Weight: 300g (size 10)
Rab have updated their synthetic isulated Xenon jacket and I’ve been trying it out for last few months as the weather has turned colder.
The insulation is Primaloft Gold Active and I’ve found the warmth for weight ratio to be excellent. Although the jacket feels thin when you first put it on, the combination of wind resistance and insulation has proved an equal to my current lighter down jacket without having to worry about it getting wet in our Scottish climate.
The Pertex Quantum outer fabric provides a good wind barrier and feels comfortably soft although it does snag easily (no pushing through overgrown gorse in this jacket) and there is sign of slight wear and thread pulls on the underarm area after a few months use. The water resistence is okay, I’d happily wear it during scattered showers and it dries fairly quickly. It does retain most of its warmth when wet although I’d never choose to let it get soaked. I’d also prefer a slightly less shiny looking material, this jacket doesn’t have the looks to transfer to trendy high streets (perfect for my Highland hometown though!).
There have been grumbles about this jacket’s breathability in the past, but I’ve found this version acceptable, veering towards good, even when worn under a breathable waterproof. The jacket wicks extremely well, transferring sweat from under a backpack to the outside of the pertex shell more rapidly than other synthetic insulators I’ve tried.
The fit is on the slim side and not overly long – the slight scooped back on the size 10 almost covering my bottom – I’m 5’3″ (1.6m). There is a hem drawcord here, adjustable on both sides. The fit means it layers well under waterproofs or another insulated layer for winter stops on the hill, making it a versitile option.
The two hand warmer pockets are large but only partially accessible with a rucksack hipbelt, although they are insulated on both front and back avoiding cold spots. The napolean chest pocket, accessed under the front zip, is bigger than some, easily swallowing a phone and compass but too small for a map. This also serves as the stow pocket, which when zipped could be used as a small camp pillow. The YKK, two-way, front zip is robust but the tag is a little fiddly for winter gloves. There is however a fleecy chinguard for comfort and the close-fitting, non-adjustable, hood is well designed to move with your head with good protection from the cold and wind for the mouth and face sides when totally zipped up. The hood is designed to fit under helmets. I’d prefer adjustable cuffs but that would lead to more weight, so I think Rab have the balance right on this one. The jacket packs away neatly and has no issues re-lofting after being roughly squashed down into a pack for long periods.
The Rab Xenon is available in women’s sizes 8 – 16 and three colours, navy blue, electric blue, and cherry. The men’s version comes in sizes XS – XXL and colours, black, dark blue, and paprika red. The features and price are the same between the men’s and women’s apart from the cut, so the men’s version may be a good option for some women as well.
Pros: Good insulation for low weight, comfortable, wind and water resistant
Cons: Durability of outer layer