At a glance
Plusses: Versatile, warm, windproof, performs when wet, breathable.
Minuses: Drafty hood.
Features: The Xenon X bridges the gap between active layers and a down jacket. Synthetic insulation has improved significantly in recent years and the Primaloft Gold Active fill used here is at the leading edge of the technological advances. Combined with a largely windproof Pertex Quantum shell, the Xenon shines in cool, wet and windy conditions. It’s also surprisingly breathable, which makes it a good option for wearing during exercise on cold days in the hills.
It has a two-way front zipper and a hem drawcord, roomy hand pockets and an internal pocket that doubles as a stuff sac with a fabric loop. The jacket weighs 343g (m), 301g (w).
Fit: The jacket has a ‘loose athletic’ cut that looks smart while also being functional. I like the extra room compared with a slim fit because it allows greater ease of movement and more layering options. The sleeve and chest length, and the articulation, were also spot-on for me. The jacket doesn’t ride up when I’m climbing.
The under-helmet hood could fit more tightly, or, better still, have a drawcord for cold days (though the drawcord would be less comfortable when wearing a helmet).
Comfort: In low temperatures, the Xenon X is a picture of comfort. The polyamide lining is pleasingly silky against the skin, the Pertex shell cuts the wind and sheds light rain, and the insulation is surprisingly warm. The baffled zipper and fleece chin flap provide comfort in the cold and the wind but the loose fitting hood lets more air in than I would have liked.
In use: This is a versatile jacket. Its attractive design means that I’d just as soon wear it around town as in the hills. It’s a go-to on windy and showery days, when you need a jacket that will perform. I also like how hardwearing synthetic jackets are compared with downies. You don’t have to worry about leaking down every time you bushbash or scrape up against a rock.
Value: Given the quality of its construction and its versatility compared to the alternatives, the price is good.
Verdict: Rab’s Xenon X is an attractive and versatile cold-weather layer. Its windproofness, performance in wet weather, compressibility and hardiness make it a solid choice for those looking for one jacket to fit all needs.