Rab Drillium Jacket

Summary: Multi-activity jacket with minimal features, but excellent specifications
Price: £160
Value: 9/10
Performance: 9/10
  • eVent fabric – the best waterproof fabric available today
  • Water resistant zips
  • Two Handwarmer pockets – Self draining
  • Rollaway hood with elastic drawcord height and volume adjustment.
  • Internal mesh pocket
  • Lightweight – 343 grams in medium size
  • Velcro cuff adjustment
  • Single pull elasticated drawcord on hem
  • The Drillium is Rab’s take on a lightweight multi-activity waterproof jacket, the sort of thing that should instantly make your typical adventure racer’s ears prick up. The jacket is a minimal design designed to be lightweight, yet durable and apt for a variety of uses.

    3 ply eVent fabric is as good as it gets these days from a waterproof fabric. Picking up where Gore-Tex left off and running with it into the 21st Century, eVent is top of the tree in terms of waterproofness, breathability and durability. Using an expanded PTFE membrane, like Gore-Tex, the difference comes in the application of the protective inner coating of polyurethane, compared to the way that Gore do this. The result is a membrane that can allow water vapour moisture to pass through much more easily than other membrane fabrics, whilst remaining extremely waterproof. In my experience with a wardrobe of jackets made from nearly every fabric going, eVent has proven consistently to be the fabric that has worked the best for me in the widest variety of conditions and the one I would recommend above all others.

    It ‘breathes’ far better than Gore-Tex and leaves you feeling more comfortable as a result. It will never keep up with the moisture generated by an athlete at full tilt but it works well for your average hike or bike ride. Perhaps someone has it in for me, but this was the umpteenth item I’ve been sent to test in bright orange which makes it somewhat conspicuous down the pub, but probably actually a quite useful colour to be wearing in the hills and on the roads. (It does come in other more subtler colours though!)

    When it first arrived the fabric was so stiff it was like wearing one of those sandwich boards advertising a golf sale, but over the past few months it’s been softening up, though I still wouldn’t say it’s as pliable and as comfortable as other versions of the fabric I’ve used. The full length water resistant zipper and two water resistant pocket zippers add (or rather take away) to the minimalist approach giving style points and functionality. I’m personally not a fan of water resistant main zippers as the extra friction means they just don’t slide as easily as a regular style zipper, making them more difficult to adjust one handed, particularly relevant on the bike. Anyway, most people seem to like them so it may be a personally gripe.

    The fit of the jacket is good though, with the large size I had being slim enough in the body to show that it has been designed for more active (slimmer) people than the hiking jackets in the Rab range. Body length is short; to just below the waist, with a slightly shorter front and longer back for use on the bike. Arm length is spot on for me, but I do have rather long arms. Still you can always roll a sleeve up if it’s a touch too long, but there’s not a lot you can do about a sleeve that’s too short! Sleeves end cuffs are adjustable with a minimal Velcro adjustment, but no elastic means you can open them wide to scoop air in for venting when the going gets hot.

    The two handwarmer pockets are large and will take an OS map without a problem. They each have small holes in the bottom, designed to allow water that gets in when you have the pockets open, to empty out before the pockets fill up. Nice touch. An internal mesh zippered pocket expands to take a water bottle when you need to keep it defrosted and also contains a loop to attach your keys to. A soft microfleece chin guard is a welcome touch and was appreciated when in the cold of Poland recently at the Bergson Winter Challenge.

    So far, everything about this jacket was excellent. The only drawback is the hood. The main part of the hood fits very well and the volume adjuster on the back does an excellent job; it’s toggle is also quite lowdown so it doesn’t interfere with a bike helmet. The hood rolls out of a tall jacket collar and the design means that the sides of the hood round the face are missing, meaning that it leaves a lot of the face exposed to side winds and rain. The wire peak stiffened peak does well at protecting from above and the front, but my cheeks, nose and chin (no comments about their protrusion please) got a fair amount of weathering when worn in windy, wet, and cold conditions like we’ve had here in Scotland and when racing in the Bergson Winter Challenge in Poland. It’s the one thing that lets it down, but on occasions has been the reason that I’ve left it in the cupboard when the weather’s been bad and reached for another jacket instead.

    All in all an excellent jacket, with a first class fabric and well fitted design. Minimal features keep the weight down while the ripstop outer fabric laminated to the ePTFE membrane are very durable for a lightweight fabric. It didn’t suffer once from numerous run ins with brambles, thorny trees and abuse from the bike when hike-a-biking, so I’m very impressed with it’s durability and believe that it will go on for a good while to come.

    For more details please visit: http://www.rab.uk.com

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