RAB have built a name for themselves over the years for top quality, hard wearing outdoor clothing. The company was started by respected climber Rab Carrington, and although the company has now changed hands, the same high quality philosophy still reigns. Personally I have owned more waterproof jackets over the years than I care to remember. The vast majority of them seemed to lose their waterproofing very quickly. Another problem is with breathability. Keeping the rain out is one thing, but this is no good if condensation inside the clothing builds up to such a degree that you might as well not have worn the garment in the first place! This is actually one reason why many people are now wearing soft shells rather than waterproofs. The argument goes that soft shells are much more breathable because they are not designed to keep water out, and that with modern materials they dry out very quickly after the rain has stopped. There is a lot of logic to this, since no waterproof garment will be able to reduce condensation to zero, you might as well wear a garment that will simply dry out much more quickly. And with pertex and pile style clothing also keeping you very warm as well, despite how wet the garment becomes, you do begin to question the use of out and out waterproofs. The trouble is that Pertex and pile clothing is too warm for the summer months, and perhaps even for Spring and Autumn. Many people prefer soft shells during the summer months when rain is often more sporadic. Although recently rain has been more persistant in the UK. And when you are out in the wet stuff, particularly when it is heavy and continuous, nothing beats dedicated waterproofs. Which brings me neatly onto the eVent based RAB Latok jacket.
The Latok has been designed mainly for hard usage in more mountainous environments. But I was taken by the design enough to buy one for general use for a few reasons. The first is that unlike most other jackets the Latok can fit a full size OS map into each of its four lengthy front pockets. It is a bit of a squeeze with laminated maps, but they still fit. In fact I don’t think I have come across another jacket that allows this. All of these pockets are protected by heavy duty waterproof zips, and lined with eVent. The jacket also has two internal mesh pockets, one open and one zipped, for mobile phones and other accessories. There are also two under arm ventilation zips for further breathability if required.
The Latok is a fairly heavy duty waterproof and as such it is not the best bet for summer, but otherwise it is superb. The helmet compatible wire peaked hood can be folded up and stowed around the neck line, although I found that it can be awkward to do this and make it look neat, so I generally tend to leave the hood unpacked. In use the hood can be adjusted to fit very precisely. The jacket is designed for \’active\’ fit, so it is not as baggy as other jackets, but it does give a lot of freedom of movement, designed as it is for activities that require this.
There are two internal elastic cords to allow the jacket to be tightened around the lower mid torso, and also at the hem for a snug fit. I have now owned the Latok for around a year and have taken it out in all sorts of weather.
The eVent material is no doubt the most breathable waterproof fabric I have come across. I have also noticed that the RAB eVent garments tend to have much longer lasting DWR coatings than other types so water beads off them for longer despite repeated washes. In heavy prolonged rain with a lot of heavy walking the jacket can still become moist inside. This is also noticeable in the front pockets too whereby after heavy exercise and movement things can become soggy depending on the humidity. Although to be fair the Latok copes far better than any other similar type of jacket I have used.
Unlike other fabrics eVent starts working right away and is not dependent on any differences in conditions between the inside of the garment and the outside. It doesn\’t take long for the inside of the jacket to dry out once hard exercise is ceased and the arm vents etc are opened. Of course in heavy rain opening the vents may be the last thing that you want to do. But under normal walking conditions (I personally tend to walk very briskly and therefore get hotter more quickly than many other people) the jacket copes exceptionally well with managing condensation.
All of my waterproofs are now made from eVent. I cannot wear anything else, unless I am doing an activity that might risk ruining the garment, in which case I will wear more disposable waterproofs. Even if you do not go specifically for the Latok, I would very highly recommend that you do at least go for something made from eVent if you tend to go out in foul weather a lot.
In conclusion the RAB Latok jacket is ideal for winter in foul conditions, and is exceptionally breathable as well as practical with its immense pocket storage space. Highly recommended! Simon Wyndham
Buy RAB jackets here: Rab Latok Jacket (men’s) Dark Shark (Large)