You don’t often think of a down jacket as being one of the heavier items in your ski touring pack but for some every gram counts and for others, it’s more about the volume that it takes up. The new Rab Zero G Jacket is a lightweight minimalist down jacket that weighs little more than 300 grams and packs down slightly larger than that of a can of soda. While the Zero G Jacket is light and compact it doesn’t forego many nice-to-have features like hand warmer pockets or an adjustable insulated hood with a flexible polymer brim. Rab did do away with the hem adjustment in favour of an integrated elastic hem, however. This saves on weight and complexity and since the cut is slim by design the hem adjustment is not really required. This trim cut also means that the Zero G Jacket can easily be worn over base layers or as a mid layer in addition to the traditional external layer.
Pertex Quantum GL 7d fabric is used in conjunction with 1,000 fill power RDS down, high-tech indeed.
The elasticated wrist cuffs use a stretch woven material and are a nice design accent in addition to proving durability and the ability to keep the weather out. The same can be said about the insulated baffle on the zipper, it’s there to keep the cold out and the warmth in. The jacket itself utilizes a stitch through construction which is not as warm as box construction, but does use less material and keeps costs down. A Pertex 7 denier Quantum fabric is used for the body of the jacket since it’s incredibly light but also resistant to tears.
The Zero G’s 1000 fill power down insulation is RDS Certified (Responsible Down Standard) which means that it adheres to the highest possible animal welfare and safety standards. RDS also means that consumers can trace the down in their jacket along Rab’s supply chain from start to finish and rest assured that it’s all up to snuff. For those of you who are not familiar with ‘fill power’, it’s simply a measure of volume. 1000 fill-power down for example, means that one ounce of this down would fill up 1000 cubic inches of space. Typically the higher the fill power, the warmer and lighter the garment would be. A 1000 fill-power down has more air contained within the down than lower fill power down and is therefore, warmer since it’s the air that’s actually insulating you. Down of this quality (1,000 fill power) is very expensive and rare, but provides an unsurpassed weight-to-warmth ratio.
The only other down jacket we’ve ever reviewed with 1000 fill power is the Montbell Plasma 1000 Alpine Down Parka, that review can be read here.
An adjustable alpine cut hood is included as are many other nice-to-haves.
Accented zipper pulls and zipper garage.
Every feature of the Zero G Jacket is designed to be minimalist, however, Rab didn’t skimp on some of the niceties in order to save weight. Things like the elasticized stretch-woven cuffs are a functional design element that adds to the jackets overall appeal and also feels really comfortable against your skin. The flexible polymer peak is another nice-to-have and means the hood won’t sag down over your face on those stormy days. Being able to adjust the hood with the velcro adjustment located on the back of the hood is also a must-have feature to ensure you maintain a snug fit and keep the cold out. When fully zipped up it’s nice to see Rab placed a soft fleece lining along the inside of the upper zipper where it comes in contact with your face, again a nice touch that adds weight but would be missed if it was excluded.
I’ve been wearing the Rab Zero G Jacket on several ski and backcountry adventures and have been impressed first and foremost at how light and comfortable it is. While it’s not as warm as a box construction down jacket (whose seams do not go right through the fabric but instead use internal fabric baffles) and it’s not really meant to be as this is more of a mid puffy, where extreme warmth is not needed. If you’re after a down jacket that’s not dual purpose as a mid and external layer, and is a little warmer (and yes bulkier) then the Rab Infinity Endurance Jacket may be more to your liking.
On the down side, I do have concerns about how fragile the face fabric is on the Zero G Jacket. It’s designed to stand up to some abuse and being Pertex Quantum GL I’m confident it will do this, but at only 7 denier it surely won’t survive tree skiing or other abrasive adventures—so go gently with it. Luckily Rab provides a Quantum GL Stuff sack to keep the Zero G protected while buried in the bottom of your pack. Again a simple feature that only makes the value and quality of this jacket shine through.
If you’re looking for a super warm and compact down jacket for ski touring, alpine climbing or winter adventure then the Rab Zero G Jacket is one you should consider, that is if you have the budget for it.
Sizes: S, M, L, XL ,XXL
Weight: 310g / 11oz
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