Rab’s new Neo Guide Jacket and Pants use the amazingly breathable Polartec Neoshell fabric that keep you dry and comfy. This fabric combined with a minimal design keeps weight down and packability up. This kit forms an ideal backcountry skiing dynamic duo and is therefore awarded our top honour of Gear of the Year!
The Backcountry Skiing Canada Team.
The Rab Neo Guide Jacket and Pants are a new hard shell combo designed specifically for the alpine sports of backcountry skiing, climbing and mountaineering. While their respective feature list may look extensive (below), Rab only integrated features that really matter, keeping the jacket and pants light and compact.
On both the jacket and pants two weights of Polartec Neoshell fabric are used with the heavier weight providing needed reinforcement in the shoulders, elbows, cuffs and hips. Neoshell is a highly breathable 3-layer fabric with superior stretch compared to other waterproof/breathable fabrics, allowing for a greater range of motion required in mountain pursuits like ski touring and climbing.
The new Neo Guide Jacket replaces the original Rab Stretch Neo Jacket. The Neo Guide uses a tougher Neoshell fabric but the weight still comes in at a respectable 620 grams thanks to it’s limited features. A helmet compatible hood with three point adjustability and wire brim ensures you can keep the weather out. If you decide you need to cool down in a hurry, the large built in pit zips take care of that. Two external pack and harness friendly napoleon pockets and one internal mesh and zipped pocket limit the bulk of too many pockets and zippers but provide adequate space to stow your stuff.
This simplified design is carried over to the Neo Guide pants as well, with just the features you need like 3/4 waterproof side zips, double snap closure, internal snow gaiter and Cordura kick patches. To ensure that the Neo Guide pants don’t ride down under the weight of a pack there are built in belt loops, elasticized waist bands and removable suspenders. While the feature list is lean it’s all you need for true active mountain adventures… and nothing more.
Rab Neo Guide Jacket
- Polartec NeoShell 3L fabric with stretch, heavier weight fabric on shoulders, elbows, cuff and hips for increased durability
- Helmet-compatible hood, wired peak and tricot lined collar with roll-down Velcro tab
- 2-way YKK VISLON AquaGuard front zip with dual internal storm flap system
- 2 YKK AquaGuard zipped Napoleon pockets
- Venting underarm YKK AquaGuard® pit zips
- 1 internal open mesh pocket
- 1 internal zipped pocket
- Velcro cuffs, hem drawcord
- Reflective trim
- Fit: Regular
Two Napoleon pockets, as on most Rab jackets these pockets are huge!
Cuff adjustments, of course.
As you can see, the hood rolls up and tucks out of the way.
Three points of adjustability help the hood fit any size head.
An inide stash pocket and a secure zippered pocket provide space for things that would otherwise go in the hand warmer pockets that the Neo Guide jacket lacks.
Even though the Polartech Neoshell fabric is far more breathable than Gore-Tex, the Rab Neo Guide Jacket comes complete with pit-zips.
Rab Neo Guide Pants
- Polartec NeoShell 3L fabric with stretch, mid-weight fabric on front upper and back yoke for reduced bulk and ease of movement
- YKK AquaGuard zip fly
- Double-snap closure at tricot lined, part elasticated waistband
- Belt loops and removable, adjustable braces
- Key loop inside pocket
- 2 YKK AquaGuard hand warmer pockets with external flaps
- 2 YKK AquaGuard 3/4 side zips with with dual internal storm flap system and 3 zip pullers for venting
- Knee articulation
- Cordura fabric kick patches
- Split internal snow gaiter at hem with gripper elastic and under-boot cord attachment eyelets
- Hem drawcord
- Reflective trim
- Fit: Regular
An elasticized waist helps keep your pants in place and snug.
Double snaps and waterproof fly.
Suspender and belt options give you plenty of flexibility depending upon your preferred way to keep the pants up and in place.
The cross-over suspenders prevent them from sliding off your shoulders which is always a real pain.
Two hand warmer pockets on the pant take the place of those missing on the jacket.
3/4 side zips enables you to dump large amounts of heat when touring.
A large gaitor and adjustable cuff ensure snow stays out.
Good sized scuff guard for keeping ski-cuts to a minimum.
The Rab Neo Guide Jacket and Pants have nailed the balance between features and compact design. Far too many shells these days say they are designed for backcountry skiing but have every feature under the sun included so they become bulky and take up far too much room in your pack which is where they undoubtedly spend 90% of their time. Rab streamlined the Neo Guide jacket and pants and used the lightweight waterproof/breathable Polartec Neoshell head to foot so there is plenty of stretch and natural range of motion while also being fully waterproof and also more breathable than Gore-Tex and eVent fabrics.
The Neo Guide kit is well designed and fits like a glove with plenty of room for mid layers underneath. The jacket and pant combo look great when worn together; they compliment each other without giving you that matching ski suit feel that I dread with some other brands.
While there are no handwarmer pockets the two chest and internal pockets provide plenty of room to stash your essential items and I found the pant pockets were great for keeping your hands out of the weather while idle. The adjustable hood with wire brim and pit zips are about the only two other items I require for a backcountry skiing jacket and the Neo Guide jacket has them both. I am able to forgo a powder skirt and other unnecessary features in the name of packability and weight savings.
After a few months of ripping the local resort and the surrounding Selkirk Mountain backcountry I can say that this is one of the best backcountry jacket and pant combos out there. The simple design and quality constructions are a trademark of Rab and the Neo Guide kit is no exception.
If you are looking for more reviews of shells that use Polartec Neoshell be sure to check out our review of the
First Ascent Neoteric Jacket, the Mountain Equipment Arclight Jacket, the Marmot Nabu Jacket, and the Jottnar Bergelmir Jacket and Vanir Pants.
If you are interested in other Rab reviews then be sure to read our review of the Rab Latok Jacket and Rab Latok Tour pants as well as the Rab Scimitar Soft Shell Jacket and Pants and the Rab Infinity Down Jacket.
Rab Neo Guide Jacket
Price: $530 CAN
Colours: Shark, Maya, Pear
Size: S - XXL
Weight: 620g / 1.36lb (Large)
Rab Neo Guide Pants
Price: $425 CAN
Colours: Shark, Maya
Size: S - XXL
Weight: 635g / 1.4lb (Large, excluding braces)
- Just enough features for the backcountry skier without being bulky and busy.
- Colours are not fluorescent but still perfect for standing out in the backcountry and for photos.
- Polartec Neoshell is the best waterproof/breathable fabric with plenty of stretch.
- Massive pockets on both pants and jacket as always for Rab products.
- Large scuff guards on the Neo Guide pants limit cuts from rocks and skis
- Neo Guide Jacket has an internal stash pocket and zippered pocket
- Adjustable wire brim on hood
- The Neo Guide Jacket can fit tight in the shoulders so be sure to try before you buy.
- Pricey but this is high end gear with the best fabrics and design.
- A full side zip on the Neo Guide pants would facilitate easy on/off with ski boots still on.
- It would be nice if the two tone green on the jacket was a little more two tone.
This is only our opinion. Do you disagree? Did we miss something? Are we totally out to lunch? Join the discussion in the forums here, and let us know what you think. People like/dislike gear for different reasons so chime in and we'll get a well-rounded evaluation.
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