Gear Review: Rab Continuum Down Hoodie
Disclosure: The following product was donated for the purpose of review.
You won’t find Rab products in your local big name hiking store. You may not even find the name stitched into the rainbow of shiny layers at your local outdoor shop. Where you will find Rab is on the most technical ascents across the Globe.
Rab’s roots lie across the pond, in the city of Sheffield. Although Rab may hail from the United Kingdom, namesake and founder Rab Carrington found inspiration for his revolutionary gear company in the high peaks of the Alps.
Rab Carrington’s passion for climbing and his years of experience on the slab and ice are uniquely reflected in Rab Gear.
The Rab Women’s Continuum Hoodie is no exception to this description. It is undeniably a Rab piece. While most down jackets toe the line between saving weight by cutting features to retain ultralight function, the Continuum espouses full features at an insanely low weight. It is not only fully functional – it is hyper functional.
Overall Weight: 10.9 ounces (Women’s Medium)
Fill Weight: 3.9 ounces
Color: Dark Shark
Insulation: 850 Fill Nik Wax Hydrophobic Goose Down
Shell: Pertex Quantuum GL
Construction: Sewn Through Baffles
Best Feature: Superior warmth to weight ratio due to an absurd overall weight to down fill weight ratio. This thing is stuffed with down.
Worst Feature: Down routinely escapes through sewn through baffles and seams.
Circumstances of Review
I used this jacket for the winter season in the high peaks of Western North Carolina. Temperatures ranged from the mid twenties through the mid thirties (Degrees Fahrenheit). Conditions were generally wet with frequent snow, freezing rain, and wind gusts. Elevations ranged from 2500 feet to over 6000 feet above sea level.
Down layers are known for their superior warmth to weight ratio and impressive packability. The Rab Continuum Hoodie is warm. It’s very warm. I’ve worn the Continuum Hoodie during a wide temperature and humidity range and I have never been cold. But more than just hearsay, Rab adheres to the rigorous standards mountaineers use when determining how they chose gear, and proves just how well it insulates.
Down Fill Weight
Down fill weight is simply how much down is in a garment. By comparing the overall weight of the garment with the down fill weight of the garment we can determine how much of that weight is actual down insulation and how much is fabric, zipper, and bells and whistles weight?
Down fill weight is a notoriously difficult spec to find in all but the most heavy duty mountaineering jackets. I dare you to research your own down layer and try to find how much down is actually in the garment.
True to their mountaineering routes, Rab makes the Continuum’s down fill weight readily available on their website.
A medium sized women’s Continuum hoodie weighs 10.9 ounces. Of those eleven ounces, four of those ounces are pure 850 fill hydrophobic goose down. That means almost forty percent of the Hoodie’s weight is down. Considering this hoodie is fully featured, encompassing the added weight of zippers for three pockets, full front zip, and four drawcords in the hood and hem, this is an absurdly impressive overall weight to down fill weight ratio.
As excited as I am about the sheer amount of down stuffed into this hoodie, I am also worried at the amount of down that has gradually escaped from this piece. Pertex Quantum GL is a down-proof fabric, but I find feathers escaping with alarming regularity through the sewn through baffles of the Continuum.
Protection from the Elements
The knowledge of how much insulation is in a garment is extremely important to determining the warmth of the garment. The quality of shell fabric is also important in determining garment warmth. It effects how well the piece cuts wind and regulates moisture.
The Continuum Hoodie uses Pertex Quantum GL for shell fabric. Pertex Quantum GL is lightweight, strong, and water resistant. I love Pertex Quantum GL for its water resistant properties – light rain and melting snow bead up and are brushed right off. In addition to its performance properties, the shell fabric also isn’t as “shiny” as some other water resistant shell fabrics that are more akin to garbage bags then the soft fabric of Pertex Quantum GL.
Unfortunately, while the fabric performed well, I have concerns about its durability. The first day I received it, a thorn managed to poke a small hole in the shell fabric when I crashed into thorn bush while sledding.
The Continuum is a fully featured down garment. Features help determine how well the garment traps heat and/or prevents heat loss. The Continuum features a helmet compatible hood with three adjustable draw cords and a flexible polymer peak, a full zip with internal baffle, hem draw cord, two hand warmer pockets, and a chest pocket that doubles as a stuff sack.
The Continuum Hoodie is big enough to cover a helmet, a big score for all ya’ll climbers and snow bunnies. I have a tiny head so I made a lot of use of all three draw cords on the Continuum’s hood. After getting caught in a surprise snowstorm in the North Carolina high peaks while on a trail run, I learned to adore the Continuum Hoodie’s flexible polymer brim. It kept my eyes and face free from snow and gave me a clear field of vision.
The full zipper is a nice feature for layering, and the internal baffle is excellent at trapping heat within the garment and keeping cold drafts out. I haven’t felt any cold spots through any of the zippers, including the full front zipper.
Hem Draw Cords and Pockets
The bottom draw cord along the edge of the garment is excellent at trapping heat and preventing its escape from the bottom hem. The hand warmer pockets are spacious and are nice for stashing your snickers. The chest pocket that doubles as a stuff sack is a personal favorite. In temperatures below freezing I use it to keep my Snickers warm and my Trail Butter pliable. It also makes packing the Continuum super simple when I’m ready to stash it in my pack. The contrasting colors (in my case, blue) also get points for being so bright I can easily locate the piece in the void that is my winter pack.
The Continuum has a slim fit to slip underneath outer layers and for harness compatibility. While those performance aspects of the Continuum’s fit are impressive, it also leaves the garment with beautiful lines. I usually have fitment issues at 5’1″ and 100 pounds, so I was impressed with the attractive and versatile cut of the garment. I was able to hike and run in the Continuum comfortably while not looking like the Stay Puft Marshmellow man.
The Continuum performed well during my gear testing. The ample down kept me warm in the coldest conditions and the Pertex Quantum GL fabric cut wind and prevented water from collapsing the down beneath. In prolonged wet conditions, the Continuum still continued to perform despite some loss in loft. The hydrophobic down effectively decreased drying time.
As well as the Continuum performed on my gear tests, I was even more impressed with its performance as an everyday wear piece. The cut of the Continuum is attractive and the fit is comfortable enough to layer under or over additional pieces. The contrasting colors look great casually as well as out in the field. It’s light enough to fit in my pack but it’s durable enough to wear everyday.
The Women’s Rab Continuum Hoodie retails at $350.00 , but you can find better deals down to (pun intended) just over $200.00 on select sizes. At $200 dollars, the Continuum Hoodie is a steal. At retail, it’s pricey for those who don’t spend every day on the mountain or on the slopes. But the justification of the price is not only a premier piece of backpacking, skiing, or climbing gear, but a great everyday and casual wear hoodie.
Rab has made its mark on the ultralight market by sticking to the gear they make best and refusing to compromise functionality for weight. If you’re looking for an all around jacket that’ll still impress on the mountain or on the slopes this is it.
New for Spring and Summer 2016
Rab just introduced an even lighter jacket version of the Continuum weighing in at nine ounces for a Women’s Medium. Looks like another winner.
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