The golden rule for bikepacking kit is the smallest bulk for the most performance, and a lightweight down jacket is essential kit.
It is the first item I pack regardless of climate or where I’m heading, well OK technically it is the last item as it fits best at the back of of the saddle pack bag! From snow to Scottish summer conditions a down jacket is the perfect option for when you’re tired and cold and setting up camp. Now with our babypacking adventures it is even more important as a safety item so I have a down jacket to put over us both when cold. Some people prefer synthetic insulation with the argument that it stays warmer if it gets wet, however given how much I ride in Scotland and how much it rains I’ve never had much issue with a down jacket most importantly down packs smaller for the same warmth. Nature still does insulation better I think.
So I’ve discussed why a down jacket is essential for bikebacking but why this one? I’ll be honest when I first bought one they all looked much the same, but I’ve used 4 over recent years and some have been rubbish. The Rab Microlight jacket is an iconic item, and this jacket celebrates 10 years as a best seller. That in itself suggests this jacket might be OK – if you’ve sold loads over the last 10 years you’re doing something right! Most UK outdoor enthusiasts will have some Rab kit and maybe most iconic is the micro down jacket.
First up it fits a bit longer than other brands which I like, they also do a long version too! Nice range of colours is good too but most importantly the fit is great. So many jackets like this are square shaped which annoys me being tall and skinny and and lets face it this is a serious piece of outdoor kit so the average wearer is likely to be on the slimmer fit side of the scale like us.
The packability is such it fits back in its own bag easily and will go into the smallest Apidura bar bag with my sleeping bag easily enough. I noramlly stash it in the saddle pack at the end to use up space and squeeze stuff together, also as it is light it won’t cause swaying issues with the saddle pack. It is then teh first item to hand if needed when I stop.
However there is still space in it to pull over other riding clothes or even squeeze a small baby underneath!
This is the big big difference with cheaper jackets where the down is the wrong weight/amount used, fill and the down was probably plucked in some horrible factory in China. Rab use ethically sourced down from the EU, and in 750 fill which is what I look for in a jacket. 750 fill is the best balance between structure and incredible lofting, (put simply the fill means how high the down lofts up). I have a 800 fill Haglofs jacket that is very similar to the Rab with same outer fabric but the down is so soft it compresses easier and doesn’t fill the baffles quite as well.
Hydrophobic down isn’t completely water repellent but it noticeably doesn’t clump together when damp which helps in the wetter conditions that we have in Scotland. The Microlight jacket seems to do pretty well on the drizzly days when I have used it without an outer shell. That says a bit for the Pertex Quantum outer layer too which seems to be the best fabric out there for this kind of application.
Overall it isn’t rocket science to conclude that this classic Rab jacket is light, packs small, is warm, resists the elements and while you can probably get a slightly cheaper jacket it won’t tick all the boxes quite as well. If you’re looking for a down bikepacking jacket then It’s hard to look past this one.
470gms in weight overall
143gm of Down fill
Full details click here