The Rab Downpour Plus 2.0 Rain Jacket
– Price: $185
– Weight: 13.2 oz (374 g)
– Waterproofing Fabric: 2.5 layer Pertex Shield
– Waterproofing Rating: 20,000mm
– Number of pockets: 2
– What we like: Lightweight, breathable, super packable
– What we don’t: Not the most waterproof or durable
The Wise Adventurer’s Verdict
This is a review of the Rab Downpour Plus 2.0, a budget-friendly rain shell with a surprisingly technical spec sheet.
“For climbers, by climbers.” That’s been Rab’s mantra since the company got its start back in 1981, when ardent climber and company namesake Rab Carrington started sewing sleeping bags together by hand in his upstairs attic.
Obviously the brand has come a long way since, but their central aim has stayed the same: Make good gear that lasts without being overly complex. Their Downpour Plus 2.0 is a great example of that, a lightweight rain jacket that relies on a simple 2.5 layer Pertex membrane and waterproof zippers to deliver solid weather protection and outstanding breathability.
While there are plenty of great softshell options out there, the Downpour caught our attention due to its technical build coupled with a sub-$200 price tag. At a glance this jacket has all the makings of an excellent garment for active pursuits like running or cycling, so we decided to bring it along for a wet weekend in the backcountry to see how it holds up against other popular models.
(Want to learn more about how we test rain gear? Check out our in depth process here.)
Detailed Evaluation of the Rab Downpour Plus 2.0 Rain Jacket
Our testing of the Rab Downpour included a long weekend of wet weather hiking and backpacking, a few nights of casual camping, and a few weeks of general use around-town as well. All of this was part of our yearly testing of the best rain jackets on the market. Our aim is to subject the jacket to all the most common use cases our readers will encounter, and to find out first hand how well it delivers on important metrics like water protection, breathability, and comfort.
Rab outfits the Downpour Plus 2.0 with a 2.5-layer Pertex membrane, and if you’re not familiar with Pertex, it’s good stuff. Pertex is the fabric we often turn to for more aerobic endeavors as it provides a great balance of protection and breathability. This jacket in particular gets the Pertex “Shield” variety, which is engineered to be more waterproof than Pertex’s other options (it’s rated to a whopping 20,000mm), so needless to say, expectations were high.
Overall we found the Rab Downpour 2.0 kept us dry in light to moderate rain, but we weren’t particularly impressed with the DWR coating on the face fabric. Our testers commented that the fabric’s willingness to absorb water felt more like a six month old jacket that was due for a refresh than a crisp new rain shell, which was a bit of a letdown considering Rab’s claims of elevated protection.
Mind you, the membrane itself never actually allowed any water to slip through over the course of a two hour hike, and the soft interior backing prevented any clamminess or plastic feeling to slip through, but we probably wouldn’t choose the Downpour for an actual downpour given the circumstances.
Aside from that, we loved this jacket’s other wet weather features, which include well-made waterproof zippers backed with zipper garages throughout the garment’s construction for peace of mind. We’re also big fans of the Downpour’s hood, which uses a two way adjustment and an effective polymer-backed brim to keep rolling moisture outside where it belongs.
We’ve always found breathability to be a hallmark of Pertex membranes, and the Rab Downpour Plus 2.0 was one of the most breathable shells we’ve tested in years. This is hands down the most breathable jacket we’ve tried under the $200 mark, and as is often the case with softshells at any price, much more breathable than most of the three layer competition.
We also appreciate that Rab doubles down on the breathability factor here by adding large pit zips to the equation. These are the same laminated/waterproof zippers found in the pockets, which means when they’re completely watertight when closed, but should you need to dump extra heat during hiking, biking, or climbing exploits, this jacket is up to the task.
Fit and Comfort
Our testers found the Rab Downpour Plus 2.0 was exceptionally comfortable out of the box, and stayed that way no matter what sort of tests they put it through. The light and airy softshell construction feels nearly weightless on your shoulders, so much so that our testers reported they’d often forget they were wearing a rain jacket at all.
Both the interior and exterior fabric have a soft feel to them, and we noted the Rab lacked the usual crunchiness or stiffness that’s common in budget-friendly rain gear. The fabric itself isn’t stretchy, but we didn’t have any issues with freedom of movement either regardless of what sort of base/mid layers we paired with the downpour.
We also noted that the jacket’s outstanding breathability played a big role in the jacket’s overall comfort. The Pertex membrane, combined with the Downpour’s two large pit zips, made this jacket a favorite for heavily aerobic activities like running or biking, and the Downpour was also one of the fastest drying jackets in our field test, so even when the face fabric took on moisture, it didn’t take long to dry once the rain stopped.
If you’re considering the Downpour, it’s important to know that you’ll be sacrificing a degree of durability in exchange for a lighter and more breathable garment. This quality isn’t unique to the Downpour Plus 2.0, as pretty much every softshell jacket we’ve tested comes with a similar tradeoff, but it’s something you’ll want to keep in mind just the same.
In the case of the Downpour, this is due to the 40D face fabric, which feels particularly thin compared to other budget-friendly favorites like the Patagonia Torrentshell. Granted, we never actually managed to scuff, tear, or puncture the material, but as is often the case with lightweight/breathable outerwear, we wouldn’t say durability is a highlight of the build overall.
Weight and Packability
The Rab Downpour Plus 2.0 doesn’t include a stuff sack/stash pocket in its construction, but our testers still rated it among the best in the field for packability. The Downpour rolls up tightly into its hood, stuffing down to around the same volume as the minimalist Marmot Precip Eco we tested it alongside.
Weight wise, we found Rab’s reported 13.2 oz weight to be accurate, which makes the Downpour 2.0 a serviceable candidate for stashable weather protection on the go. It’s by no means the lightest jacket out there, and you’ll even find a few hardcore hardshells like the Arcteryx Beta Jacket LT that outclass it considerably in this regard, but we felt its combination of comfort, breathability, and packability were well worth a few extra ounces.
One of the areas we felt the Downpour truly excelled was its laundry list of premium features, which were a particularly nice touch considering its price. The jacket nails all the basics like a stashable two-way adjustable hood (which works with a helmet) and hip-belt friendly hand pockets, but it doesn’t stop there either.
We were particularly impressed by Rab’s use of waterproof YKK Aquaguard zippers in the Downpour, which are typically reserved for much more expensive shells. The same could be said for the jacket’s brushed lining at the neck and chin, which prevents the uber-annoying pinching and pulling of facial hair often associated with budget-friendly outerwear.
By the end of our testing, we felt the Rab Downpour Plus 2.0 would be an excellent value for some, and not so great for others.
If you’re looking for a solid all-around jacket for high-exertion activities, the Downpour delivers an impressive degree of softshell-style breathability with enough protection baked in for light to moderate rain. It’s also packable and reasonably lightweight, which makes it an attractive alternative to more expensive options like the outstanding Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic we tested earlier this year.
On the other hand, if you’re just looking for reliable rain protection for hiking, backpacking, or camping, we feel there are a few options out there that will deliver better performance for the money. Both the Patagonia Torrentshell and REI XeroDry GTX we tested the Downpour alongside deliver better rain protection and durability for under $200 while still remaining reasonably light and packable.
What We Like
Overall we found a lot to like about the Rab Downpour Plus 2.0. It’s impressively breathable, comfortable, and packable, and works great for more active pursuits. It also includes a surprising amount of premium features, which makes it particularly attractive for a sub-$200 rain jacket.
Waterproof zippers, a stashable hood, and pack-friendly hip pockets all add major value for us here, even if the jacket isn’t the most durable option in our testing. We feel that with an added spray-on DWR treatment, the Downpour could truly excel as an all-rounder, although we have yet to actually try it ourselves.
What We Don’t Like
Our main gripe with the Downpour is its overall rain protection. Granted, this isn’t uncommon for more lightweight/breathable shells, but we were expecting better performance from a jacket sporting a 20,000mm waterproof rating and a 2.5-layer Pertex Shield membrane.
We also wouldn’t give the Downpour high marks as far as durability goes, as the soft face fabric isn’t the kind of thing we’d want to stuff into a full pack and walk around with all day. Again, we didn’t actually manage to damage any portion of the jacket during testing, but we could easily see this shell losing its luster after a few seasons.
- Patagonia Torrentshell 3L: A well-proven three-layer membrane at a similar price. Weighs a bit more, but features a thicker fabric and stuffs into its own pocket. Read our full test and review…
- REI XeroDry GTX: Name brand GoreTex weather protection for even less money. Performance benefits pending testing. Read our full test and review…
- Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic: Even lighter, more breathable, and comfortable, albeit at a premium price. Read our full test and review…
The Bottom Line…
Ultimately our testers felt that the Rab Downpour Plus 2.0 would be a great jacket for some, and less than ideal for others. It’s light, super breathable, and impressively packable, making it a great candidate for fitness-focused hikers, runners, or bikers who prioritize heat management over outright protection.
For your typical weekend camper, backpacker, or daily user, however, the Downpour’s asking price could be better spent on other budget-friendly alternatives. Jackets like the Patagonia Torrentshell are proven both in terms of durability and weather protection, so if you don’t need the extra breathability, there are better options out there that will deliver more bang for the buck.