Whenever winter would come around, I used to dread going out. No matter how thick and warm my coats seemed, I always felt like I was freezing. The same goes for all my other outdoor clothes. Despite the cost, my need for warmth made me wonder if Rab clothing was worth the price.
Rab is certainly a highly recommended company in the outdoor clothing and gear market. However, there are other companies that are also popular leading names in the field.
Why then, if there are other, sometimes cheaper options available, would anyone choose to purchase from one of the more expensive companies currently selling outerwear apparel?
Rab clothing is made out of high-quality material. It’s made to be durable and withstand the elements. Though it’s an expensive brand, if you get a lot of use out of your outdoor apparel, it might be worth it for you to invest in some Rab pieces, especially if you’ve been able to test them first.
In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about what makes this clothing brand so expensive. From the company motto to what they make, there’s a lot to cover about why Rab is able to stay in business at its current prices.
This information can be crucial in helping you choose a brand that will provide your closet with the most value. You’ll get a side-by-side comparison with some of Rab’s leading competitors in the field. That way you can see just where the differences lie between them without having to search them out in stores for yourself.
I’ll also take you through some of the brand’s values and qualities, allowing you to judge for yourself whether the steep price tags are justified. By the time you’re done reading this article, you’ll know for sure whether purchasing their pieces is the right decision for you.
Who Are Rab?
Rab is a UK-based company specializing in the production of outdoor clothing and equipment. Their clothing is popular among mountain climbers and avid hikers who enjoy going out in cold temperatures. Though their first products were sleeping bags, the company is also known for its coats.
What sets Rab apart from other similar brands is its founder.
The company was founded in the 1980s by a mountain climber, meaning that the brand had particular standards when it came to its products from the get go.
In fact, the brand’s motto is “We are the Mountain People,” so it’s clear they take their mountaineering gear very seriously.
Over the years, Rab has built a dedicated community of supporters who continue to choose the company’s gear despite the hefty price tag.
This community even includes some notable faces in the climbing world like Jules Littlefair and Nate Smith. That means the company also gets to claim that its products are the top-choice for many professional mountaineering expeditions.
Rab has also put forth a concerted effort to reduce its carbon footprint and become a net-zero emissions company in recent years.
They’ve done this by optimizing their production to reduce carbon emissions.
They’ve also opted to use higher-quality materials that are less damaging to the environment.
The company also practices “small-batch” production. That means they don’t overproduce their products right away. Instead, they produce small batches to sell and then make more of the items experiencing the highest demand.
This practice reduces the number of Rab items that eventually end up in land-fills because they’re not sold. Unfortunately, this means fewer items go on sale because there is less overstock of merchandise in stores.
While not yet as recognizable as some other outdoor apparel companies, particularly world-wide, Rab has been going strong for four decades and is on its way to being a premier mountain gear supplier.
If the company continues with their current rate of growth in popularity, they will soon become one of the most famous and popular outdoor apparel and gear brands on the market.
What Does Rab Make?
Rab makes outdoor equipment and apparel, including winter jackets, sleeping bags, tents, shelter tarps, backpacks, hats, shoes, winter accessories, along with insulated tops and bottoms.
As far as the brand’s equipment and gear selection goes, Rab has a decades-long reputation for manufacturing some of the highest-quality items in the business. However, its name started gaining popularity through the company’s sleeping bags. Today, the company’s sleeping bag selection has only grown.
Rab provides a wide selection of sleeping bags based on the kind of activity you want to partake in and the temperatures you can expect to encounter.
You can also purchase tents, shelter tarps, and sleeping mats from Rab, all designed to withstand storms and various temperatures depending on the product.
Moving towards apparel, Rab also offers a selection of expedition backpacks you can purchase. No matter if you’re a city explorer, a casual hiker, or a full-on climber, you can find a backpack to suit your adventuring needs with Rab.
Finally, and what you’re probably most interested in, Rab offers different types of clothing you can purchase. Their sizes and styles are divided into men and women, so, unfortunately, children’s clothes aren’t available yet.
However, the selection they do have available is quite diverse and covers all your bases. You can purchase jackets, hats, and shoes, as well as anything else you need to keep yourself warm.
You can even purchase layering pieces such as pants and shirts designed to be worn under the rest of your clothes for extra heat insulation and warmth.
However, their product selection doesn’t end here. You can also purchase warm tops and pants of various lengths and materials designed for outer layering.
Though known for their insulated jackets, you can also buy t-shirts and shorts, which are suitable for warmer weather expeditions or even everyday wear.
What Makes Rab Expensive?
Fabric quality, sustainability, ethical production practices, and a high demand are all factors that make Rab pieces very expensive. Their gear and attire might fall on the higher end of the industry’s price range, but their quality and longevity makes them worth it.
As I’ve already mentioned, Rab’s products are meant for people who love the great outdoors.
Since the company knows that its clients are likely going to be wearing their gear in all types of weather and temperature conditions, the material used to make everything needs to be of premium quality.
Rab has paid particular attention to how they insulate their sleeping bags and jackets.
They use premium feather-down or recycled material to create their undulating fabric so they can guarantee that the equipment will keep you warm.
According to the company, their feather-down is different from the down you’ll find in most jackets. The feathers are washed and come from more mature geese than other companies’ products. This quality makes their products suitable even for most people with down allergies.
However, because this material requires a few extra steps in its processing, it is even more expensive to source.
Their other materials are also all organic and recycled when possible. For example, their t-shirts are made out of 100% organic cotton.
On the other hand, their waterproof products are made out of completely recycled material. As you can imagine, these practices, while producing pleasant-feeling, long-lasting fabrics, can also get pretty costly.
Rab is also a company committed to being ecologically sustainable. It is currently considered a climate-net company, which means that the number of greenhouse emissions it produces is nullified by the number of emissions and pollution it reduces.
This is done, in part, by its use of recycled products and high-quality materials.
However, the company also produces its products in small batches compared to other companies of similar sizes and popularity. This means that fewer products get wasted, aiding the ongoing issue of overfilled landfills that get created as a result of fast fashion’s incredibly fast trend cycles.
While that might mean that you won’t find as many Rab items at a deep discount as you might with other companies, you also won’t find any of their jackets or tents in landfills.
The company’s factories also run using renewable energy, and even their shipping providers are all considered climate-neutral.
Unfortunately, the company’s commitment to being sustainable comes at a cost. At this time, the “green” options employed by Rab are still more expensive than their other, more climate-damaging alternatives. This means the company has to pay more to make and deliver their products, and so do you as the consumer.
Rab isn’t just concerned with its eco-sustainability, it’s also committed to being a humanely ethical company as well. As you may have guessed, this is another reason behind the business’s switch to incorporating more recycled material.
The sourcing approach for down feathers is complicated, with many humane societies condemning the practice due to the often inhumane treatment of the geese used.
While Rab has always used premium down from more ethically sourced down feathers, it is still considered an inhumane process. By formulating a new, recycled down that doesn’t sacrifice insulation, the company is able to make strides in becoming a more ethical company.
Many of Rab’s products are made in England, which guarantees higher and more fair wages for its workers. This means that the products are made in ethical factories by most standards.
However, because the workers are treated fairly and aren’t overworked the way cheap-labor factory workers are, the products are more expensive to make.
Even Rab’s products made in China are made in factories that have been certified as having better working conditions than many of their counterparts. By paying more for Rab products, you’re supporting a company that takes pride in having ethically sourced and produced products.
Supply & Demand
The final reason why Rab clothing is so expensive is pure supply and demand. Rab has managed what so few companies can: they created high-quality, durable clothes in timeless and popular designs loved by people of all demographics.
The company’s jackets are easily one of its most popular items not only among climbers, but among regular people looking to withstand harsh winter climates as well.
These jackets are all lightweight and warm. Since they’re made for hiking and climbing, they aren’t bulky and are designed to give you a full range of motion while you wear them.
Given that these jackets are one of their most highly-requested items and the company makes their products in smaller batches to ensure less waste, there’s a discrepancy between supply and demand.
While the former stays limited at a fixed amount of items per season, the latter grows exponentially as new, younger audiences are introduced to the brand’s qualitative attire. As a result, prices will inevitably increase to balance out the two market forces once again.
As long as there’s a customer base willing to pay Rab’s hefty prices, there’s no logical or financial reason for the brand to lower them.
What Alternatives Are There?
Rab alternatives include The North Face, Patagonia, Columbia, and Marmot. All these companies offer similar gear and attire at roughly the same price range.
The North Face
The North Face is easily one of Rab’s strongest competitors. This company has made a name for itself in the world of outdoor clothing, particularly jackets.
While also a pretty expensive brand, The North Face is known for the quality of its products. Customers loyal to this company swear by the durability and longevity of their products..
Another advantage that draws a large customer base to this brand is that, unlike Rab, The North Face makes gear and attire for children as well.
Suppose you’re someone who follows quite a few celebrities and is interested in fashion. In that case, you also might be more prone to opt for this company due to its collaborations with celebrities like Hailey Bieber and other designers like MM6.
The North Face also has the luxury of having been founded in the United States of America. While this isn’t always the case, many American-founded brands that gain popularity often become more recognized around the world.
This is due to the increased number of globally-known celebrities that call America home, which gives The North Face more opportunities to be seen by the international market.
The USA also has many mountain regions and national parks that are world renown.
The North Face has capitalized on this recognition and has made sure to market itself through camping and hiking expeditions, which has bled into its international image as well.
While you’re not going to be saving much money by shopping with this brand, Patagonia is another excellent Rab alternative.
Patagonia is another company that’s highly committed to help reduce climate change, so if sustainability is an essential factor for you to consider when shopping, you can’t go wrong with this brand.
Patagonia might have Rab beat on that front.
The company also makes an effort to share information with their clients on how to reuse or repair their damaged products so that, when your Patagonia jacket tears, you don’t always have to run and buy a new one.
Patagonia will even recommend buying second-hand rather than new if you can find one of its products in a thrift or consignment shop.
Due to the company’s employment of sometimes emotionally charged promotional material about saving the environment, they’ve managed to cultivate a loyal following.
However, Patagonia isn’t just famous for its dedication to the environment. The brand’s outerwear is also high-quality and produced to last several years.
While not a “discount” brand by any means, you don’t always have to purchase these products full-price, as the company holds several sales throughout the year. Not to mention you can always buy used and not worry about sacrificing quality.
Columbia is easily the most affordable and readily available Rab outerwear competitor.
Popular in the USA but available worldwide, Columbia’s jackets have made a name for themselves without flashy marketing schemes.
Columbia doesn’t offer as wide of a range of products as Rab. However, their jackets might give Rab’s a run for their money, especially if you don’t intend to wear yours while trekking through snowy mountains regularly.
Columbia’s jackets are waterproof, durable, and are good at keeping out the worst of the cold in most situations you’re likely to find yourself in.
Unlike Rab, you can also purchase jackets for the whole family with Columbia. They make children’s sizes that can be found in many non-specialized stores, especially when the weather starts to get colder.
Coming in at a fraction of the price of a Rab jacket while still maintaining a reasonably similar quality, it can be hard to justify paying Rab’s prices.
However, it’s worth noting that, since Rab’s prices are the same across the board, Columbia’s can change a bit depending on the retailer and design.
That means that, while you’re guaranteed a good quality Rab jacket no matter where you purchase it, you may have to pay closer attention to Columbia’s products.
Marmot could be thought of as a sort of US version of Rab.
This company manufactures similar products to Rab that also span from tents and backpacks to apparel made for the great outdoors, all of which are made of high-quality materials.
However, like Rab, this high-quality also comes at a high price tag.
If you’re based in the US, Marmot will be your better option. While you can find Rab products internationally, shipping costs will be much lower when buying Marmot items, as they’ll be coming from within the same country.
However, if you’re not from the US, you may have some difficulties buying from this brand.
As of right now, you can only order directly from Marmot if you’re located in North America. You may be able to find Marmot products for sale with other retailers, or you may be able to find a second-hand piece, but it won’t be quite as easy to find these products in general.
If you do find Marmot clothes or gear, though, you’re guaranteed durable items that will last you a long time and fare well in all adventuring conditions. Additionally, you get a full 60 days to use what you buy before you have to commit to keeping it or now.
Marmot is also considered more “fashionable” compared to Rab. While you can still find clothes that are perfect for hiking and camping, you can also find plenty of warm, lightweight jackets that are suitable for daily use as well.
Is Rab Clothing Worth Buying?
Rab clothing is usually worth buying. It can be easy to get turned off by the brand’s price point; however, if you’re looking for a high-quality, long-lasting, ethically-made piece of outdoor attire or equipment, the hefty price might be worth it.
Rab offers premium quality items that could easily sell for more than they do already. You’re guaranteed either durable, sustainably sourced recycled products or hypo-allergenic materials like pure cotton when you purchase from them.
Even the down used could be considered hypo-allergenic, so you don’t have to worry about your jacket or sleeping bag causing any type of reaction if you’re sensitive to down feathers.
Since Rab products are of such high quality, you don’t have to worry about them deteriorating even with regular use in rough conditions. While your Rab jacket won’t last forever, you likely won’t have to worry about ripped seams and faded colors for many years.
Some people even claim that a single jacket can last a lifetime, which means the hefty price might be justified after all.
Having said that, it’s ultimately up to you whether Rab clothes are worth their cost. If you don’t think you’ll get much use out of the items you’re interested in, then it might be better for you to look for a lower-cost alternative.
For example, if you live in a fairly moderate climate and aren’t planning on going on any adventurous trekking or hiking expeditions any time soon, you probably won’t get much use out of such premium-quality items.
However, if you can picture yourself using your Rab t-shirt, pants, or outerwear regularly, then Rab might be the choice for you.
The cost per use will be much lower than cheaper, lower-quality items, especially if you’re one of the lucky customers who finds that they never have to replace their Rab products again.