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Rab Alpha Direct Jacket Review

Rab’s Alpha Direct Jacket is a do-it-all insulation for alpine adventures. It’s a pile-pertex jacket that uses Polartec Alpha Direct Insulation as a pile liner and Pertex Microlight outer fabric for wind protection and water resistance.

It has a great fit and can be worn over a base layer to keep you warm in cold conditions. But we found it best layered over a wind shirt on breezy days.


Rab has embraced the latest Polartec Alpha Direct insulation technology, a low-density knit that aims to increase breathability while keeping weight and bulk down. Manufactured initially as an alternative to down for military use, major outdoor brands now use this innovative new insulation and offer excellent warmth with superior breathability.

Every kind of condition can be experienced during an alpine adventure, from a warm walk or ski to the base of a route to shivering out on a freezing belay. During this varied period, the Alpha Direct balances moisture control and comfort when on the move with warmth and protection from the elements when static.

Its rugged and reliable Pertex(r) Microlight outer fabric secures the insulation and minimizes wear. Key tech features include an under-helmet hood, two-way zipper, and stretch fleece cuffs.


Rab’s Alpha Direct insulation is a new form of ‘active insulation’ designed to allow more air flow than other forms of insulation, such as down and other synthetic fabrics. The fabric is an open knit of lofted tufted fleece that connects to a solid mesh core creating exceptional insulation values.

The main benefit of this fabric is that it’s much lighter than other alternatives, such as down or other synthetic fleece, yet still retains a high level of warmth. The material also excels at managing moisture, wicking sweat away from the body, and drying quickly when wet.

It also provides the highest wind and water resistance levels among the breathable jackets we tested. It’s a good option for those who want a light insulation piece when not too cold (think fleece replacement) or a stand-alone mid-layer in colder temperatures.


A great combination of soft, breathable shell and light stretch fleece, the Alpha Direct Jacket is ideal as a multi-purpose mid-layer. Polartec Alpha Direct insulation keeps you cozy in alpine climbing or aerobic cold-weather pursuits, but the super-breathable shell wicks moisture and dries quickly.

The Alpha Direct is slim fitting, so it’s a good choice for people who want a lightweight yet highly functional outer layer. It’s a versatile piece worn over a base layer or under a waterproof shell in any weather.

There are many features for climbers to enjoy; an under-helmet hood, belay zipper, high chest pocket, thumb loops, and even a two-way zip for sport climbing. There’s also a small velcro tab at the neck to stash the hood away and reduce bulk when not wearing it.


Comfort is a crucial concern for most outdoor enthusiasts. Especially those who enjoy climbing or hiking in the winter.

Rab’s Alpha Direct Jacket is a highly versatile piece of gear that works as a mid-layer and technical outer layer. Polartec Alpha Direct fleece insulation provides next-to-skin warmth without requiring a lining fabric, thus making it lighter, more breathable, and less bulky.

The Alpha Direct fabric also dries exceptionally quickly if it gets wet, which is a significant benefit compared to conventional down or synthetic insulations.

This makes the Alpha Direct jacket an excellent choice for below-treeline tours, calm days on the mountain, or skiing/climbing in areas that aren’t windy. But it’s still not a good option for harsher weather, mainly when rain is in the forecast.