The Rab Meridian is a lightweight jacket that's perfect for three seasons on the hills, and year-round use for low-level activities – walking, running etc. It can be squashed small into its stuff sack and shoved into your pack without taking up much room. I started testing this jacket out towards the end of February, just before lockdown, when the weather was beautiful, but snow on the mountains was a knee-deep wading job. Since Covid-19 restrictions were put into place I've worn the jacket on local walks, and when I've gone out running.
Government advice would be not to upsize when you go to Burger King, and that's one thing. But if you're spending a couple of hundred pounds on this jacket I would definitely recommend up-sizing, even though Rab call the Meridian 'a regular fit giving room for movement'. Of course, I want to look amazing, but what I also want from my hill gear is unrestricted movement, comfort and warmth as well as protection from the elements. And because I always utilise a layering system, though I'm size 10, I opted for the 12. A wise choice since its first outing was in winter conditions. The Meridian also comes in a men's version.
This jacket ticks most of the hillwalking shell boxes for me. There's generous length in the articulated arms, with sleeves that come right down over my hands. As soon as I felt the cold I pulled over the adjustable Velcro fastenings on the cuffs to prevent wind and snow getting in. There's no tightness across the shoulders when stretching. Plenty of room in the body too, meaning I'm able to throw on extra layers underneath without ending up sweating like a banana in a plastic bag. The jacket is cut lower at the back so it sits neatly under your bum, offering maximum weather coverage. And the roomy hood looks awesome down as well as up – plus it doesn't drag my hat forward over my head. Bonus. Nothing more annoying than your sight being slowly obscured, especially when you can't readjust easily because you're wearing giant mitts. The neck is a great high fit which covers up to the tip of my nose, for those colder windy days.
Rab say the Meridian is made from recycled 40D Gore-Tex Paclite Plus – waterproof, breathable and lightweight at 340g (size 12). I say this is a pretty robust shell for its slight weight, which should do me for some time, whether I'm out walking, running or scrambling. I'm not one for wearing make-up or perfume so the membrane shouldn't get trashed quite so quickly. To look after it, all I need to do is discipline myself (ahem) and make sure I wash the jacket regularly with waterproof-specific detergent and then treat it with a spray-on re-proofer (OK, this is never going to happen).
So, back to when I was first out walking, I got fairly high on the mountain before the wind began to feel like an arctic blast. I threw this jacket on as a windbreak over my layers, hoping it would give me some protection – it did.
Since Gore do not publish test results for breathability it's not possible to say how their Paclite Plus performs on paper. But in use I've found it breathable enough for walking in comfort, something we also found in our recent review of the Rab Zenith jacket:
Breathing heavily on the uphill there was a build up of condensation when I had the neck zipped up fully, but you aren't going to avoid that. Rab tells you that condensation can also build up inside the pockets (they are not mesh-lined) so make sure you put your mobile phone, or any other electronic device, into an additional waterproof bag.
The smooth fabric was also tremendous for a super-fast sitting glissade down the mountain, and no issue with snow sneaking in – what more do you really want?
As you would hope and expect, the Meridian works well in wet conditions. To test this, I went out on one of my lockdown walks during a downpour of biblical proportions and, other than water coursing off the ends of the cuffs soaking my gloves, I was happy to be kept dry and comfortable. The jacket works equally well over a single layer when I am out running, though it's not specifically designed for this activity – it doesn't have a rolldown hood or reflective strips (though the branding is reflective), but neither of these things overly concern me.
The worst aspect of the fabric is how loud and crinkly it sounds – almost like being wrapped up in baking parchment.
There are no gimmicks or unnecessary features with this jacket, you get what you need, nothing more and nothing less. There are two pockets, big enough for gloves as well as squashing in a hat. I can even fit my 600ml Sigg bottle inside the pocket. Zips start high, making for decent access when you've a backpack strapped on.
Pit zips are my favourite feature on a jacket and these ones are easy enough to pull down with one hand, allowing air in to circulate, not so easy to close up while running though (but remember this jacket isn't specifically designed with this activity in mind).
The main zip, like the pit and pocket, is water resistant. It's just a single zipper though, and I do prefer doubles because I like to be able to open the jacket from the bottom as well as the top when I need to cool down, but don't want to get into a fankle and waste time in taking the jacket off.
There's a drawcord around the hem which is easy enough to operate when tightening up or slackening off.
I usually find drawcords on hoods too fiddly and annoying, but the one on this jacket is super easy to use with one hand using a simple toggle mechanism at the back of the hood – as I discovered the day I was walking in the belting rain. I was happily surprised the roomy hood pulled in tightly and securely, keeping the elements out. And the stiffened peak kept the rain from dripping all over my face.
The Meridian is a decent, lightweight jacket that is ideal for hillwalking, backpacking and all-round outdoor use. It costs £220 which is pretty standard, I think. Overall, I like its shape, colour and design. If you need an all-round three-season jacket then you won't go far wrong with this.
If you need advanced weather protection for exploring the hills, alongside reliable everyday waterproofing when you leave them behind, the Women's Meridian Jacket is a highly versatile solution.
Designed with a regular fit to allow space for flexible layering, the Meridian is all about authentic breadth of ability. With its one-handed hood adjustment, its roll-down tab system, its quick-vent armpit zips and its spacious, easy-access A-line chest pockets, it's a very simple and intuitive jacket to use, even when the weather closes in. Articulated sleeves ensure you can be as active as you like without lifting the hem line or compromising comfort; and the outstanding breathability of the jacket, allied to the adjustability of the hood, hem and cuffs, means you can enjoy a close, body-tailored fit for your outdoor adventures.
With its 40D GORE-TEX PACLITE Plus nylon face, the feature-rich Women's Meridian Jacket is a premium layer for a wide range of active hill sports.
- Sizes: 8-16 (women) S-XXL (men)
- Weight: 305g (Rab's weight)
- Semi-elasticated hood with stiffened peak and one handed adjustment
- Recycled 40D GORE-TEX PACLITE PLUS Technology
- 2 YKK® A-line hand pockets
- YKK® pit zips for easy venting
- Articulated sleeves
- Fully Adjustable hem and cuffs
- Reflective branding
- Stuff sack included
For more info see rab.equipment