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August 2020 Issue
Home / Gear reviews / Insulated jackets

Rab Kaon

The Rab Kaon is a minimalist jacket with insulation where you need it.

Price:

$399.95

Our Rating:

Plusses: Clever zoned insulation, breathable underarm panels, lightweight.
Minuses: No handwarmer pockets.

Features: This jacket has a lightweight ripstop nylon fabric outer and inner lining, stitched into small rectangular baffles to hold insulation in place. It weighs 250g (m), 235g (w).

The insulation is a mix of hydrophobic 800-fill power European goose down (found in the hood, front, back and arms) and ‘Stratus’ synthetic insulation (found in the hood, shoulders, hip and cuffs). Uninsulated underarm panels are used to improve breathability and mobility. It has a drawcord hem and elastic cuffs to seal in warmth. There’s just one pocket – at the chest – and it comes with a separate stuff-sack.

Fit: It has a slim fit that hugs the body and effectively traps air. The loose-fitting hood can’t be adjusted and goes beneath a helmet. The arm length is good but sleeves do move up slightly when outstretched. 

Comfort: Such a light jacket can’t help but be comfortable. During activity, the underarm panels help reduce overheating while the hood kept me warm while stationary. 

In use: Despite its weight and the uninsulated underarm panels, the jacket provided a lot of warmth thanks to the clever use of zoned insulation. Using synthetic insulation at the hips and shoulders allows the fill to be compressed by pack straps and belts, but to also remain effective at generating warmth. The 800FP down is exceptional quality and envelops the wearer in warmth, especially with the hood pulled up.

I found myself overheating during pre-dawn bushwalks in temperatures as low as 3℃, but only on the uphills. Mostly I kept a good temperature despite a brisk pace.

I did miss having handwarmer pockets, but this jacket is built for fast-paced activity – climbing and walking – not standing around, so it makes sense to drop these in favour of a lighter product.

I feel the nylon outer fabric is on the light side and I prefer a stuff sack to be integral to the jacket – I would eventually lose the separate sack the jacket comes with. But these complaints don’t affect its performance. 

Value: It’s a technologically advanced jacket utilising the best of both types of insulation. It can be used from sea level to alpine environments.

Verdict: A lightweight versatile jacket for active winter pursuits.

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