Over the last four or so years, Rab has been on top of the technical fabric world, churning out shell after category-smashing shell. That streak continues with the Phantom, which, as the lightest waterproof/breathable shell on the market, has the weight of a trashbag poncho, the rain protection of a hardshell, and yet somehow the airy feel of a softshell. Oh, and it packs down to the size of a kiwi.
The Phantom is made of a 2.5-layer Pertex Shield fabric that designers paired with a minimalist feature package that includes elastic cuffs, a tiny wire brim on the elastic hood that shielded us from pelting rain in the Pacific Northwest and 70-mph wind gusts in the Colorado Rockies, and an itty-bitty storage pocket at the chest that fits a gel pack or set of keys. We don’t normally love anoraks due to lack of venting, but even without pit zips, we stayed comfy on humid uphills in three seasons thanks to supreme breathability. Note: It’s too thin to be warm enough for winter.
Weather protection balances blocking rain and inhibiting sweat—in deluges that lasted more than 90 minutes, we felt some drops sneak through at the shoulder and lower back, but every tester agreed that the weight and functionality in the majority of cases more than offset its uneven performance at the watery extreme. We can only wonder what Rab will cook up next. $200; 3.1 oz. (M); unisex XS-XL