Our Taunton Shop Manger Dom has put this jacket through its paces on a long term test, read his thoughts below.

The Rab Namche features the new environmentally conscious Gore-Tex fabric.  It’s built with 100% recycled, fluorocarbon-free fabric and fluorocarbon-free membrane; but is it as good as before? I walked 38 miles across Dartmoor to find out.

First impressions are that the jacket feels (and sounds) softer. There seems to be less of that ‘crisp packet’ crinkle that is synonymous with shell jackets. The Namche is a Gore-Performance 3-layer jacket that feels more like Gore-Paclite. The outer fabric is 70D, making it very durable, and all zips are YKK Aquagaurd. The jacket has ‘pit-zips’, two large front pockets positioned a little higher to avoid hip-belts, 3 point adjustable hood, adjustable cuffs and an adjustable hemline.

It ticks all the right boxes for a hillwalking jacket and in in the field these features were very practical. The front pockets are more than large enough to carry a map, a water bottle or a mid-layer. The pit-zips are large enough to allow some good ventilation and the cuffs pull in nice and tight. The volume reducer, on the back of the hood, is very secure and there is a additional soft piece of fabric that makes it comfortable on your forehead.

I found the external toggles that pull the hood around your face to be effective. But for me they seemed redundant given how effective the volume reducer was. Throughout my testing I did not have any issues with the hood gaping, allowing wind/rain to be of concern, and it turned with my head as expected.

Personally I would have liked a popper, somewhere around sternum height, to stop the jacket flapping in the wind when undone, however you only really see this on ultralight running wear.

I am 6’2” (with extra-long arms) and about a 40” chest and 32” waist. The size medium was a great fit for me, with sleeves that went down just past my wrist and with room to comfortably get a bulky insulated jacket underneath.

So, how did the new membrane hold-up? If you have ever spent time on Dartmoor, at this time of year, you know that you can encounter little bitty stinging rain…big old fat rain. Rain that comes in sideways and sometimes rain just seems to come up from underneath.

Well I was on Dartmoor for 12 hours, it rained for around 10, and I am sure I experienced all of the above. I wore a long sleeve base-layer under the jacket and had a mid-layer in my pocket. I kept the pit-zips open the whole time, jacket zipped to the top and hood up. I think the DWR had given up around 5-6 hours but the jacket held out for the entire walk; I was dry and comfortable all the way from Okehampton to Ivybridge.

Like many, breathability is often a concern and trick is to wear a performance base layer in order to turn any sweat into a vapour so that it can escape the membrane. The reason I had the mid-layer in my pocket is because the start of my journey was warm and I had to remove it. Temperatures for the day ranged from 13°C to 8°C, there was light wind and it rained [nearly all day].

I have been wearing the jacket in unfavourable conditions for a couple of months and am yet to re-proof it or have any issues with leaking or condensation. I really should wash and re-proof it now; it wets out almost instantly. The new Gore-tex membrane has, in my eyes, proven it’s worth and is very capable for a days hiking in some terrible conditions.

Some general tips for your shell jacket:

  • Wear a long-sleeved performance base layer to manage internal moisture.
  • Try to wear only when it is raining; they are not really designed to be worn all day and you might start to get overly sweaty.
  • Reproof when the outer fabric no longer beads water. The reproofing is to replenish the DWR on the outer and not re-waterproof the membrane. Washing and re-proofing is to maintain the breathability; the waterproof membrane is largely unaffected.
  • Remember that wearing your jacket in urban areas will mean smog and grime, from cars etc. will dirty the fabric and reduce it’s performance, as will your sweat.