This jacket caught my eye in Tiso the other week; the Rab Nimbus is the lighter of the two new 3M Cirrus insulated jackets in Rab’s range this winter, with both jackets being pitched as synthetic insulation with the feel and loft of down.
At first glance, the ‘micro baffle’ styling definitely hints at a down jacket and a couple of friends who’ve seen me wearing it have assumed it’s down filled. It’s an easy mistake to make if you try it on as well; it definitely has more of a ‘lofty’ feel than any other synthetic jacket I’ve tried on, moulding round the contours of your torso much more than you’d expect from a man-made fill, and more down-like than the Nebula, which uses the same 3M Cirrus fill. I’d assume the lightweight face fabric is the difference, as the material on the Nimbus feels lighter and less stiff. The upshot is that it’s very comfortable, and since I bought it, I’ve been wearing it pretty much every day, even sticking it on just to sit about the office.
The weather this December has been pretty mild so far, with a succession of westerly fronts pushing mild, turbulent air over the hills and limiting the opportunities to get out and about. A brief change to high pressure gave some welcome relief for a day or two, and allowed me to head out to Ben Vorlich and try the Nimbus out in the environment it’s intended for.
Despite the calmer conditions, there was enough of a breeze on Ben Vorlich to justify putting the Nimbus on when we reached the summit, and it felt reassuringly cozy over the top of a base layer and lightweight fleece as we grabbed some food and spent a bit of time taking photographs. It’s worth noting that the Nimbus has a neater cut than the Nebula (and most other Rab jackets I’ve tried on), and I’d opted for an XL to give enough room for it to go on over a soft-shell. If you’re buying in a shop, it’ll not be a problem, but worth bearing in mind if you’re shopping online. Rab describe the Nimbus as a “technical all-rounder”, which seems reasonable; it would fit under a roomy hardshell, while being warm enough to serve as a lightweight overlayer if conditions weren’t too harsh.
The hood is a neat and simple affair, intended to fit under a helmet for climbing duties, with no stiffened peak and only an elasticated edging to hold it in place. In practice, it works pretty well on my head, staying in place over a beanie, and sitting comfortably under a Petzl Meteor when I gave it a try back at the house. I have a pretty large head, so if your’s is a more compact affair, you might get away with pulling the hood over a compact helmet. The cuffs are equally straightforward, with an elasticated opening that pulls down over neat fitting gloves fairly easily; this has been a deal-breaker for me with a couple of previous jackets, as keeping a good seal over the wrists is key to warm hands in winter and, when you’ve got other people to look after, it’s important to minimize the faff required to sort yourself out.
One trip up a hill doesn’t really give a jacket like this a particularly stern test, but first impressions of the Rab Nimbus are pretty positive, and I’m definitely keen to give it a few more outings, particularly when the metalwork comes out for climbing, so see how robust the face fabric is; if the Nimbus has an achilles heel, that might be it, although my previous experience with lightweight Pertex fabrics is that they’re usually more robust than initial appearances might suggest. My in-store options were limited to black, but it also comes in blue and a very vivid green, which would have been my preference had it been available at the time. I’ll update later in the season, but in the meantime, the Nimbus is definitely one to consider if you’re in the market for a lightweight insulating layer this winter.