It’s been a while since I donned some WL Gore membrane and for good reason. Where once it held the unassailable KOM of performance, over the past decade we have seen increasing competition in the waterproof fabric leagues. New fabrics, membranes and ways of utilising (body mapping/hybrid) have created a more competitive and innovative market, which for you and I, the end consumer, results in a better product and hopefully, a more enjoyable experience.
Gore-Tex on the whole, is often seen as a winter jacket, given the rows of Pro jackets lining outdoor shops and websites, but, for many years now, Active has been part of their range, and lately, had far less attention thanks to Shake-Dry stealing headlines.
But for those who want something light, waterproof and durable, Active presents a blend that also comes in more affordable than its Shake sibling.
At 170cm and 75kg, I’m neither a giant nor light
Please note this has been tested in the summer and not in winter with gloves or extra layers underneath
The size small has plenty of room left in the arms, as you can see from the overlaps above and much like the Phantom I reviewed last week, Rab say the Pacer Jacket is slim fit. If you’re thinking of sticking a Microlight underneath, do not fool yourself, you’ll be in a pool of sweat from the effort taken trying to thumb it in, not from the down’s insulations properties. As you will be subject to later, if you’re not bean stick thin, the jacket definitely hugs you and you can see its tort around my hips.
Before anyone asks, “is it true to size” there is no such thing – check out Rab’s Size and Fit Guides to see where the measurements stack up against your own unique lumps and bumps.
Given I’ve mentioned Gore-Tex so many times in the opening lines, I’m sure 42.7% of you are wondering what has been used and how does it perform. Despite its weight, the Pacer is a full 3 layer jacket utilising 13D GORE-TEX® ACTIVE. This gives the jacket a heavier and more substantial feel on the body, as well as in hand. Yes, when things are warmer, you are going to feel it, in the same way wearing a thicker top over a thin one. Whereas I wore the Phantom on mixed days when use as a windproof was possible, I saved the Pacer for only those days when the rain was going to last and be substantial. This is a jacket that wants to be wet and in wind. If I were racing I’d pick the Phantom, if I was spending a day in the hills with friends on a social run or shooting a race where I was running to different locations, I’d pick the Pacer for its additional weight, coverage, insulation when things turn south.
Compared to the Phantom which weighed 84 grams (size small), the Pacer clocks in at 221 grams (size small). The 137 gram weight difference is not down to the material alone, as this does have more bells and whistles to show for its £230 price tag.
Unlike the Rab Phantom and Montane Podium, I have not misplaced the supplied stuff sac….
Hood up, that looks like waterproof jacket now
Compared the Phantom, the Pacer provides more protection from the elements, with a larger, deeper hood, coupled with a significant drop tail and more substantial chin/neck coverage.
The hood has a much larger peak, stiffened with wire at the front (bonus points awarded) that sit independently from your face. The elastic that is clearly visible around my cheeks runs under the hood too, meaning you get more a seal from the elements, while allowing the peak to sit proudly forward, offering greater coverage from those rain drops that try to temporarily blind you with laser guided accuracy. The elasticated parts have much more, erm, elastic than the Phantom, a real pull in fact, reducing the opportunity for nature working its way in.
As you can see above, the elastic is broader and the peak sits much further forward, reducing the potential need to enhance eye protection with a cap. You may have also noticed that big dangling thing to the rear. Yes, its a pull chord and the seam in which its elastic is located in is clearly visible around my head. Now you can really batten down the hatches when nature wants you to suffer.
Feast your eyes on that sucker. Easy for use with heavy weight gloves and look, a hanging loop to dry your jacket from. Much like the Phantom it has the same hood retention system using webbing with a couple of poppers to snap it down and out the way (see video)
On the whole – I like the hood. It offers great coverage and security when up. However, I have a gripe. When the hood is down, the elastic around the face hole/opening grips my neck and its not a pleasant experience. Yes, my neck is pretty beefy at 16+ inches but thats no reason for me to let the designers off. Given a lot of time will be spent with the hood down, sometimes you just need to keep it off when running, its a barrier for me to grab it instinctively on a miserable day.
Under each arm pit there are permanent vents to allow that hot area to exhaust some sweat and smells. I can’t say I noticed these working in my time running, but, that’s not to say they don’t play their role in temperature/sweat regulation.
The Pacer has a full length YKK® VISLON® AquaGuard® and a skinny partner running parallel for a map/napoleon pocket. Behind the zip is a storm flap and at the very top, a spacious garage to keep the zip/top teeth from plucking your perfectly crafted mountain runners beard. These start of pretty stiff, but with few uses loosen up enough to prevent you fighting them when needing to make adjustments in a hurry.
The right sleeve has a reflective version of Rab’s Skyline logo, which boosts reflectivity when combined with the left chest brand logo and Gore-Tex logo on back panel. Of course, you aren’t expecting this to perform like a hi viz jacket.
Much like the Phantom, the cuffs are elasticated at the rear and offer no adjustment, not that any is required. There is a twin layer of fabric that sits on the back of the hand offering greater protection that a straight cuff.
On either side, there are pull adjusters to lock out the elements and these stealth pulls can be unlocked within the jacket itself and round your posterior there is a very deep drop tail to keep the rain of your big muscles.
Earlier, I said I would show you how having larger lumps is shown in this slim fit.
Well, the photographer (yes, I sweet talk someone to talk this photos, with a bribe of some Cafe Robso aeropressed coffee and home made tiramisu – they’re left buzzing!) insisted the next photo should show my curves, rather than leave it hanging naturally.
They say a picture says a thousand words – I’ve nothing more to say
So with my buttocks etched into the back of your skull – no apologies or take backs – what are my thoughts on Rab’s Pacer Jacket?
As running jackets go, this offers more protection/coverage than the vast majority I’ve tested. The features are well thought out and reduce the fuss and faff of using it when on the run. Personally, the hood elastic unfortunately detracts from the many good points. But, if the relationship with my neck is the only thing I can complain about, something that is unique to all of us, is that enough for me to not recommend it.
The Pacer excels in what it does and its the sort of jacket many of us should be looking at, in a world that is obsessed by what the running elite wear at UTMB and other major races. When theres a good chance the majority of us will spend between 30-100% longer on the course, we should be dressing to our needs and not theirs.
Sort the hood, when down, for us ex rugby playing short arses and this would get my full thumbs up.
To find out more about Rab’s Pacer Lightweight Waterproof – Click HERE
This is not a sponsored post or paid advertisement – product provided free of charge for the review by Rab Equipment