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Rab Momentum Jacket in eVent

Rab Momentum in Scotland
Rab Momentum in Scotland

From Gore-Tex to eVent

I’ve been wanting to upgrade my hiking shell and rain jacket from Gore-Tex Paclite to eVent fabric for some time, but I’ve had a difficult time finding a minimalist jacket from any of the US-based outdoor clothing manufacturers.

Last month, I finally found the perfect coat, the Rab Momentum Jacket. Rab is a well known Scottish gear manufacturer popular in Europe. They have very limited distribution here in the United States, but Backcountry.com now has a pretty good selection of their product line.

This Momentum is amazingly similar to my old shell, a Celestial Jacket (no longer manufactured) from Outdoor Research. Like the Celestial, it has two front napoleon pockets, but no side pockets. Napoleon pockets are great because the straps of your backpack don’t block access; side pockets are pointless on a hiking rain shell because your backpack’s hip belt makes them inaccessible.

The Momentum is similar to my Celestial in other important ways as well, including waterproof zippers, velcro sleeve closures, and a helmet compatible hood with wire brim. The hood has an elastic cord lock adjustment system at the back of the head and running through the hood to the sides of the collar. These, in combination with a billed cap, keep rain off my glasses.

The Momentum has two additional features that I really appreciate. The back of the jacket is slightly longer than the front, helping to prevent frost bite at the top of your crack when you bend over in very cold weather, and it lacks the side torso zips of the Celestial. In fact their are no pit zips or vents of any kind on the Momentum Jacket because the eVent fabric from which it is manufactured is more breathable than Gore-Tex, as reported by many other hikers.

Gear Testing Results

I’ve been testing the Momentum jacket in a variety of conditions for the past month from heavy sustained rain to very strenuous mountain climbs to assess it’s utility and breathability. Breathability is important because in the simplest case, dry = warm. It takes energy to evaporate sweat that would otherwise be used to regulate your own body temperature and keep you comfortable.

In terms of utility, the Rab Momentum Jacket is equivalent to my old Gore-Tex shell, which has virtually the same features and cut. Weight-wise, it is a bit heavier, weighing in at 12 oz in an XL or 1.8 oz heavier than my old shell, but I consider this an acceptable difference.

However, the difference in breathability is where the event-based Momentum shines. In high external humidity (heavy, sustained showers) and high internal humidity (long, steep winter climbs and postholing), I have not felt sweat buildup in my under-layers. I’m frankly astonished by that because I’m a sweater.

As long as I am wearing two layers, like a pair of Capilene 1 jerseys or a Techwick t-shirt and a Patagonia R1 Fleece, I stay high and dry, without the need to vent. In addition, I’ve also experienced a noticeable reduction in the amount of sweat build-up between my back and my backpack, and more comfort during rest breaks, when the pack comes off and ceases to act as an insulator in cold weather.

In warmer weather, the Momentum Jacket has proven to be breathable enough to be worn as a wind shell, something I could never do with my Paclite, except in cooler temperatures. This as been a longstanding hole in my gear system and obviates the need for me to carry an additional wind shell layer. Though less of an issue in the heavily wooded Northeastern US, wind is going to be a big factor in my upcoming hiking trip to northern Scotland in a few months, where there is relatively little vegetation above calf height. .

Though priced at a premium – $284 – I am very impressed with this coat and look forward to many years of hard use from it, year round.

Disclosure: The author owns this product and purchased it using their own funds.

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26 comments

  1. I'm using the Momentum – together with the Rab Drillium pants – since last year, and am very satisfied with those two pieces of kit. I'm sure your Momentum will come in handy in Scotland and on the AT!

  2. The new Rab Demand Pull-on interests me but I'm not sure it's breathable enough for SE Summer without some kind of pit ventilation. I'm also eyeballing the Marmot Super Mica and the MontBell Peak is always in the running until it's completely gone. A year or two ago I quit using a shell in the Summer until I can find something durable and breathable enough to prevent me getting soaked from the inside out.

  3. Unfortunately the drillium pants are unavailable in the US in anything but odd sizes. Like I said, Rab has distribution issues here. It's a shame because their gear is so good. I may have to do a little shopping when I get to Edinburgh after the Challenge. Instead of taking jeans to Moscow, I can bring Rab gear to the US.

  4. Chris – I can recall a day in Vermont on the Long Trail when it rained so much I didn't bother with a shell and got soaking wet because I was going to get soaking wet regardless of what I wore. However, when I got to a shelter, I got so cold, I had to get into my sleeping bag to warm up. I now always wear a shell of some sort in the rain to prevent evaporative cooling and retain my core warmth even if it means a sweat bath.

  5. I have the Drillium jacket, and the only criticism I have of it is the nasty scratchy velcro on the cuffs. I much prefer the little plastic snaps as used by Patagonia.

    Anyway, for even better ventilation, I roll the hood into the collar and wear a REI Watershed hat (also in eVent) to keep the rain off.

  6. Well, with Rab having bought ID you can hope that distribution issues will disappear in the near future!

  7. I honestly don't think that will help much. ID has the same distribution problems in the states.

  8. thanks for the review. Can you give your height/size and how the XL versus L is? I am 5'11'' and weigh 210 lbs. Thanks!

  9. We are very close in size, but I weigh a bit less. I'd get the XL so you can use some under-layers. I also use the napoleon pockets quite heavily for hats and gloves and a little extra girth helps. The L will be too small.

  10. Ever since you reviewed your jacket, I have been in want of one. I finally found one reduced and purchased last week. today I am reading BPL OR coverage and see that there is something more breathable than event. The Rab jacket looks just like the momentum – just the new material and huge price. I am wearing my Momentum for the first time today on a snowshoe, hope I am as happy as you have been.

    "Stretch Neo Jacket (17 ounces/482 g, US$365) for fall 2011, made of the new Polartec NeoShell, a new waterproof-breathable fabric that is at least twice as breathable than eVENT"

  11. I'm getting disgusted with the prices of technical gear and moving to the purchasing paradigm I use for buying computers…which is to buy models that have been discontinued at about one third of the original price. That said, I hope you like the jacket. I have to wash some melted chocolate out of one of the pockets before the bears wake up again in spring.

  12. Being new to bping I think I am already in that mode. When I have purchased good clothing , on discount because it is not the latest year's, it is red. Nobody must like the color red :-)

  13. I bought the Rab Momentum 2 years ago in Scotland and I used it for skiing in the Alps and as a light rain cover for typically rainy days here in Germany. Now I want to go hiking with medium level weight of up to 20 pounds. how much load did you had in your backpack? do you think it's strong enough for hinking?

  14. It's fine for hiking. I use mine year-round. Check out any of my gear lists from the past 18 months and you can see the loads I'm carrying – mostly between 9 and 17 pounds.

  15. as far as durability i dont believe it should be used primarily as a heavy pack shell. the three ply event is not reinforced in a brasive areas and thats where my momentum keep wetting out. even after tech wash and tx direct i have to reapply the dwr to the shoulder areas often. consider maybe the westcomb cruiser lt hoody. also its made in north america.

  16. I haven't had any abrasion issues and I've worn this coat pretty hard as a primary shell in all 4 seasons. The DWR is however starting to give under repeated washings and I'll probably replace this coat with something lighter next time around. Montbell and Montane will probably be at the top of my list.

  17. Philip,

    What models, specifically, from Montbell and Montane, are you looking at?

  18. I'm in the "I wish stage", not the shopping stage. Do you have any suggestions?

  19. I have a similar eVent parka, the REI Kimtah. What I really like about the Momentum is that the pockets are chest pockets. I'm assuming they are netting lined and can be used for venting.

    I'd like to see REI move the parka's hip-high pockets up to the chest and lose the Napolean pocket. To use them for venting in the rain chest pockets need the zipper flaps of the present lower pockets, not the waterproof, unflapped pockets of the RAB Momentum or the REI's Napolean pocket. I have high, flapped chest pockets (& no pit zips) on my Cabela's PacLite parka and they vent very well.

  20. The Momentum napoleon pockets are not mesh and don't vent. I store gear in them that must stay dry like gloves, hats, and my camera when it rains.

  21. Could any tell my about the sizes of rab jacket? Are the slim cut?

    Edward. Sweden.

  22. Edward – they have a moderately slim cut, although I am pudgy around the middle and mine fits fine.Make sure you size up though if you plan to wear a lot of layers underneath – but this is true of any coat.

  23. Thank you.

    Rabs size chart is stupid. Usually you get a a range between; 42 to 45 inches, for example (like patagonias for large). But in rabs case they just say that large is 42 inches 109 cm, for example. What does that mean? A. That i can have a chest size up to 42 inches? or B. around 42 inches? Or what?

    Edward, Sweden.

  24. Similar to the RAB Momentum jacket is the RAB Bergen. I picked one up recently on closeout at a very good price. Very well constructed, it weighs a bit more than the momentum @ 18.2 oz (size Large), and uses 3 layer eVent. Hoping it will be a solid 3 season hiking shell (Fall, Winter, Spring), as I already own a summer rain jacket which weighs (and probably breathes) a bit less. Used it the first time last weekend when summiting a 2500ft peak in Vermont. It did a nice job of blocking the relentless wind…keeping me from cooling down too fast.

  25. Philip, Do you still like and wear your Momentum jacket? I am interested to see about its long term durability. I see that this jacket is still available for about $205 from UltralightOutdoorGear in Great Britain.

    • I do, but I use it as my bushwhacking raincoat now. It has about a dozen tenancious tape patches on it. But, man I used the heck out of the thing! Great coat, although you can do lighter. The breathability is so-so, of course, like all wonder fabrics.

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