When I was asked to write about my favourite piece of Rab equipment, I was in a real quandary. I knew that last Scottish winter season the Neo Guide Jacket hardly left my back, keeping me dry and comfortable with over 100 days in the hills in some fairly extreme conditions. On the other hand the MeCo layers work in all conditions and have been with me in Scotland, the Himalayas and the Alps, in fact the MeCo 200 tee-shirt is what I am wearing at the moment in the blazing Dolomites sun after a day’s sport climbing. But when I weigh it all up, the one piece of clothing that I love above all is the Sawtooth Jacket.
Once I had eventually stepped out of the stormy Scottish weather in April it became my constant companion. It has been with me on the Cornish Sea cliffs, Scottish ice routes in the late season, mountaineering in North Wales, climbing in the Alps and the Himalayas. For my money, it provides the right level of wind proof-ness versus breathability combined with a fabric, which is light and stretchy yet able to cope with continuous rigors and still look good. I will be honest…. I have given the jacket a fair amount of mis-treatment whether scratching up a Scottish winter climb, working against the Cornish granite or being my only wind-proof jacket in the Himalayas for six weeks and yet it still looks good!
So what are the features I really like about it? I have already talked about the material, but the cut really suits me. It is generous without being too bulky, this allows it to be used over several layers as well as just over a tee-shirt. The napoleon pocket is good enough to hold my phone and a map and I now find my main issue is when wearing just a tee-shirt climbing – where do these items go! The hood is helmet compatible and doesn’t restrict my view when in use. Also, the elastic side pulls and cut of the arms allows the jacket to remain under a harness in all but the most extreme movements.
Are there any downsides? This is a really difficult question as the jacket isn’t the answer to all situations, for example I wouldn’t wear it in a deep Scottish winter where the temperature was near zero, but I would for colder, drier climates such as you get ice climbing in Norway or Italy for example. Some may consider it slightly too heavy for an alpine jacket, but for me the advantage is that it will wear well for a long time, I am personally fed up of jackets that wear or rip within the first season of use.
In conclusion, if you are after a multi-purpose jacket that will last and suit many occasions, I would recommend the Sawtooth.