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Susie Burt in the Momentum Jacket, after taking off from the Les Grands Montets glacier (3300m)
UKC Gear, Aug 2010
© Susie Burt
Once the warmer, longer days hit the Alps and the ski touring season started in earnest, the need for a full-on winter jacket was dispensed with, and I began to look around for a lightweight spring/summer shell. The Rab Momentum seemed the ideal thing to take out onto the hill to stave off the morning cold and the wind at the top of the cols.
When the jacket arrived, I thought: "Perfect, this ticks all the boxes!" Lightweight and with minimalist features, it looked like it would pack down well to fit in a rucksack, was a good length to wear a harness over, and would be easy to throw on top of fleece/insulation layers. I hoped it would prove to be as good as it looked out in the field.
The Momentum's first outing was fairly unglamorous - walking the dog on a drizzly morning! - but it did give me a chance to get to know the Momentum before testing it for real. I found the hood was well designed to keep the rain off your face, and can be easily adjusted so it moves with you. One drizzly morning turned into a week's worth of bad weather, and I got to know the Momentum quite well on a few more hikes.
I returned to the UK for a mountain biking trip, bringing the Momentum with me as it seemed an ideal opportunity to put the jacket through its paces more seriously. I wondered how well the fabric would perform on a wet Welsh day at the trail centre at Afan Forest. Any fabric has to work hard to wick the sweat from the inside out as well as keeping persistent rain out all day.
How did it cope? Amazingly well. After five hours of riding, my top half was basically dry under the jacket. I've not previously owned a jacket built from eVent fabric, and was interested to see how this 3-layer fabric would compare to Gore-tex. It's excellent, and really does perform as well as it says on the label: "eVent fabrics allow sweat to quickly evaporate to the outside, keeping you dry on the inside. Simply said, eVent fabrics let the sweat out".
I also liked the Velcro cuffs - the Velcro sticks for a start and the tab is easy to get hold of even with a gloved hand. The cut of the jacket is excellent too - particularly the arms - and it really moves with you giving total freedom of movement.
Of course, at the end of the day the jacket was covered in mud, so I was keen to test out whether the information provided with the jacket was correct: "Regular washing of your eVent garment will enhance product performance". Over the years of using Gore-tex and other manufacturers' own brands of waterproof fabrics, I've usually found that repeated washing destroys the breathability of the fabric, and fast. Well, I've washed the Momentum Jacket a few times and so far it still performs just as well – another big tick in the box.
Back in the Alps, the weather has improved and I've taken the jacket out hiking and paragliding a number of times. It's lightness and the freedom of movement it gives you is ideal. You almost forget you are wearing it. I really like the fact that it packs down well to stuff into your rucksack when it's no longer needed, too. So lightweight for a 3-layer shell! I like the simple design, but I do miss an inside pocket and a tab to fold the hood away with, but these are only minor grumbles!
On the rainy days they did well to keep the water out with the water resistant zips and the rain drain behind, they did leak a bit but they were in use quite a bit - small failings there, but acceptable in the conditions.
The Momentum jacket gets a big thumbs up from me. Shell jackets have come a long way in recent years with improved technology and increased breathability without compromising waterproofing. Its lightness combined with its tech level is perfect. You no longer have to rely on Gore-tex fabrics to perform the best, the rest have really caught up. Rab have sourced a fantastic fabric in eVent, and created a versatile, lightweight jacket.
MORE INFO: on the Rab website
About Susie Burt
Susie Burt grew up in the South East of England dreaming of snow, mountains and skiing. She now lives and works in Chamonix and spends the winter skiing and ski mountaineering.
During the warmer months of the year she enjoys sport climbing, flying her paraglider and riding her mountain bike XC and downhill as well as hiking and running. At work she spends a lot of her time discussing kit and the best items for people to bring with them on their ski or climbing holiday from socks to skis and jackets to rucksacks.