Our ‘Indian Summer’ has not been the ideal test environment for my Rab Stretch Neo, but luckily last week I did manage to find some poor weather. Now Hamsterley Forest Downhill mountain Biking Park, Descend, might not have been in Rab’s mind as the design brief for a waterproof jacket but I was there, it was raining!
The durable stretch nature of the Neoshell fabric lent itself perfectly to this tough environment. I would have been a lot more worried and catching a normal hardshell on tress or scuffing it on the ground but I felt very confident about the durability of the Stretch Neo. At 480g in weight the Stretch Neo actually seems to be more burly than the weight would suggest. Descend offer a shuttle service for riders so there was no slogging uphill in the rain but a very stop/start activity. The jacket coped well and I felt comfortable all day. I got warm on the downs but was always dry inside and didn’t cool off and shiver whilst waiting for the bus. As I was biking I didn’t really test out the pockets and hood of the jacket but the fit was very good even in the odd position of biking (for an outdoor jacket).
The Rab Stretch Neo isn’t ultra packable jacket but you can’t have burly, stretch and super packable form the same fabric! I thought it would be a very popular choice for most outdoor users except those looking for really lightweight and packable. I think the Stretch Neo will be particularly well suited to winter climbers who subject their outer layers to plenty of abrasion abuse but want something 100% waterproof . I am looking forward to some days out in it this winter.