Saturday, 7 April 2012

Rab Latok Alpine Jacket Review


4 out of 5 stars.
I bought this great looking jacket in October just as the weather was deciding to get nasty. It would take over from my previous Rab Pinnacle jacket that had been a good reliable jacket, but was by then sadly needing replacing.
 It had come down to a few jackets that are popular on the market today, but the Rab Latok Alpine was the one which had taken my main interest. It looked aesthetically good for a start, it was a mountain jacket by nature, had good online reviews, and it was reduced in store at the time!

 I tried the jacket on and instantly it felt good, with its tough feeling 3 layer eVent fabric. I then put the hood up and for me, it was sold. The hood for me is the most important part of a jacket, it has to move with your head so you can see where you are going, and it’s got to be designed so it minimises rain lashing into your eyes. The Rab Latok Alpine’s hood is wired, is climbing helmet compatible and has the all-important draw cord at back of the hood to give you the required tightness to stop the thing blowing down in mountain wind!

The cuffs are fully adjustable, as you would expect using Velcro rather than that horrible plastic locking system you get on some jackets...
 The zips are an interesting feature, unlike with most jackets, rather than a storm flap on the outside of the jacket, the Latok Alpine has an internal storm flap with a waterproof front zip. I’ve never seen a zip designed like it before, it was tough to operate at first with its ‘rain proof’ plastic coating but it has eased up since...
So that’s all the jackets main features. But how has it performed over the last four months? Well read on…
 My first test for the jacket was a trip to Snowdonia, what a place to christen it, the weather on the first day was pretty awful too, wet and windy (see the Carnedd Llewelyn blog entry, http://fell-finder.blogspot.co.uk/2011/11/5-welsh-giants-29301011.html). On a climb up the side of Pen yr Ole Wen the rain got quite heavy. The jacket seemed to be holding up well, but when the trek was over there seemed to be some dampness on the arms of my fleece, but I put it down to sweat. However the two external pockets were soaked through, and unfortunately so was my phone, and wallet. An expensive trip indeed! Rab do realise this, and give a warning of this, yes a small label is inside the external pockets letting you know that any expensive items should be stored in the mesh lined internal pockets!
 The jacket has performed very well though. On Bleaklow in February (blog entry available to read, http://fell-finder.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/bleaklow-29112.html) it held up fantastically in the freezing temperatures and white out conditions. Also a bitingly cold wind was blowing across the Pennines that day, but it didn’t once penetrate the jacket. 
 The only time the jacket has truly failed me was on my last hike to Aran Fawddry (Britains highest most southerly mountain) (again see the blog entry http://fell-finder.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/aran-fawddry-on-very-grim-day.html) There was heavy fog hanging over that day and by the time the trek was over I was completely soaked through, in my view the jacket completely failed that day, this was even after treating it in Nikwax. I have also noticed rucksack abrasion on the lower part of the jacket too, the material does seem to have got significantly softer over time.
 So, overall after four months of use I would give the jacket four out of five stars. It looks great, it always gets a few stares when out, and it looks the part when taking on a peak somewhere. But the material is a bit flimsy feeling now, and if in heavy rain I would expect to get wet. At the end of the day though for the £190 I expected much better performance, and I’m thinking I would have been better purchasing a GORE-TEX lined jacket rather than eVent. But the jacket is light weight, easy to pack into a ruck sack and does seem to let the sweat out unlike GORE-TEX. So for now I’m sticking with it, I hope if you decide to buy one that it works well for what ever you put it through.
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