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Jack testing the Rab Superdru jacket
Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC, Nov 2008
© Jack Geldard Do you remember that old CAMP advert?
“It's her birthday, but The Ben is in... These weren't the kind of dinner plates you were expecting...”
It was with a similar feeling of guilt that I made my way up through the blizzard in the Carneddau, to see how the Black Ladders were freezing up. I knew if they were looking good I'd be missing my mum's birthday that coming weekend and instead, sending her a text message from an icy belay on The Somme.
Unfortunately the cliffs were bare and I made it to her birthday party. But at least my exploratory adventure gave the chance to test the SuperDru in some foul freezing weather.
The Rab SuperDru jacket is a lightweight shell jacket from Rab. It comes in three colour options, blue, red or black, and in sizes S-XXL.
It has reinforced material on the areas most likely to suffer from wear and tear, water resistant zips, lots of pockets (3 external, 1 internal), adjustable cuffs and and a fully working hood.
I had the black version, in a size large and according to the trusty Tesco kitchen scales mine weighed in at 390g.
How long I have had it?
I have had the jacket now for around 3 months, and it has been to the summit of Ben Nevis in -6 and 30mph winds, it has been in the Carneddau in -1 and wet snow, it's been cragging in the biting November wind at Tremadog, oh, and it has been to the pub a few times too.
After all the different scenarios I have tested jackets in, it still seems to me to be the wet, driving-rain days (+2 degrees, 30mph winds, uphill walking for hours...) that test shell jackets to the limit. That and squirming up Scottish mixed chimneys covered in thick hoar frost...
How did it perform?
In all these scenarios, the SuperDru performed well. It has kept me dry and alive in some of this winter's most hostile weather.
The zips are high quality YKK water resistant zips and have worked well, even with gloves on. They do have a stiff feel, but don't get jammed up at all, which is handy for those grim belays, when everything feels like a challenge. I'm always slightly sceptical about not having an external flap over the main zip, which the SuperDru doesn't have. It hasn't leaked on me yet, but the internal flap is small and wouldn't keep the weather out. It's all down to the zips.
© Rab, Jan 2009
The extra tough fabric on the wear areas is a great idea, and this jacket didn't leak or get worn out in the usual rub points.
The pockets are well positioned to use with a harness on, and are plenty big enough to take a map, compass, snickers bar etc.
The cut of the jacket is superb, and really makes this an excellent climbing shell. The sleeves are a good length and don't ride up. The hood works perfectly, accommodates a helmet and you can even pull it on with the jacket zipped all the way up – a rarity in shell jackets these days.
The cuff Velcro is up to the job, a full piece, not just a small tab, it stayed put in the sticky snow.
The jacket has a tough feel despite the light weight, and would double as a lightweight summer rain jacket as well as a full winter mountain jacket.
The jacket doesn't have pit zips and that sort of thing, but I didn't miss them at all, and I think that perhaps all those extra features can just add on unnecessary weight. Sometimes less is more.
Event vs. Gore-tex?
To be perfectly honest I haven't been able to tell the difference one way or another really. I get a bit sweaty when I'm panting my way uphill. The eVent fabric certainly breathed well, and was reliably waterproof. I wouldn't hesitate to use eVent again, but was it better than Gore-tex? I don't know.
A great 'middle of the road' mountain jacket. Not super heavy and tough, but not light and flimsy. Well designed, well cut, no bells and whistles. It does what it is supposed to. A well designed hood, long body and sleeve length and under 400g, this is a great climbing and mountaineering jacket. If I wanted something for everyday full winter abuse, I might go for a heavier jacket, but for a mixture of uses it really is a great buy.
UKC Articles and Gear Reviews by Jack Geldard - UKC Chief Editor: