Two years ago the Upper Peninsula experienced one of its coldest winters on record with sub below temperatures and seemingly endless polar winds blowing across a frozen Lake Superior. We spent a good portion of the season actually climbing in our belay parkas attempting to stay warm during long days on the ice. Those bulky belay jackets, while somewhat challenging to climb in, did keep us warm.
This season I was excited to test out the RAB Neutrino Endurance Jacket as I was searching for a warm, lightweight technical climbing jacket. The Neutrino Endurance is a technical down alpine jacket, designed for modern mountaineering and light weight ascents, perfect for the Upper Peninsula’s long approaches and arctic winter conditions.
Using 800-fill Nikwax hydrophobic European goose down, this jacket features a combination of Pertex® Quantum and Endurance fabrics which incorporates an ultra-thin air permeable coating that is both highly breathable, water and wind resistant. This layer protects the insulation from the elements, maintains loft, and retains warmth making this jacket light, very compactable, and highly water resistant. While field testing this jacket earlier this season, the jacket preformed remarkable well when a mix of wet snow and light mist coated us during a foray climbing along the lakeshore- a strong testament to the quality of the Pertex fabrics.
Michigan Ice Fest participants will appreciate that the Neutrino Endurance was built by climbers and many of the technical features demonstrate that. Rab lists the jacket as a regular fit but I found the medium I tried is more of an athletic fit (snug) which I found climbs better than most of the insulated jackets I have tried in the past. The other thing I love about the jacket is how light it is. Coming in at only 22oz compared to the 1lb10oz of some it’s synthetic competitors, not only is it light in your pack it is also light on your back! The fact that it comes with its own stuff sack which incorporates a mesh panel, making the jacket easier to compress and allowing the jacket to “breathe”. As simple as a stuff sack is, this is a space saver.
Spending a good portion of the ice season instructing/guiding means putting some serious time in belay jacket. Having a double zipper enables a hassle free belay and is a must for any serious climbing jacket. I particularly like this one with the offset color which is easy to see and the zipper pull is simple to pull even with gloves on.
For me the most important aspect to a belay jacket is keeping warm and the 800 fill down certainly does a fine job of that in a variety of temperatures. While climbing I do not like to wear a helmet liner so the hood of the jacket needs to be compatible with a helmet and it has to be insulated. The Neutrino Endurance has a down-filled helmet-compatible hood, with side cinches to keep it snug to your face keeping the spindrift at bay. Zip the zipper all the way up to form a port hole and the soft chin guard protects your face from the cold and wet. Don’t want the hood? It has a Velcro-free roll down system for stowing away the hood when it is not needed. Another nice touch are the soft brushed pockets that when you slip your hands inside they feel nice and cozy!
If its one thing Michigan Ice Fest guides know, its belay jackets. Looking to stay warm at your belay? Rab hit it out of the park with the Neutrino Endurance Jacket. You can check out this jacket for yourself at the RAB booth at the Michigan Ice Fest headquarters!