Saturday, 18 December 2010

Rab Infinity Jacket Initial Analysis

Rab have been producing superlative outdoor equipment for decades. However, in the last year someone appears to have slipped something into their macchiatos. With the Demand Pull-On, the Xenon Jacket, Exodus Jacket and the Infinity, to name but a few, they have stepped up their quality and design innovation to an utterly unprecedented level. Taking advantage of their long-term relationship with Pertex, and the introduction of the new Pertex Quantum fabric, GL, their clothing is now shrouded in one of the most effective symbioses of ultralight, windproofness, durability and water resistance. Detailed, comprehensive reviews of the Demand by Hendrik Morkel, the Infinity and Exodus by Terry and the Xenon by Joe Newton demonstrate Rab's commitment to producing supremely crafted kit. 




I recently considered purchasing either the Infinity or the Yukon and, on balance, the Yukon was my final choice. I have already penned my initial thoughts on the Yukon. My usual hillwalking and mountaineering companion opted, largely to test them in parallel, for the Infinity. We'll each of us use both of them and effect a direct comparison.




My initial impressions of the Infinity are hugely favourable. I have always been a devotee of Pertex in its various guises and Quantum GL sits comfortably within the range with its own unique functionality, just as do Microlight, Endurance and Equilibrium. It has a silky consistency and is extremely comfortable to wear. It has a judicious measure of water resistance which, for a winter jacket, is utterly essential. Clearly, no sane person will be relying on a down jacket in the rain but winter conditions in the UK entails unavoidable precipitation in some form. Conversely, the Drishell fabric of the Yukon feels more robust and less liable to degradation due to abrasion. Note what Pertex themselves say about Quantum: 


"We strongly believe that less weight shouldn’t mean ‘please be careful’. Pertex Quantum stands its ground and shows the best strength to weight ratio. Tear strength and seam strength are good for its weight and it can easily be used in shell jackets and withstands the abuse of hardcore use. The abrasion resistance however is not comparable with standard weight 44 decitex fabrics."


In reality, both will be deployed in situations where durability is less key than weight and warmth so the significance of this variance may be limited. When subjected to even a significant amount of water, beading and roll-off occurs without compunction. The Pertex Quantum GL fabric appears to be on both the shell and the interior of the Infinity.



 The Infinity, at a superb 458g for a large (Rab seem to be doing themselves a disservice saying 510g), and a 9g stuffsack, comes with a tiny interior pocket to store the stuffsack (and perhaps other small items), which is crafted in an ultralight nylon blend, and two waist pockets. They don't go all the way through like the Yukon & I must confess to preferring this format. It is a jacket rather than a Pull-On, but this difference is a matter of personal choice and convenience. It accounts for some of the disparity in weight, of course.





The Infinity is filled with 210g of 850 cu.in. goose down - extremy high quality but not quite that of the Yukon, perhaps accounting for the purportedly greater operating temperature of the Yukon for less weight. The Yukon certain feels like it is blessed with more loft when the two are laid on a flat surface together.



 The cuffs on the Infinity are, like the Yukon, not adjustable. As I said in relation to the Yukon, I prefer this although it will not be to everyone's taste as some of the comments on my Initial Analysis indicated. Unlike the Yukon, however, they are tighter and encased in Pertex Quantum (the Yukon is simple lycra) - this notwithstanding, PHD assure me they will be assessing this consideration in the Yukon. The sleeve length on the size large Infinity is very good indeed - slightly longer than the Yukon and equally unlikely to cause riding-up when rooting around on your knees inside a tent or tarp.





The hood, less conical in appearance than the Yukon, and far more liable to attract members of the opposite sex, has a square, cubic character. Secured identically by a circumference of elastic, it is a warm, comfortable shroud of lofty down. There is also an area of fleecy beardguard around the front chin area. It does not extend all the way round like the Yukon. The waist is adjusted by two, one-handed cord-locks which are the norm in this sort of kit. They work smoothly and effectively as do the YKK zips with 'glove-grip' tabs, pleasingly embossed with the Rab logo.






It is completely reasonable, in my view, to compare the Yukon and the Infinity - they fall into the same weight category, occupy almost identical space when packed and cost a similar amount - accepting of course that the Yukon is around 25% more expensive but also purportedly warmer. So far, there is little to choose between them - one has advantages as does the other. Well - we'll see about warmth, the primary issue, in the Lake District in January...



12 comments:

  1. Looks like a useful jacket, I like the lightweight fabric as I think it makes duvet jackets, which can be a bit bulky/restrictive anyway nicer to wear.

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  2. Agree entirely. It's nice - not sure whether I prefer the Yukon or the Infinity - guess that's testament to who nice it appears at first glance. Warmth will be the test.

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  3. Looking at the spec it's not unlike my ME Xero (215g/750+ FP) but with a few useful additions such as zipped pockets and of course a hood.

    It probably performs similar to the ME Lightline (316g/675+FP) at 2/3 of the weight which should make it a very useful jacket. I'll keep an eye open for one in the shops, just for a look you know ;-)

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  4. Oh my god, I fell in love with the Infinity when I tried it on a month ago. If I was in the market for a down jacket right now this is the one I would go for without a second thought.

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  5. A big shame that it has not got a cone head shaped hood, that was the deal breaker for me on the PHD jacket ;)

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  6. Mac: it's definitely going to be worth taking a closer look at. If you need a down jacket, with BMC membership it can be had for £160.

    Joe: I know you're a fan of Rab kit and rightly so - it's a great jacket. What's your down jacket?

    James: coneheads are an aquired taste but once you've seen yourself in a conehead hood, there's no turning back.

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  7. Shame about the cuffs but it is a nice jacket even if it looks like a boiler lagging jacket. What is wrong with the North Star Joe?

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  8. hey guys, any idea where would i get the infinity with BMC membership discount??
    spike

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  9. Cotswold, if you want to try it on or there are various outdoor online shops. Check out The Outdoor Shop for a cheaper deal online.

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  10. thanks!
    im using predominantly for outdoor climbing/hiking but wanted to use it to snowboard with a gortex outer shell for a week....do we think that'll work....seems pretty water repellant but worried it might get wet...any opinions welcome...
    ta
    spike

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  11. Not sure how good it will be for climbing as, if it's raining, you'll be in difficulty - the Pertex outer will eventually wet out - it's water resistant not waterproof. Then you'll have down degradation and a wet, useless mess which is heavy to carry and not at all warm. With a Gore-Tex shell, snowboarding, it'd be worth a try as there is unlikely to be rain where you're boarding. The water resistance, with a Gore-tex shell is likely to shed snow. It's worth a try and, as you're boarding you'll be in a chalet in the evenings so if it doesn't work for you, you can get something else for the rest of the trip.

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  12. Not sure how good it will be for climbing as, if it's raining, you'll be in difficulty - the Pertex outer will eventually wet out - it's water resistant not waterproof. Then you'll have down degradation and a wet, useless mess which is heavy to carry and not at all warm. With a Gore-Tex shell, snowboarding, it'd be worth a try as there is unlikely to be rain where you're boarding. The water resistance, with a Gore-tex shell is likely to shed snow. It's worth a try and, as you're boarding you'll be in a chalet in the evenings so if it doesn't work for you, you can get something else for the rest of the trip.

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