RAB vs Mountain Hardwear: Which is Better?

RAB vs Mountain Hardwear outdoor gear comparison

Are you looking for some new gear and find yourself stuck between RAB and Mountain Hardwear? You’re not alone. These two brands are often at the top of any adventurer’s list.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at their histories, offerings, materials, and prices to help you figure out which might be the better fit for you.

RAB has its roots deeply planted in the climbing world. On the other hand, Mountain Hardwear since 1993 has been making waves with its high-quality materials and innovation, backed by the expertise of renowned mountaineers.

Both brands have their unique strengths. They’ve got jackets, backpacks, and other gear for different preferences and budgets.

So, whether you’re looking to invest in a durable insulated jacket for those harsh winter climbs or a lightweight backpack for your day hikes, by the end of this comparison, you’ll have a clearer idea of which brand to get your gear from.

Let’s get started!

Contents:

1. RAB Outdoor Gear

History of the Brand

RAB official website
RAB official website

RAB‘s origins can be traced back to 1981, when Rab Carrington, a Scottish mountaineer, established the company in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England, using his own name. Rab Carrington, recognized for his passion for nature, climbing, and exploration, gained fame as a skilled mountaineer among his peers.

In 1973, while stuck in Buenos Aires during a UK strike and lacking equipment, he learned to craft high-quality sleeping bags with the guidance of his friend Hector Vieytes. These skills motivated Rab Carrington to create the company.

The brand prides itself on being created “by climbers for climbers” and has made numerous products that have become iconic in the mountaineering and climbing communities.

In 2001, the brand established a partnership with Polartec, whose materials are still utilized in Rab’s gear today.

Since 2003, Rab has been under the ownership of Equip Outdoor Technologies Ltd, which has continued the brand’s heritage, designing renowned jackets such as the Microlight Alpine and others, solidifying the brand’s reputation as one of Europe’s leading providers of specialized and technical outdoor equipment.

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Materials, Fabrics, and Production Process

Every year, Rab demonstrates a strong commitment to transitioning to environmentally friendly production methods, including ethically sourcing materials and utilizing PFC-free water-repellent treatments. The brand also emphasizes the use of recycled materials and the dedication to creating durable products.

Polyester and nylon are two of the primary materials in their gear, like many other brands in the industry. Waterproof outerwear is crucial for winter, and Rab utilizes various fabric technologies to ensure dryness in any weather conditions.

These technologies include Gore-Tex, known as the standard waterproof fabric, and Pertex Shield, Proflex, and Pertex Shield+, each offering distinct performance characteristics. Rab’s waterproof fabrics are available in 2, 2.5, and 3-layer constructions, tailored to specific uses.

For breathability, the brand employs Hydrophilic and Microporous technologies, both functioning as moisture-wicking solutions.

Regarding insulation, Rab provides a wide range of natural down and synthetic insulated jackets and sleeping bags. The natural down is responsibly sourced, and the brand has introduced a line of jackets featuring 100% recycled fabrics and down insulation.

While natural down is an exceptional insulator, synthetic insulation such as Stratus, Cirrus, Pyrotec, and PrimaLoft is also widely employed due to its versatility. Rab uses this type of insulation for its synthetic-insulated jackets, sleeping bags, and gloves.

Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket | Masters of Insulation

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Read also: Marmot vs RAB: Which is Better for Outdoor Gear?

Where is RAB outdoor gear made?

Rab’s gear is produced partly in the UK, where the company is located, and the majority in Asia, in countries like China.

Recommended Products

RAB Men’s Neutrino Pro Down Jacket

RAB Mens Neutrino Pro Down Jacket
Image: rab.equipment
Check it out at rab.equipment

The RAB Men’s Neutrino Pro Down Jacket has been rebuilt with 100% recycled materials and an updated arm baffle design to improve movement. Filled with 800-fill-power European Goose Down, it delivers exceptional warmth for alpine climbing in winter conditions.

The outer shell is made of weather-resistant recycled Pertex® Quantum Pro, providing reliable protection from the elements. Despite its insulating properties, the jacket remains lightweight and easy to pack, featuring a helmet-compatible hood and a two-way YKK VISLON zip for harness compatibility.

With reinforced Ripstop on high-wear areas, the Neutrino Pro is designed for durability and a regular fit, allowing freedom of movement and layering. This jacket is engineered to excel in the vertical world.

Don’t miss: RAB vs Arc’teryx (Outdoor Gear Comparison)

RAB Aeon 35L Daypack

RAB Aeon 35L Daypack
Image: rab.equipment
Check it out at rab.equipment

The RAB Aeon 35L Daypack is a versatile backpack designed for a range of mountain activities. It features the Air Contour X carry system, providing a secure fit and the ability to handle loads while maintaining stability on challenging terrain.

The semi-rigid back panel lets air flow and conforms to the user’s body shape. Additionally, the adjustable back length and forward pull hip belt ensure a customized and comfortable fit. With a 35-liter capacity, this pack is well-suited for camping and extended outdoor excursions.

It includes convenient features such as two TipGripper walking pole attachments, a walking axe loop, and easily accessible stretch pockets for gear storage. The zippered hip belt pockets offer secure storage for small items like snacks.

Constructed from 50% recycled nylon fabric, the daypack also includes a rain cover for reliable all-weather protection.

Read next: RAB vs North Face (Outdoor Gear Comparison)

Prices

Rab jackets start at around $80 (for windbreakers and lighter options) and can reach up to $850 (for insulated down jackets and technical designs). Backpacks are priced between $60 and $250 based on the design, while the remaining gear and accessories vary.

So, a mid-to-high-end brand when it comes to prices.

Are RAB products worth the price?

RAB is widely known for manufacturing durable and high-quality gear. They are masters of insulated jackets and sleeping bags. So, yes, they’re worth it!

Learn more: Why is RAB so Expensive? Is It Worth It?

2. Mountain Hardwear Outdoor Gear

History of the Brand

Mountain Hardwear official website
Mountain Hardwear’s official website

The Mountain Hardwear name was born in California, USA, in 1993, thanks to a team previously associated with the Sierra Designs company. The important figure in propelling Mountain Hardwear to prominence was Ed Viesturs, the first American athlete to conquer fourteen peaks of over 8,000 meters.

Viesturs’ accomplishments helped with the brand’s sponsorship. Today, the company still maintains its affiliation with famous mountaineers and their expeditions.

A significant development for the brand happened in 2003 when Columbia Sportswear acquired it. Years later, the inaugural Mountain Hardwear retail outlet debuted in Portland, Oregon in 2008, marking a milestone for the brand’s expansion, with another store opening in Seattle the same year.

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Materials, Fabrics, and Production Process

Mountain Hardwear has gained renown for its use of high-quality materials and cutting-edge manufacturing techniques, enabling its products to surpass expectations. The brand’s apparel offers exceptional performance for outdoor enthusiasts and athletes.

The mountaineering gear has remarkable durability and protects against sub-zero temperatures, boasting superior thermal insulation. The brand innovates its manufacturing processes continuously, enhancing its designs to elevate athletes’ performance.

The lineup includes parkas, jackets, and other clothing made with natural down insulation, wool, and flannel fabrics, offering warmth even in the most extreme cold. Some other jackets are made of fleece, a soft material like sheep’s wool, delivering warmth while remaining comfortable on the skin.

These materials are robust, last for years, maintain consistent body heat, shield against the weather, and use the latest technology.

Mountain Hardwear incorporates various fabric technologies such as Pertex Y Fuse, various performance options of Gore-Tex, Dyneema Composite fabrics, and more. Other key materials like PrimaLoft synthetic insulation and Polartec fleece contribute to the warmth and quality of the company’s products.

Next, the brand integrates the advanced RECCO® technology, a state-of-the-art rescue system, into some of its gear. Sustainability serves as another important principle for the company’s production and ethical business operations.

Exposure/2™ Gore-Tex PACLITE® Plus Jacket

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Read also: Marmot vs Mountain Hardwear (Side-by-Side Comparison)

Where is Mountain Hardwear outdoor gear made?

Mountain Hardwear’s equipment and clothing (like other Columbia-owned labels) are manufactured mostly in Asia, in China, Bangladesh, India, and Vietnam. (source)

Recommended Products

Mountain Hardwear Men’s Ghost Whisperer/2 Hoody

Mountain Hardwear Mens Ghost Whisperer 2 Hoody
Image: mountainhardwear.com
Check it out at MountainHardwear.com

The Men’s Ghost Whisperer/2 Hoody presents an ultralight and compact down jacket suitable for various outdoor pursuits. Using 100% recycled nylon, it incorporates 800-fill RDS-certified down to ensure optimal warmth.

The garment is designed for a standard fit, offering free movement, and has practical features such as synthetic insulation at the cuffs, an adaptable hood, and zippered hand pockets. Additionally, it can be conveniently compressed into its pocket, making it ideal for travel.

Weighing approximately 8.8 ounces (249 g) for a medium size, the hoody delivers lightness and insulation, with a center-back length of 27.5 inches (69.9 cm). This option aligns with sustainability efforts, appealing to outdoor enthusiasts who want comfort while minimizing environmental impact.

Read also: Mountain Hardwear vs Patagonia (Outdoor Gear Comparison)

Mountain Hardwear Women’s JMT 25L Backpack

Mountain Hardwear Womens JMT 25L Backpack
Image: mountainhardwear.com
Check it out at MountainHardwear.com

The Women’s JMT 25L Backpack is a sturdy and lightweight daypack created for outdoor pursuits like hiking and climbing. Using a durable 500D CORDURA base, it’s designed for longevity. This backpack is tailored for women, featuring a ventilated mesh back panel and padded shoulder straps for comfortable carrying.

It also includes a convenient clamshell-style opening for easy gear access, along with a top zippered pocket for efficient organization. Side compression helps in securing the load and attachment loops are very functional for trekking poles or an ice axe.

With a simple and functional design, the pack is ideal for day hikers in search of performance and versatility.

Read next: Mountain Hardwear vs Arc’teryx (Outdoor Gear Comparison)

Prices

Mountain Hardwear is known for its mid-to-high-priced range of products, with jackets sold from $100 to $1,000, and backpacks from $90 to $450.

Are Mountain Hardwear products worth the price?

They have many designs that we love for their beautiful styles and performance. In a lot of online reviews, it’s widely accepted that this brand’s items are durable, can last for many years, are practical, and exceptionally comfortable. In our opinion, they’re worth the price.

Must read: 8 Best Sustainable Outdoor Clothing Brands: Our Top Picks

3. Which is Better for Outdoor Gear? RAB or Mountain Hardwear?

Mountain Hardwear and RAB are two of the most popular names for mountain activities. Here are our considerations and thoughts to help with your decision:

RAB:

  • British brand founded in 1981 focused on technical clothing for alpine climbing and mountaineering.
  • Known for high-performance jackets, sleeping bags, and gloves designed for extreme conditions.
  • Materials tend to be on the lightweight, minimalist side.
  • Quality is generally very good for the price.

Mountain Hardwear:

  • American brand founded in 1993 focused on outdoor and adventure gear.
  • Offers a similar range of products including clothing, jackets, tents, backpacks, and sleep systems.
  • Tends to use more durable, robust materials. Items may be heavier.
  • The quality is great and longevity is excellent.
  • The pricing is higher than RAB but still worth it for the quality.

In the end, these are two very similar brands. For extreme mountaineering where lightweight gear matters most, RAB would have a (very) slight edge. For casual outdoor and adventure use where durability is key, Mountain Hardwear can be a better choice for some products. Also, if price is a concern, with Rab you can save (a little) money. But, you can’t go wrong with either brand.

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