Save layers, save time, save hassle.
Layering used to be the be-all end-all of winter preparedness, and while it still plays a huge role in keeping skiers, mountaineers, and climbers comfortable, new gear like the Rab Paradox Men's Pull-On Insulated Jacket has made it less of a necessity. Woven from exceedingly breathable high-gauge polyester, the Paradox is mind-blowingly breathable, so you don't get sweaty when you're expending a lot of energy, but it's also filled with highly efficient Polartec Alpha synthetic insulation, so you don't get cold when you're hanging at belay stations or grabbing a bite on the skintrack. This versatility means you won't have to fiddle with your layers so often, so you'll save time and hassle and spend more time focused on why you're in the mountains for in the first place.
While the Paradox is highly breathable, warm, and lightweight, it's also filled with just enough thoughtful features, like an internal storm flap to stop drafts blowing through the zipper and a soft chin guard that prevents skin irritation. The half-length hem drawcord is optimized to work while you're wearing a pack or harness, and the elastic cuffs keep your sleeves in place without the need for hook-and-loop straps, buttons, or cords, so there's less bulk, less annoyance, and less fiddling, which should be one of the primary goals of killer alpine gear.
- High-gauge polyester face fabric
- High-gauge polyester mesh lining
- Polartec Alpha synthetic insulation
- 1/2-length front zip
- Internal storm flap
- Soft chin guard
- Drawcord hem
- Item #RAB008E
- Q & A
- Familiarity: I returned this product before using it
- Fit: True to size
- Size Bought: medium
I am not sure what rab was really going for here. I got this looking for something which could be used on colder ski tours, over a t shirt for summer alpine rock and over a base layer for ice climbing. Many of the "alpha" pieces out there have too much insulation and/or don't have a breathable enough outer fabric.
For you TLDR folks, it's a glorified 100 weight fleece with some wind resistance that gets cold with even the faintest bit of snow.
The big hit against the paradox is that outer fabric has no DWR and sucks up water like a sponge. While this might be great for spreading out moisture when you sweat to evaporate it also works the other way for external moisture. When it wets out the lining fabric makes full contact with your skin, which quickly makes you cold. A thin 100 weight fleece puts less fabric in contact with your skin and is warmer when wet.
This made it useless for ski touring, where I'll frequently be out with light snow fall or brushing tree branches. In that application it would be a the single layer.
The other knock against the exterior fabric open weave would not hold up to abrasion. I would not expect it to hold up to even one thrutch up a granite chimney. So that takes it out for summer rock.
Final and most annoying knock, the cuffs are not fitted at all. It's clear that Rab left them a bit wider to slide up your forearms, but they didn't do anything with elastic. There is significant fabric bunched up, it actually doesn't layer nicely as a base because of this. Your typical ice gloves don't go over it well either. I'm not sure what Rab was thinking here, they've had nice details on other coats.
At the end of the day I could see this for trail running on cool fall and winter days. I could also see it for on trail hiking.
I think you'll get most versatility from a thin fleece and a wind shirt for other applications though.
Also of note, if you're looking for a layer for alpine rock/ice the nano air light nails it everywhere Rab fell short.
Great Mid or Outer Layer
- Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
- Fit: True to size
- Size Bought: Large
I am basically that guy who is out running before the sun comes up, anytime during the year in SE Nebraska. Temps range from -30 F to +95 F with as much humidity as the Gulf Coast. Picked up the Rab Paradox after reading a blub or two. I have an Eddie Bauer Propellant jacket w/ Polartec Alpha and use it in the snow for hiking, snowshoeing. It is heavy, at 702 grams but dumps heat and moisture like nothing else.
I put on the Rab this morning and hit the trail; dark and chilly at 48F around 5am. Soon after starting, I hit that point when I should be warming up and getting a little sweat buildup but was comfortable, cool and dry. Ran for a little over 5 miles and made it back to the car, still cool and dry... just the perfect finish. I wore the Paradox over a lightweight short sleeved 85% polyester, 15 % cotton tee. This will be a great mid layer under a wind jacket for running and fast packing this winter. At 320 grams for a large size, it will definitely find room in my backpack.