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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets and Vests > Rab Drillium Jacket > Test Report by Russell Curry
RAB DRILLIUM JACKET
Test series by Russell Curry
copyrighted Logo from RAB website
Initial Report - February 11, 2008
Field Report - April 24th, 2008
Long Term Report - June 26th, 2008
Name: Russell Curry
Height: 6'0" (1.83 m)
Weight:: 182 lbs (83 kg)
City, State, Country: Orange, Texas, USA
Backpacking Background:Product Identification & Technical Details:
My hiking experiences began while stationed near the
German Alps in the Army in 1966. I have hiked in many countries
across the world as well as most states in the US. I hike
in all seasons, in temperatures as low as 5 F (-15 C) to as high as 110
F (43 C), in rain, shine and snow and from desert to forest to
mountain. My pack weights vary from 25 lbs (11 kg) to 10 lbs (5
kg). I frequently bike over road and mountain, and kayak and
raft when possible.
Item: RAB Drillium Jacket
Year of Manufacture: 2007
MSRP: Not indicated on web site
Listed Weight: 350 g (12.3 oz)
Weight as Received: 352 g (12.4 oz)
Fabric: eVent® 3 layer storm fabric
Colors: Amber, Black, Indigo
Sizes: S - XXL
Warranty: Repair or replace at manufacturers discretion
Laundry: Frequent washing required. Machine wash using liquid detergent.
Rinse twice, hang dry. Steam iron warm to rejuvenate water
repellent finish. Do not use bleach or fabric softener. Do not dry
Tested Color & Size: Black, large size ordered based on the sizing charts on the RAB website, but I
found the jacket to be more snug in the chest than what I am used
to. My chest inflates quite a bit when exercising, and I have had problems in the past
with jacket and shirt fits. The jacket was exchanged for an XL size that fits me much better.
The RAB Drillium Jacket is a short cut, lightweight, multi-sport jacket made from eVent® 3 layer fabric. It features a roll away wire peak hood, separate protective collar, water resistant front zip and internal storm flap, 2 outer self draining pockets, and 1 laminated inner pocket. The lightweight jacket has minimal pack size and maximum breathability, and has been designed to provide comfort and protection during summer mountain activities. The Drillium uses totally waterproof fabric to achieve maximum breathability even during strenuous exercise.
The jacket arrived with 3 hang tags, in a clear plastic bag. The hang tags cover details on the fabric, RAB quality assurance and warranty, and a tag indicating the features of the jacket. I must say the jacket reeks of quality design and fabrication. The seams are extremely tight with very fine stitching and finish. The two exterior pockets have reinforcement at the corners. Both exterior pockets have zippers, and even have a little pouch at the top for the slider to slip into to seal them from the weather. The inside pocket is mesh with a zipper. There is a laundry tag sewn onto the inside mesh pocket. The exterior zippers are water resistant, with nylon pull tabs. The zippers are of the water resistant variety. The sleeves are longer than normal and have hook and loop type ties. The tail extends longer in the back, and there are pull strings for the tail as well. The collar can be folded or will stand up. Inside the collar is a wired peak hood. It folds nicely into the collar when not needed. The pouch that contains the rolled up peak hood has hook and loop type closures. The wired peak hood contains 3 drawstrings, one on each side for closure and one at the rear to adjust the angle of the hood. The front zipper will zip entirely to the top of the collar.
The black jacket is actually two colors, not evident on the RAB website. The main fabric is a dark charcoal, and the fabric at the sides and extending under the arms is a lighter charcoal.
End of the sleeves with the ties. The sleeves are longer and will actually completely cover my hands.
The stand up collar containing the wired peak hood. Notice that the zipper will zip all the way to the top of the collar.
Great feature, zippers are well fabricated and smooth to operate.
The back of the jacket is cut longer than the front, and there are drawstrings on each side, (not evident in this photo)
The inside pocket on the jacket, with the laundry tag. The pocket has a zipper as well.
This is the peak hood unrolled. It has 3 drawstrings. It rolls up and fits nicely into the collar.
The jacket as it appears on the RAB website. Image courtesy of RAB.
I intend to use this shell a lot during the next several months, especially on my bike. It was designed with bike riding in mind, and I ride on average 60 to 80 miles (97 to 129 km) per week minimum. I will also be using it on a few shorter hikes with my outdoor clubs. I do not have any severe winter conditions in my area, so I expect to be wearing this shell for every activity outdoors over the next several months.
Based on the chart sizes on the RAB website, I initially ordered a large size. However, once I received the jacket, I found it a bit restrictive across my chest, especially if I were to have a cycling jersey on. I suspect that the problem is that while my chest measures for the large size, my lung capacity has increased from a lot of activity, especially bike riding. When I bike, hike or exercise, I breathe deeply and my chest expands a bit more than normal. I am not that muscular, and I have had this problem with other clothing once in a great while. I was able to send the jacket back and get the extra large size, which is a much better fit, and it allows me to easily wear my cycling jacket under the shell.
I am very impressed with the quality, design, fabrication, features and fabric of this jacket. I am excited about putting it to the test of a good long bike ride and for other strenuous outdoor activities. It appears to be extremely well made, loaded with features, lightweight and comfortable.
Dislikes: None at this time.
I used the Rab Drillium jacket for 4 bike rides that totaled approximately 280 miles, (450 km). They were all early morning rides in temperatures ranging from 25 to 45 F, (-4 to 7 C). Wind chills based on my average cycle speed under these temperatures ranged from 15 to 26 F (-9 to -3 C). I also used the shell on a 3 week hike and bike trip to Europe. These hikes were all day hikes, with elevations ranging from 3300 to 6000 ft, (1000 to 1800 m), with temperatures ranging from 25 to 50 F, (-4 to 10 C). There were 12 hikes total. Pack weights averaged 12 to 15 lbs, (5 to 7 kg). One of these hikes was in light rain and mist.
Cycling - under the conditions for this test, I always wear a light shell over my cycling jersey. This jacket has performed exceptionally well for my cycling. I started with the jacket zipped up to near the top of my chest, with the collar upright. The jacket was comfortable to wear with my helmet, I had the collar up and it did not chafe my neck or cause me any other discomfort. The first few miles of my rides are warm-ups and the shell performed as expected to keep me from becoming chilled or too cool. Even as I began to heat up, I was still very comfortable. The breathability of the fabric worked as designed at these lower speeds. Once I was up to my normal speeds of 18 to 20 mph, (29 to 32 kph) I had to unzip the jacket to remain at my comfort level. That is when I encountered my first problem with the jacket. Maybe due to the newness of the jacket, I found it a bit dangerous to ride at my normal speed and unzip the jacket at the same time. As anyone who rides knows, stopping for gear adjustment once speeds are reached is the last thing on my mind. I was able to unzip the jacket after working with it a bit. That brought another problem. I had put my energy bars in the pockets of the jacket, and found it impossible to unzip either pocket with one hand while riding with the jacket completely unzipped. I don't know why I decided to zip up the pocket with the bar in it, but did so and was unable to recover the bar without stopping. Even so, I like this shell so much better than anything else I have used that the zipper problems are a non-issue. On my subsequent rides, I left the zipper only up a bit and found this to be more suitable than with it up high anyway, since I heat up fairly quickly on the bike. I left the pockets unzipped, but put the energy bars in my jersey as I should have done the first time. The inside mesh pocket worked well for my Ipod and cellphone. I still did not stay as cool as if riding without the jacket, especially as more miles clicked away, but the jacket did an excellent job of providing me with a shell that did not overheat me to the point that I had to stop to remove it. My one regret about ordering the color of the jacket, (black) is that it does nothing to alert drivers of my presence due to its dark color. In hindsight, the amber or orange would have served me better from a safety perspective for cycling.
Hikes - along with other members of one of my hiking clubs, we spent three weeks in Madeira, France, Morocco, Spain and Italy doing day hikes and one great bike ride in France outside of Nice. Before we started these hikes, we were treated to a sailing near Funchal, Madeira. It was supposed to be a trip highlight, and turned into an unforgettable experience. I had the shell on due to the cold and windy conditions on deck. As evening approached, so did a force 8 gale that caught us somewhat by surprise. I can say from first-hand experience that this shell was exceptional in its protection against the wind and spray from the rough seas. After realizing we were going to be alright, most of us chose to stay on deck for the ride. I had the hood on, the sleeves closed, and the jacket zipped all the way to my chin. I was very well protected and stayed dry and as warm as could be expected in those seas.
I only wore a wicking tee and the Rab shell for all of my hikes. Even though some of the hikes started off very cool, between the light pack and the steepness of some of the trails, I would heat up fairly quickly. As long as I stayed at a deliberate pace, I stayed comfortable, but on those hikes where a lot of exertion was required, I heated up and had to remove the jacket to vent. I feel if the jacket perhaps had a mesh or vented underarm it would enhance its venting qualities. That being said, the jacket served me well on my bike, at sea and on my hikes. The closures on the sleeves work very well, the zippers work almost too well, (for opening single handed anyway), and the pockets served me well on my hikes and on my bike once I figured out what to put in them.
I experienced light rain and mist on one hike in Madeira, and the jacket again did a good job of protecting me. I tried using the hood, but found it somewhat awkward and I could never get it to completely stay arranged as I wanted. The hood feature worked great on the sea, but when hiking and constantly looking around for footing I found it be be a distraction. I also am not a "hood" person for any hiking clothing since I feel it limits my side vision, but when standing about in the rain or wind it worked very well.
The RAB Drillium jacket is well thought out, fits well, and provides me with great protection on my bike and hikes. I like its breathability, the features on the sleeves, the pockets, and the high neck collar. I am less impressed by the hood, since I was not able to get it to work very well on my hikes, although it did a great job when exposed to the elements in a somewhat static situation. For summer mountain type conditions, it is a great shell to have on my back when hiking or cycling. I think some type of underarm vent may improve its venting features even more. I have not worn anything better, and my plan is to continue to use it under the conditions it was designed for. It has been durable, I have seen no fabric or stitching failures. I have yet to find any weep holes in the pockets. I dumped a glass of water in one of them and have been unable to see it coming through the fabric. For my testing, the claim that the outer pockets are "self draining" has not proven to be accurate.
I continued to use this jacket for my early morning bike rides until it became too warm weather wise. I ride every day for at least 28 miles (45 km) per trip, many times more. The temperatures have ranged from 45 F to 65 F, (7 C to 18 C). A few bike rides were in light rain and mist. I have not used it for any hikes since returning from my European trip in early April. I have used this jacket for over 30 bike rides ranging from 2 to 8 hours in length, of varying distances.
The jacket really stands out for me on my bike. It is comfortable over my cycling jerseys, and provides a lot of protection from cool, wet weather. It has done an outstanding job of keeping me warm and dry in moderately cold temperatures. As well, it is waterproof and has protected me on the occasional bike ride when it began raining. I have not experienced any failures of the jacket features or stitching. I have machine washed the jacket twice following laundry instructions and left it to dry overnight on a rack. I have not used an iron on it as I have not yet felt a need to press it. I like that I have a secure place for my Ipod and cell phone as well as a couple of snack bars in the jacket pockets. I am somewhat comfortable using the hood in very rainy conditions when hiking, but not so when cycling. I am not a "hood" person by any means, so will only use one if in a downpour. The ability to fold away the hood into the jacket is a big plus. It is by far the most breathable shell jacket I have ever worn. It has enabled me to cycle longer in much cooler temperatures than I have been able to in the past. The high, somewhat stiff collar has worked well when cycling and when the temperatures are on the very cool side. I have not experienced any discomfort from the collar.
I really like this jacket, the way it fits, the features, the protection it affords me and the style. It is loaded with features from the roll away wired hood to the cinch cords at the waist, the hook and loop closures on the sleeves, the two outside zippered pockets, the inside zippered mesh pocket and the high collar. The jacket has performed exceptionally well under all conditions I have put it through. I will definitely make this jacket a key part of my outdoor wardrobe. I have a trip coming up next year that allows me to camp on the Antarctica ice shelf and expect this shell to be a key part of my gear for this camping and hiking opportunity.
This concludes my report for the RAB Drillium Jacket.
Thanks to RAB and Backpackgeartest for this opportunity.
Read more gear reviews by Russell Curry
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