Rab Xenon X Jacket
For the first couple of weeks after this jacket arrived, I wore it as an outer layer and it was perfectly good, keeping off the wind and the cold admirably and letting me crack on with everything from walking the dog on the hill through to doing a spot of house renovation without any problems whatsoever.
It’s really lightweight and doesn’t add any particular bulk to your outfit, which given that it is an insulating jacket is quite a surprise when you feel how thin it is. In fact the Primaloft gold active insulation is so thin that it’s easy to make the mistake that this jacket is not as warm as it actually is.
I made that mistake once and I wore a much heavier waterproof outer layer on top of it during a pretty intense hike. I got to the other end and stood around in a car park for a little while before I realized that I was absolutely soaking wet and the Rab had done its job by allowing all that sweat through it and onto the inside of the waterproof jacket. I had to strip off the Rab because it really was very wet, but to its credit it dried out really quickly even on a cold day and wants dry it didn’t smell like it had been ringing wet with sweat at all.
Learning from my mistake I’ve more successfully teamed up the jacket with more breathable outerwear, and actually if you’re doing something fairly active then it’s more than enough to insulate you against a cold and crisp winter’s day on its own. It weighs just 12 ounces and it packs down impressively small into the bottom of your pack. Because of that it makes a great belay jacket or just something to take along for the end of whatever you’re doing to keep you warm.
The design is really simple with a full-length zipper leading up to a fairly snug fitting hood that has an elastic rim and keeps things fairly windproof around your ears. The chin guard is great and not once has my beard got stuck in the zipper, and it’s high enough that on a really cold day you can pull it up and hide your lips from the chill.
There are two really large hand warmer pockets, one either side, and a third internal pocket with a zipper that also doubles as the stuff sack. There are no bells and whistles to be found at the cuffs where a simple elasticated closure keeps out the breezes, and at the waist you get a drawcord, or if you prefer you can leave the jacket loose where it sits just a bit lower than your belt to keep out cold kidneys.
The outer shell of this jacket is made from pertex quantum, which is a super lightweight but incredibly close woven fabric which is shiny to the touch but really soft. It’s so tightly woven that it won’t let wind through it but as I mentioned earlier it does remain breathable when you get a sweat on.
The arm length of this jacket is good enough that you can wear it for activities where you will be raising your arms including climbing and probably even riding a bike. I found the sizing to be almost spot on which is fairly typical of Rab.
It’s such a simple looking jacket that you would be forgiven for looking at the price tag and thinking it was way too expensive for what it is, but what you are dealing with here is a combination of top end materials and a manufacturer which creates garments that are finished really well. To my mind even at £160 the jacket is a worthwhile investment if you’re the kind of person who gets out and about when it’s still cold.
This has been my go-to jacket for the last three months and the one that has lived either closest to the back door or that I have been wearing in the house. It’s one of those pieces which you can be comfortable in over quite a large range of temperatures and so it’s more adaptable than a fleece or a traditional jumper to my mind.
Rab do not sell this as a waterproof but rather as a mid layer, but having said that the quantum fabric is so tightly knit that the jacket will shed a very light shower for a few minutes which will give you time to put on a waterproof if you get caught out. I am almost legendary getting caught out so I found this a real benefit.
- Packs down nicely
- Doesn't weigh too much
- Comfortable across a wide temperature range
- On the expensive side