Two members of the Ultralight team got to test the Rab Pulsar Down Jacket that was new for Autumn/Winter 20.
As the newest piece of ultralight down insulation from Rab, I received the new Pulsar with high expectations. I’m pleased to report that it has proved to be a fantastic winter jacket, a versatile all-rounder that has quickly become essential to any and all adventures. I’ve personally used it on a wide variety of trips through the coldest months of the year, and every time I’ve thrown it on it’s been worth its weight in gold.
For general use on the hill, the Pulsar excels. At only 468g it has quickly become the jacket I pack no matter what the weather threatens, and even if you never need it, it’s never cumbersome. It layers well with a hard-shell too, something I would strongly recommend for inclement weather. Despite the Nikwax Hydrophobic treatment the down has received, this is exclusively a dry-conditions jacket, and should be treated as such. The level of warmth this jacket provides is excellent, and makes the Pulsar the most reliable down jacket I’ve used in a long time. No matter the temperature, no matter the activity, if you’re wearing the Pulsar, you’re going to be plenty warm enough, which is exactly what I’d expect from a new jacket by Britain’s foremost down company.
It also has all the features one would expect of a jacket at this price-point: two large handwarmer pockets complemented by an internal zipped pocket, a drawcord at the hem to prevent any unwanted drafts, and a long, comfortable chin guard to stop the zip snagging at the top. The stitch-through construction is plenty warm enough, and the baffles are cleverly shaped to create a snug fit while ensuring an excellent range of motion. The hood, while not helmet-compatible, is extremely cosy, and is just the thing for cold ears on windswept summits.
This is very much a lightweight jacket for everyday use, and if you’re in the market for something more climbing-specific, there are harder-wearing options in Rab’s extensive down line-up. In short, this is a versatile, robust jacket suitable for all outdoor use. Whether it’s Munro bagging in the late autumn, dry belays on crisp winter crag days or simply a family stroll on Christmas morning, the Pulsar is a fantastic jack-of-all-trades.
Reviewed by Finn
For me, the Pulsar was the ideal down jacket. Admittedly, I have a number of them but all failed to hit the mark when I needed a lightweight, packable down jacket that was warm enough to keep me comfortable on cold nights at camp. My previous jackets were either too lightweight and lacking warmth for colder nights or simply too big and heavy for use outside of winter. For some time I had been looking for something with around 200g of down in it for a total weight under 500g. The Pulsar hit all of my requirements and had an impressively low-price tag for this kind of package too.
With a weight of just 468g in a medium size combined with 230g of 800FP Down this is an impressive combination. The 10D Pertex Quantum outer fabric has a nice feel that isn’t as shiny and slippery as you expect from an ultralight fabric like this. Rab have used their own 10D Atmos fabric on the inner which keeps both the cost and the weight down and still feels good. As you might expect from a jacket at this weight, the additional features are pretty limited but this suits me for my intended use. With two handwarmer pockets and an internal chest pocket, all with zip closures, you have plenty of space for stashing items. The hem has a simple but effective drawcord while the cuffs are elasticated. The hood isn’t helmet compatible so it is a much better fit for walkers and general hill users than the normal cavernous helmet hoods. There is a simple Velcro volume adjuster on the rear of the hood which isn’t great but works well enough. There are also two concealed hood adjusters and it comes with a wired peak which are both nice additions.
I’ve used this jacket for a range of autumn and winter trips where warmth was a priority on an evening and it hasn’t disappointed. The simple design saves weight and space when packed down during the day. It doesn’t take long for the down to loft and good to go. I haven’t worn the Pulsar on particularly windy days so can’t say how well it holds the heat without being under a heavy weight winter shell yet but in all the conditions I have tried it in I’ve been more than happy with its performance. This jacket was in the Firecracker colour (a fairly bright orange/red) which I love, especially for safety in the mountains. It also looks good enough for casual wear around town when it’s cold enough.
Reviewed by Michael