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Rab Drillium Jacket REVIEW

Lightweight eVENT multi-sport jacket with a terrific fit and feature set, but its appeal depends on whether you need a helmet-compatible hood or not.

Recommended

Overall Rating: Recommended

The Drillium Jacket has a three-way adjustable helmet-compatible hood and stow-away collar - a crucial feature for helmet sports, but not of much benefit for the average backpacker. For someone who participates in helmet sports, I rate the Rab Drillium as Recommended. For someone who does not participate in helmet sports, the hood and stow-away collar just add weight and get in the way. For backpacking, I would rate the Drillium as Above Average for its fit and other features.

Although the Rab Drillium Jacket is well-designed and constructed and has an essential feature set, it does have a few drawbacks: tight zippers, side pocket zippers that hang up, and Velcro cuff closures that snag on other fabrics. In making a purchase decision on a lightweight eVENT jacket, it will be a tough choice between the Rab Drillium, the Montane eVENT Quick-Fire Jacket and the Integral Designs eVENT Thru Hiker Jacket (or eVENT Rain Jacket).

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by Will Rietveld |

Rab Drillium Jacket REVIEW

Introduction

Rab is a British company that has been making cutting edge outdoor gear for 25 years. Up until now, customers have had to pay international shipping costs to get Rab products. Starting in 2007, their products will be available in the United States through several franchised retailers. It will be nice to add Rab products to our range of choices for outdoor gear.

At 12.7 ounces (size L), the Rab Drillium is a short-cut multi-sport jacket in a lightweight version of 3-layer eVENT fabric. The Drillium has a nice feature set and all the advantages of eVENT fabric in the same weight range as a conventional polyurethane-laminate jacket, but costs a little more. Does the performance justify the additional cost?

What’s Good

  • eVENT fabric
  • Lightweight and durable
  • Fully seam-taped
  • Helmet-compatible hood
  • Water-resistant zippers
  • Long sleeves and dropped tail
  • High side pockets
  • Inside security pocket

What’s Not So Good

  • Wire brim on hood
  • Helmet compatible hood, if you don’t need it
  • Velcro cuff closure catches on other fabrics

Specifications

  Model Year

2007 Rab Drillium eVENT Jacket

  Style

Full zip, hooded multi-purpose shell jacket

  Weight

12.7 oz (360 g) measured weight, manufacturer’s specification 12.35 oz (350 g) size L

  Shell Fabric

Main shell is 3-layer eVENT, consisting of a 15-denier nylon ripstop face fabric with DWR, the eVENT ePTFE membrane, and inside scrim layer to protect the membrane, 2.5 oz/yd2 (85 g/m2); fully seam taped

  Features

Narrow seam tape, elastic drawcord hem with 2 adjustors, stow-away wire brim hood with dual elastic drawcord front adjustment and single drawcord rear adjustment, two high mounted zippered side pockets with water-resistant zippers, full height front water-resistant zipper with internal storm flap, adjustable cuffs with Velcro tabs, dropped tail, fleece chin guard

  MSRP

US$275

Performance

You might cringe at the price when you purchase an eVENT jacket ($275 in this case), but once you get past the cost, it's all smiles. The Rab Drillium jacket is now an option for US consumers, so in writing this review I not only evaluate the Drillium’s features and performance, but also compare it to other eVENT jackets on the market.

Rab Drillium Jacket REVIEW - 1
Front and rear views of the Rab Drillium eVENT jacket. The hood is stowed in the collar in these photos.

The Drillium is Rab’s lightest eVENT jacket. Rab calls it a “multi-sport jacket”, and I agree with their label. It is much more than a rain jacket. I wore it constantly as an outer shell in all kinds of winter activities and weather.

The Drillium is made of Rab’s “lightweight eVENT three-layer fabric” (2.5 oz/yd2), while their other eVENT jackets are made of “midweight eVENT three-layer fabric” (4.3 oz/yd2) and are intended for mountaineering. The eVENT fabric used for the Drillium is lightweight, but it could be lighter. The face fabric is 15 denier nylon (which is light), but it has a 40 denier ripstop running through it, which makes the fabric stiffer as well.

As a multi-sport jacket, the Drillium has a carefully selected feature set (detailed in the following photos) that many would consider essential.

Rab Drillium Jacket REVIEW - 2
The Rab Drillium jacket has an essential feature set. Inside (top left) there is one stretch mesh zippered pocket. Outside (top right) it has two large zippered side pockets set high above a backpack hipbelt. The outside pocket zippers plus the full-height front zipper are water-resistant. The tail (bottom left) is dropped a full 4 inches. The sleeves (bottom right) are extra long and have a Velcro closure with rubber pull tabs.

The Drillium's helmet-compatible hood is a great feature for backcountry skiing, ice climbing, and lightweight mountaineering. However, backpackers may see the larger hood, its stow-away feature, and its complex adjustments as overkill. The value of the helmet-compatible hood ultimately depends on the user’s need for that feature.

Rab Drillium Jacket REVIEW - 3
The Drillium’s helmet-compatible hood is fantastic if you participate in helmet sports, but the hood is overkill for most backpackers. It has two elastic cord adjusters on the front and one on the back (top and bottom left). Its wire brim provides adequate protection by itself for eyeglasses (top right), or lies over a billed hat (top left). When not needed, the hood can be folded up and stowed in the jacket’s collar (bottom right).

Field Testing

I wore the Rab Drillium jacket while mountain snowshoeing, snow hiking, cross-country skiing, and snow camping, and also for winter camping and hiking in the southern Utah canyon country. During the test period it got a good workout shedding snow, rain, and wind and also served as an outer shell layer over insulated clothing in camp.

On me (6 feet, 170 pounds), the Drillium in size Large has a trim fit but still has enough room to layer over a medium weight insulated jacket. It fits tight over a puffy down jacket. The raglan-style sleeves are extra long, so I could easily retract my hands into the sleeves for extra warmth. The tail is dropped 4 inches to provide good coverage over the butt. Articulation is very good; when I raise my arms the sleeves pull back to my wrists, and when I cross my arms I do not feel any binding in the shoulders.

The front water-resistant zipper is a little stiff, but operates smoothly without catching. The side pockets are high and angled and have an 8-inch water-resistant zipper. They are deep and roomy (almost 12 inches high on the inside) and I found them very handy for stowing bulky gloves when I took them off, or for stowing a variety of items to keep them handy. I loved the high location of the side pockets, where a backpack hipbelt does not interfere with them. I also found the inside zippered mesh pocket very handy for stowing valuables or drying out gloves.

Rab Drillium Jacket REVIEW - 4
The side pocket zippers are stiff and tend to catch on the internal storm flap.

The Drillium’s hood is helmet-compatible and has a wire brim and three drawcord adjustors. For someone who will wear the jacket with a helmet, it is well-designed and very useful. For me, the oversize hood with three adjustments and stow-away collar are overkill and extra weight. I am not a fan of a wire-stiffened brim on a storm shell, and find it an annoyance to straighten out the wire brim every time I pulled the jacket out of a pack. Once the drawcord adjustors on the hood are set, they can be kept that way, so the hood doesn’t have to be adjusted every time. One advantage of a helmet-compatible hood (when not wearing a helmet) is that you can lift the hood on and off with the front zipper fully zipped. When the hood is not needed or desired, the jacket has a Velcro-secured pocket in the collar for stowing it. Tip: when packing the jacket, it helps to fold the hood into the stow-away collar to avoid bending the wire brim out of shape.

The Drillium is unquestionably waterproof, wind-resistant, and highly breathable. I wore the jacket on snowy days and rainy days and stayed completely dry. In a cold wind, I found the jacket most comfortable with a baselayer and thin fleece top under it while hiking.

When you carry an eVENT jacket, you may not need to carry a windshirt. The Drillium Jacket works better in the wind than many windshirts on the market. The eVENT jacket breathed extremely well and allowed me to stay cool and comfortable while hiking. In variable weather conditions, I found I could leave the Drillium eVENT jacket on much longer than other jackets due to its broader comfort range. However, it’s not a silver bullet - when I hike uphill carrying a pack, especially in the sun, I eventually start to sweat too much, and the jacket has to come off. The front zipper helps to regulate temperature somewhat, but no jacket can help you ventilate your back when you are wearing a backpack.

I didnt' like the jacket’s rubber tab and Velcro cuff adjustors. Although an effort was made to minimize the problem, the Velcro still catches on other fabrics when stuffing a sleeping bag or packing a backpack. I avoided the problem (and fabric damage) by turning the cuffs over when stuffing other gear.

It should be noted that eVENT requires similar maintenance to Gore-Tex, which means it needs to be kept clean for the ePTFE membrane to function properly, and the surface DWR coating must be restored occasionally so the jacket repels water.

Assessment

I really like the Drillium’s fit, especially its long sleeves and dropped tail. The body has ample room for layering over a thin or medium thickness insulation layer, but is tight over thick insulation unless you oversize accordingly.

If you will be wearing a helmet when using the Drillium jacket, the helmet-compatible hood is a necessary feature. If not, the oversize hood is unnecessary excess and bother. Since I do not participate in any helmet sports, I prefer the simple hood design of the Integral Designs eVENT rain Jacket and wear it over a billed cap to keep my glasses dry. However, the body length is too short, and it also doesn’t have the high side pockets of the Drillium. But it weighs 2.7 ounces less and costs $55 less than the Drillium.

The body length of the Integral Designs eVENT Thru Hiker Jacket is 3 inches longer than the eVENT Rain Jacket, the hood is compatible with a low profile helmet, and it costs $15 less than the Drillium. However, for the same weight, the Drillium has two large side pockets while the Thru Hiker Jacket has one large Napoleon style pocket.

The Drillium has a similar feature set and weight as the Montane Quick-Fire Jacket, and costs about $70 less.

It would be nice if Rab would offer a version of the Drillium with a simple hood for backpackers and leaving the remainder of the jacket alone. The weight savings from simplifying the hood and dropping the stow-away feature, in combination with the jacket’s longer body length and high pockets would make it nearly perfect.

Overall, I found the Rab Drillium Jacket to be one of the most versatile jackets I have used. It’s much more than a rain jacket. It also doubles as a windshirt and an outer shell layer over an insulating jacket in camp.

What’s Unique

The Drillium Jacket is exceptionally well designed and constructed to take full advantage of its eVENT fabric. Every feature is carefully selected and designed.

Recommendations for Improvement

  • Offer this jacket with a simple lightweight hood for backpackers
  • Use water-resistant zippers that slide easier
  • Re-design the side pocket zippers so they don’t catch on the storm flap
  • Re-design the cuff closures so the Velcro doesn’t catch on other fabrics
  • Use an even lighter weight of eVENT fabric to make the jacket lighter

Citation

"Rab Drillium Jacket REVIEW," by Will Rietveld. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/rab_drillium_jacket_review.html, 2007-05-08 03:00:00-06.

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Rab Drillium Jacket REVIEW
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Martin Pomije
(cold_weather_cyclist)
Your Drillium looks different than the jackets on Rab's site and that of online retailers. on 12/26/2007 20:40:09 MST Print View

Is it a newer model?

Adam Klagsbrun
(klags) - MLife

Locale: Northeast US
I know, old thread... on 06/24/2014 19:43:29 MDT Print View

I couldn't help myself because I came across this thread while searching for photos of my jacket online. I was really happy to see this review. I got my hands on one of these jackets in 2007/2008 when a shop owner made the mistake of letting me try on his sample from RAB... so yeah, to answer your question, it is a different color than the one's RAB sold because these orange ones were an early run and were given to testers and store owners who were signing up with RAB early on in the market here in the US. I liked that jacket and the color so much that I literally insisted he sell it to me, and he did. I have owned it ever since. I have used it on every backpacking trip, bushwhacking trip, fishing trip, road trip, and any outdoor related trip I've taken since I bought it. I have owned/destroyed from use and given away many other rain jackets, some of which weighed in at half of this jacket's weight. But you know, I wouldn't sacrifice this jacket for any other piece of gear out there. I have never loved a jacket the way I love this one. It is my favorite piece of outdoor gear, and its sad that they aren't making them anymore.