Tested extensively by Cairngorm Treks from May 2017 to July 2017 during multi day trekking in the central Cairngorms, including high wild camping at over 1200 metres in temperatures below freezing.
Every now and again, innovation comes along that can be a real game-changer. Rab’s Nebula jacket is one of these innovative items. The crucial point about the jacket is that it is, like all excellent outdoor gear, designed firstly for functionality rather than as a must-see item to be worn in the pub, although it is a stylish good-looker as well.
Classed as an all round weather item, we have found it suits mountain conditions perfectly for pulling out of the back pack when stopping for brews, setting up camp or blethering (bantering south of the border) with friends under a tarp on a cold night. We can also see that it will be just as practical in the winter when, with the correct layers, it will provide great insulation whilst snow holing, snow shoeing or backcountry skiing and camping.
One pleasantly surprising use we found for the jacket was putting it directly over a wet shell when the mountain chill starts invading the body’s core. With time this combination managed to wick away the underlying dampness whilst rapidly bringing back the body’s temperature to toasty.
The Nebula can also stand a steady drizzle without the jacket becoming a sodden cold mess often found with down jackets, and maintains its insulation when wet. It is also extremely quick drying. These positive features are undoubtedly due to the synthetic materials used, especially the Pertex Endurance outer layer and the breakthrough Cirrus insulation, which allows the Nebula to provide warmth and comfort comparable to a 600FP down jacket.
Weight wise the Nebula comes in at 580g (Large). This is slightly heavier than equivalent down jackets, therefore might be a tad heavy for lightweight enthusiasts. However, it allows other layers to be left at home. Also, the added weight of a stuff sack is not needed as it squeezes into one of its own pockets, although this is a little bulky.
The Nebula is robustly made and should give years of service and, importantly, can be easily cleaned at home in the washing machine. Features we also liked are the large handwarmer pockets that do truly heat up cold hands quickly, the cinchable hood which can be worn over or under a helmet and with easy to use drawstrings, and a strongly baffled front zip stopping cold air getting in. The jacket has a generous regular cut allowing layers to be used underneath and, perhaps one of our favourite features, a long back length that fully covers the lumbar region and the top of the buttocks. Another nice feature is that the jacket uses an even fill throughout; including the hood, meaning it is free from cold spots.
Our verdict: A stunning 'must have' in the back pack item which is durable, super warm, value for money, combines the best features of both down and synthetic jackets, and can be used all year round in a range of mountain environments and for a range of activities. Although this product will never pack down to the same small size or weight as a down filled jacket, the benefits that allow you to cut weight elsewhere are clearly there.
Cairngorm Treks is a small family business based in the picturesque village of Tomintoul in the North East region of the Cairngorms National Park. They provide bespoke Mountain Guiding for Single Day Walks and Lightweight Multiday Trekking experiences, including wild camping, in the stunning Cairngorms wilderness and surrounding areas. Whether in the high mountains or lower valleys, their Multiday Treks are equipped with high quality, lightweight camping and trekking gear. They only work with small groups and, whatever your ability, pride themselves on designing your outdoor experience completely to your needs and with professional guidance and expertise. Adventure is waiting...