patagonia Fitz Roy features simple elastic cuffs, for example). In terms of pockets, you get two fleece-lined handwarmer pockets and an internal zip pocket on the chest—great for storing your phone close to the warmth of your body. We do think the lack of internal dump pockets is a notable omission, which we find helpful for storing things like skins or gloves.
The Neutrino Pro doesn’t have the svelte fit of a jacket like the Arc’teryx Cerium LT, but it isn’t overly baggy or large like the Patagonia Macro Puff either. Rab bills the jacket as a “regular” fit, and my size medium feels just right considering its intended purpose (for reference, I’m about 5’9” and 160 pounds). When temperatures dropped into the teens, the slightly relaxed build easily allowed me to slip a midlayer underneath (the Arc’teryx Atom LT being my favorite), yet it didn’t feel excessively baggy with just a thin baselayer on—one of my main complaints with the Macro Puff (reviewed here). Having said that, don’t expect the jacket to pair well with a hardshell over top. Even my size medium Arc’teryx Rush ski jacket (which is quite large) was maxed out over the Neutrino Pro.
Other Versions of the Rab Neutrino Pro
We reviewed the men’s version of the Neutrino Pro here, and Rab also makes the jacket in a women’s version. The designs are nearly identical, including the same 800-fill goose down and Pertex Quantum Pro shell fabric. Because of the women’s-specific fit, that jacket has 1 ounce less of down fill and is lighter at 1 pound 2.7 ounces total, but both jackets retail for $375. And the Neutrino line is not made in a hoodless version—you’ll have to step down to the lightweight category for that.
Sustainability: Responsibly Sourced Goose Down
Rab has joined the ranks of many outdoor brands in their pursuit of providing sustainably sourced outdoor gear. For the Neutrino Pro, Rab partnered with the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) for certifying their goose down. This includes no live plucking, no force feeding, and animals are treated in a humane way throughout their lives. Furthermore, the jacket’s Nikwax hydrophobic treatment is fluorocarbon-free, meaning that it does not have the toxic chemicals often used in water repellants. All in all, it’s nice to see yet another outdoor company make these positive changes to their supply chain.
- With 8 ounces of 800-fill down, the Neutrino Pro is just about as warm as technical down jackets gets.
- The 20-denier Pertex Quantum Pro shell fabric is decently durable and more weather protective than many competing models.
- Built with a high attention to detail, including a synthetically-insulated baffle underneath the front zipper and a great fit.
- RDS (Responsible Down Standard) certified, ensuring that it adheres to the highest animal welfare and safety standards.
What We Don’t
- Heavy and warm for mild winter temperatures—this truly is a winter piece.
- For non-Europeans, the left-hand zipper takes some getting used to and can be difficult to start.
- The helmet-compatible hood and performance-oriented looks can be overkill for around-town use.
|Jacket||Price||Weight||Fill Power||Fill Weight||Denier||Packable|
|Rab Neutrino Pro||$375||1 lb. 5.3 oz.||800 fill||8 oz.||20D||Stuff sack|
|Mountain Equipment Lightline||$300||1 lb. 10.1 oz.||700 fill||10.4 oz.||40D||Stuff sack|
|Patagonia Fitz Roy Down Hoody||$399||1 lb. 1.1 oz.||800 fill||6.3 oz.||20D|
|Montbell Alpine Down Parka||$299||1 lb.||800 fill||7.1 oz.||20D||Stuff sack|
|REI Co-op Stormhenge 850||$249||1 lb. 11 oz.||850 fill||Unavail.||Unavail.||No|
|Feathered Friends Helios||$389||1 lb. 2 oz.||900 fill||7.8 oz.||20D||Stuff sack|
As detailed above, the Rab Neutrino Pro is a very warm down jacket built for winter, and its competitors are found in the heavyweight category. A nice, cheaper alternative is the Mountain Equipment Lightline, which retails for $75 less at $300. The main sacrifice comes with the quality of the down, which on the Lightline is more mid-range at 700-fill power, impacting its loft, compressibility, and warmth. On the flipside, it has an impressive 10.4 ounces of fill weight and a tougher 40-denier shell. Both jackets look quite similar and are made by U.K. brands, with the Rab being the more premium of the two in both materials and construction. For backcountry use, we like the Neutrino Pro, but the Lightline is a whole lot of down jacket for less.
Stepping over to a rather prominent U.S. gear manufacturer, the Patagonia Fitz Roy Down Hoody is a fairly close match to the Neutrino Pro in terms of specs. The Fitz Roy is slightly lighter at 1 pound 1.1 ounces and uses 6.3 ounces of 800-fill-power down (the Rab uses 8 oz.) for a small drop in warmth. In addition, the Patagonia features Pertex’s standard Quantum shell fabric, which is a bit less durable and weather-resistant as the Neutrino’s Quantum Pro. That said, the Patagonia looks better for casual wear with a more streamlined design and softer fabrics, and it can easily play double-duty as both a technical and daily piece.
Montbell is a leader in ultralight gear, and their Alpine Down Parka stacks up very competitively to the Neutrino Pro. Both jackets offer similar warmth (the Montbell uses 7.1 oz. of 800-fill-power down), have 20-denier shells, and sport trimmed-down feature sets including cinchable hoods (the Montbell’s isn’t helmet-compatible), adjustable cuffs, and functional but minimalist storage. The Montbell gets the clear edge in price at $299 and weight at 1 pound even, but it’s less of a refined piece and doesn’t work as well for daily wear. In addition, its shell is less weather-resistant, and you miss out on the Neutrino Pro’s internal pocket. Taken together, we think the Rab is the more complete design.
For a cozy winter jacket that is more casual in nature, the REI Co-op Stormhenge 850 is a tremendous value at $249. Compared to the Neutrino Pro, it’s considerably heavier at 1 pound 11 ounces and much bulkier when packed down. However, the generous use of 850-fill down (REI doesn’t list a fill weight, but we’ve worn it on frigid days in Northern Wisconsin and stayed warm), 2-layer waterproof shell with sealed seams, and burly face fabric make it the better choice for inclement weather. At the end of the day, the cheaper and harder-wearing Stormhenge 850 is ideal for daily use and wet winter weather, but the lighter Rab Neutrino Pro takes the cake for backcountry adventures where warmth and performance are paramount.
Last but not least, Seattle down specialist Feathered Friends can be tough to beat in terms of insulation. Like the Rab, the Helios Hooded Down Jacket is another technical piece for serious winter use, with 7.8 ounces of 900-fill down (that’s more warmth for the weight than the 800-fill on the Rab). At an impressive total weight of 1 pound 2 ounces, the Feathered Friends is lighter than the Neutrino Pro, comparable in terms of warmth, costs only $14 more at $389, and is made in the U.S. But the 20-denier Pertex Endurance LT shell is less weather-resistant, plus the Helios looks even more technical, which is a notable downside for some.
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