RAB’s Paradox Pull-On, much like RAB’s Strata Flex before it, literally changed how I layer. The fit is, in a word, perfect. Performance across varied conditions is exemplary, and its versatility keeps astounding me. I think I’ve used it nearly every day this past winter, and don’t foresee hanging it up in the closet anytime soon.
Fit is perfect as far as I’m concerned. The hem is long, about ¾ butt-length. The sleeves extend past my wrist, and there’s stretch in there so the Paradox stays put under a harness when reaching overhead. The torso is trim but roomy enough to fit over a base layer without constricting, and the neck is just the right size for me; if anything perhaps a touch roomy.
Features are rather sparse: there’s a very cool, ultra low-profile hem drawcord and a deep front zipper. And that’s it (as befits a piece designed specifically for layering — pockets and other bits would just add unnecessary complexity, weight and cost.)
The inner is a soft mesh lining that’s comfortable next-to-skin, but also slides easily over long-sleeve base layers. The outer is knit polyester with a smooth, snag-free face but a soft, cozy feel. It’s relatively wind-proof, though not quite as much as the Strata Flex (which has a Pertex outer).
What makes the Paradox tick is the fill: 60g/m Polartec Alpha. Extremely breathable but also incredibly warm for its weight, Alpha is one of the standout insulations of the past few years. Performance is simply astounding, and I’ve used the Paradox for everything: -15C as a mid-layer, -5C approaches, 0C hard drytooling, +5C belays. It functions across more temperature ranges than any other base- / mid- / outer- layer I’ve ever come across, and has even eclipsed the Strata Flex in my day-to-day usage. It even works well as a sweater in everyday, around-the-house use.
There’s only one downside I can think of and that is the stitching over the torso and arms. Over several months of use, many of the single-thread stitches have started to pull and look rather unsightly. The stitching goes through every layer of the Paradox, so I suspect it’s partly designed to keep the insulation in place, not just there for good looks. That said, the Paradox’s performance hasn’t suffered one bit and I just cut the threads off as they come loose.
At $150 USD / $200 CAD, the Paradox presents exceptional value for one of the most versatile pieces of clothing I’ve ever used. It also weighs just 340 grams for my Men’s Medium, which is barely 7 grams more than my previous multi-performance layering favourite, Patagonia’s Piton Hybrid Hoody (albeit the Paradox doesn’t have a hood).
Pros: lightweight, extremely breathable, warm for it’s weight, good value
Cons: quilted stitching comes loose occasionally
Overall: Another superb layering piece from RAB that works in nearly every temperature range, across most conditions and as every type of layer I can think of. Very highly recommended.