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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > Rab Drillium Jacket > Test Report by Jason Boyle

Rab Drillium Jacket

Test Series

Initial Report - January 7, 2008
Field Report - March 24, 2008
Long Term Report - May 27, 2008

Cross Country skiing in Commonwealth Basin

Tester Information:
Name: Jason Boyle
Age: 30
Gender: Male
Height: 5' 6"/ 1.68 m
Weight: 180 lb/ 82 kg
Chest: 42"/ 107 cm
Neck: 16"/ 41 cm
Sleeve: 28"/ 71 cm (from the middle of my chest to my wrist)
Email address: c4jc "at" hotmail "dot" com
City, State, Country: Snoqualmie, Washington, U. S.

Backpacking Background:
I have been camping and backpacking for about 19 years. My introduction to the outdoors started with the Boy Scouts of America and has continued as an adult. I have hiked mostly in the Southeastern and Northeastern United States. I am generally a lightweight hiker, but will carry extras to keep me comfortable. I currently reside in the Pacific Northwest and spend most of my time hiking and backpacking in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, but I can be found exploring the other wild areas of Washington!

Product Information:

Manufacturer: Rab
Model: Drillium Jacket
Sizes: S-XXL available, Large received
Color: Amber (orange), also available in Indigo and Black.
Year of Manufacture: 2007
URL: www.rab.uk.com
Listed weight: 12.4 oz (350 g) no corresponding size listed
Measured weight: 12.8 oz (361 g) for a large
Fabric content: 66% Polyamide, 33% ePTFE
Seams: Taped
MSRP: Not Available
Country of Manufacture: Vietnam
Hood detail

Product Description:
The Drillium jacket is described by Rab as a “short cut, lightweight, and multi sport jacket made from eVent 3 layer fabric.” The outer shell material is slick and slightly crinkly with a visible ripstop weave in the fabric. The inner liner is a softer fabric without the ripstop weave. All seams on the jacket are taped including the outer pockets. There are two zippered outer pockets that are located high on the chest of the jacket and one smaller interior mesh pocket that has a fabric loop to attach keys to. Rab mentions that the two outer pockets are self draining, which would mean to me that they have a drain hole to the outside to the jacket but that is not the case. Each interior corner of the pocket is reinforced with a round piece of black tape. The sleeve cuffs are closed by a hook and loop fastener, and there is a water resistant zipper with a nice long zipper pull. One interesting aspect of the zipper is that the zipper pull is on the left side of the zipper track instead of on the right side like my other jackets. Not sure if this is an UK custom, but it threw me off at first. Rab says the hem of the jacket is cut short but there is a little drop on the rear of the jacket that covers my backside and there are two toggles to tighten the jacket at the hem to keep snow and wind out. The collar of the jacket is higher than most other jackets and when zipped up completely covers my mouth up to my nose. The hood can be rolled up into the collar which is closed by three small hook and loop fasteners. The hood is quite large and had a nice wire stiffened brim and can be adjusted by toggles on either side of the hood and a toggle on the back to reduce volume.

Initial Report – January 7, 2008

Snowshoeing around Ollalie Lake

Initial Impressions:
I have heard a lot of information over the past several years about eVent and in my seemingly never ending search for a waterproof and breathable jacket; I have to say I have anxiously waited for this jacket to arrive. It arrived in Amber, a bright orange, not the yellowish color it appeared on the website, but I am happy with the orange since it stands out against the snow. The jacket is actually two-tone with a dark grey on the sides and under the arms. I ordered a large and it fits me well, though the sleeves are a bit long, but the hook and loop closures keep the sleeves from covering my hands. I would say the fit is semi athletic. There is room to layer a couple of base layers underneath the jacket but not a puffy down jacket.

The jacket appears to be well constructed with no loose threads and complete coverage of the seam tape. Small details like zipper pulls and the raised outer pockets show that the layout of the jacket was well thought out. The cleaning instructions for the jacket are fairly simple – “Machine wash warm with liquid detergent. Secure all zippers and closures. Rinse Twice, Hang Dry. Steam iron warm to rejuvenate the water repellant finish. Do not use bleach or fabric softener. Do not dry clean. There is also a statement in all caps – “FOR OPTIMUM PERFORMANCE FREQUENT WASHING IS REQUIRED.” This is different from most waterproof jackets which I try to wash as little as possible.

Field Report March 24, 2008

Summary:
Overall I am very happy with the Rab Drillium jacket. It has shrugged off light rain and snow with no problem and has actually dried off quickly once the precipitation has stopped. The chest pockets are placed high enough to be used with a hip belt on and the hood is large enough to fit over a variety of headwear though I have not tried it with a helmet yet. The breathability is better than any other jacket I have worn, though I am still able to overpower the breathability in temperatures near freezing and above except in really windy weather.

Field Conditions:
I have used the jacket on 9 trips for a total of 10 days over the past two months. I have used the jacket on a wide variety of trips – 2 snowshoeing trips, a cross country ski trip and an overnight backpacking trip. These trips took place near Snoqualmie Pass, Washington. I also took three alpine ski trips – Mt Baker and Crystal Mountain ski resorts in Washington and Snowbasin ski resort in Utah. I have also used the jacket during two day hikes in the foothills of the Cascades. I have worn the jacket during light rain and snow and the occasional sunny day. I have experience really windy conditions and temperatures have ranged from 0 F to 45 F (-17 C to 7 C) and elevations ranged from sea level to over 7000’ (2134 m).

Report:
I am happy with the performance of the Rab Drillium thus far. It has performed well in a variety of situations and is quickly earning a place as my go to winter shell. Before I go much further, I want to make one correction from my product description in my initial report. I said I couldn’t find the drain holes in the outer pockets. Well I finally found them. They are super small holes that drain onto the outside of the jacket.

With any shell jacket I am concerned with durability. Between hiking off trail and falling while skiing or snowshoeing there were plenty of opportunities for the jacket to get damaged. However, the Drillium shows no sign of wear from any of my escapades. The hook and loop cuffs, hem toggles, and zippers still operate as they did when the jacket was brand new.

I also look at how useful the jacket is during my adventures. Like I mentioned earlier this jacket is very versatile. It sheds wind well, and though I haven’t had the chance to test the jacket in a heavy downpour, it has performed well in light rain and snow. The jacket is very breathable, but I found that I still break a sweat while hiking in temperatures near freezing and warmer. On one trip, I was able to comfortably wear the jacket, a short sleeve wicking t shirt, and gloves in 25 F (-4 C) temperatures all day, only putting on a insulating jacket during rest breaks. Most trips I would start out with the jacket on and then take it off after ten or so minutes once I was warmed up.

Snowshoeing with the Rab Drillium

The jackets features seem to be well thought and out and have functioned well over the past couple of months. I like the high zippers on the chest pockets that allow me easy access even while wearing a backpack. The inner mesh pocket is the perfect place for my iPod and snacks that I want to keep warm. The high collar is another nice feature. I went on several windy hikes and it was nice to be able to zip the collar all the way up and bury my mouth in the soft fleece to block the wind. I do find that I have to finagle with the fleece zipper flap to get it in place over the zipper, but it is just a minor annoyance.

There are a couple of areas for improvement. I would like to see more core venting options. I know the eVent is breathable, but I would like to see either pit zips or mesh chest pockets. Even with the entire front of the jacket zipped open I still sweat. Second, I would like to see a better wire brim on the hood. It is a bit small and doesn’t really stay shaped.

Long Term Report – May 27, 2008

Summary:
I have been extremely happy with this jacket! It has shed snow, rain, and wind with no problem. The durability and quality of the jacket has been superb – it still looks brand new. The overall layout of the jacket is superb. It is the most breathable jacket that I have ever tested, but I guess my body generates too much heat because I still overpowered the breathability of this jacket.

Field Conditions:
I have used the jacket for 8 more days since the field report. I took one three day backpacking/snowshoeing trip in the North Cascades and five day hikes in the foothills of the Cascades. Elevations ranged from 800’ to 4000’ (244 m to 1218 m), temperatures ranged from 24 F to 50 F (-4 C to 10 C). I experienced heavy snow squalls during my backpacking trip and during one of my day hikes I had heavy rain, blowing snow, followed by more heavy rain, and finally sunshine.

Report:
Four months of testing and the Rab Drillium has earned a permanent place in my gear closet. It has performed well in every facet of my testing. Nothing is perfect but this jacket is pretty close. As I stated previously I examined the jacket for durability, usefulness, and waterproofness/breathability.

The durability of the jacket has been really good. No ripped seams or tape that is coming undone. The hook and loop fasteners are still in like new condition and all the elastic on the hem closure and hood is still stretchy. The jacket is thin and if held up to a light I can easily see through it. When I did this I noticed one spot on the right shoulder where a little more light was coming through. There isn’t a full hole but it looks like one of the layers is missing. I think I know when this happened. One night I went out to a bonfire on the beach near Ocean Shores, Washington and there were quite a few embers flying around from our fire that night. I was constantly brushing off embers so my guess is either I missed an ember or didn’t get to it quickly enough. Either way, the damage is my fault instead of a manufacturing issue from Rab.

Super Rab

The jacket is well laid out. I especially like the placement of the pockets. I actually use my pockets to carry snacks, maps, whatever, and my usual complaint is that I cannot get to the pockets while wearing a backpack, but these I can. The high collar has been good at keeping wind and rain out. The athletic cut of the jacket moved well with my and didn’t restrict my movement though I have not done any scrambling with the jacket yet. The zipper being on the opposite side has taken some getting used to but now seems second nature. The waterproof zippers are easy to zip and have not gotten snagged even once over the test period. I still have not used the hood over a helmet, my spring mountaineering trips have not materialized, but depending on the weather situation I may use the jacket on an upcoming trip to Rainier and if so will report back on the usage with a helmet.

During the last two months, I finally had the opportunity to put the jacket through some rough weather and I am glad to report it did fine! While venturing towards Hannegan Pass in the North Cascades I encountered off and on snow showers that were dumping around 2” (5 cm) of snow a day. The jacket shed the snow easily and didn’t seem to get very wet. Since I was ascending most of the day, I was able to wear the jacket with a t shirt underneath and gloves. I put on a puffy jacket underneath it during rest breaks for extra warmth. The second really spectacular weather event took place on Tiger Mountain in the foothills of the Cascades. I was about an hour into my hike when it started to rain just lightly at first but picked up pretty quickly. It then turned to snow, and almost instantly to white out conditions. It was crazy, after about 45 min of whiteout conditions it went back to rain then after about 15 minutes the sun came out. Crazy Washington weather! The jacket did fine sloughing off rain and snow with no problem. The high collar helped keep out the blowing snow and the hood kept the elements off of my ballcap. The high zip helped keep the hood in place so I didn’t have to use the elastic toggles on the hood but if the wind had been any stronger I would have needed to use them.

Rab says to launder the jacket often for optimum performance, but the jacket never seemed dirty to me. Any dirt that I got on the jacket easily brushed off. However in the name of testing I tossed it in the washer with some other clothes and some liquid Tide and it seems to have come out no worse for the wear. I hung it over the back of a chair in the evening and by the next morning it was completely dry. I have not had the opportunity to wear it in the rain since I washed it but I did do a quick sink test to check the waterproofness. The water beaded up and ran off of the jacket onto the bathroom floor so I would say it is still in good shape. The jacket has also softened up a bit since I received it. It is still slightly crinkly but softer to the touch. To me it feels similar to used “Tyvek”.

Rab on Mt Si

As I stated in my field report there are a couple of areas for improvement – more core venting and a little bit stiffer wire brim in the hood. Just some minor tweaks from my perspective. This concludes my Long Term Report. Thanks to Backpackgeartest.org and Rab for allowing me to participate in this test.

Read more reviews of RAB gear
Read more gear reviews by Jason Boyle

Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > Rab Drillium Jacket > Test Report by Jason Boyle



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