'Super-versatile, packable lightweight PrimaLoft-filled jacket handles everything from lunch-stops through to extreme cold conditions use on the hoof'
Outdoors Magic: Light, packable, water-resistant, wind proof and deceptively warm. Handy hood. Slightly more breathable than previous versions in active use.
Outdoors Tragic: Test jacket slightly tight under the arm-pits.
Outdoors Grabbit? If you're after a pack and forget lightweight that's deceptively warm if you do need it, the latest Xenon X ticks most of the boxes. As a bonus, it's maybe more breathable than previous versions if you do use it on the move thanks to the PrimaLoft Active fill and it copes well with damp conditions too. From lightweight belay jacket through to lunch-stop warmer and sub-zero active insulation, the Xenon X pretty much does it all.
Rab Xenon X Jacket Ratings
Outright Warmth [rating score="2.5"]
Packability [rating score="4"]
Damp-proofing [rating score="3.5"]
Overall: [rating score="4"]
Lightweight, active use synthetic jacket / Pertex Quantum® outer fabric / 100% nylon ripstop lining / PrimaLoft® Gold Insulation Active (60/m2 (2oz)) / Under helmet hood, lycra bound / 2-way opening YKK® VISLON® front zip, internal insulated baffle, chin guard / 2 YKK® zipped hand-warmer pockets / 1 YKK® internal zipped pocket, doubles as integrated stuff sack / Elasticated cuffs, hem drawcord /
Full Review Below
Rab Xenon X Jacket - The Fill
The original Xenon used standard PrimaLoft synthetic insulation, but the new winter 2016 version gets an upgrade to the Silver Insulation Active fill. As with standard PrimaLoft it's very water resistant and retains decent insulation properties even when wet, but the 'Active' bit gives it added super powers...
'The outer is still a completely windproof Pertex Quantum material, but the liner fabric is a more air-permeable material'
It works like this: PrimaLoft Active is non-migratory, so not only does it not fly south for winter, it can be used with face and liner fabrics that aren't super closely-woven, which in turn means the whole garment can be made more breathable.
In the case the Xenon X, the outer is still a completely windproof Pertex Quantum material, but the liner fabric is a more air-permeable material, so you're encased in one rather than two layers of windproof fabric. Ergo the garment stays windproof but should be more comfortable to wear on the move.
Rab Xenon X Jacket - Performance
We've still got one of the original - even lighter - Rab Xenon jacket's going strong and it's become our standard 'just in case' UK insulation stand-by used for everything from lunchtime walking stops through to winter mountain biking emergency overlayering.
The good news is that the Xexon X is very much a chip off the old block. It packs down into the inside pocket to form a neat, medium-sized bundle and while it's not as warm as an equivalent weight down jacket, it makes up for it in general indifference to dampness and knock-about resilience.
'Just Warm Enough'
Think 'just warm enough' and you won't go far wrong. Just warm enough for winter stops, for sat in the caff post-outing coffee and cake, for evenings in a chilly tent or bunkhouse when you're man-hauling your own kit. Or, when things get properly, sub-zero cold, just warm enough to use on the move. Bear in mind that it's windproof too, which adds warmth.
For context, it's nowhere near as effective for active use as Rab's own Alpha Direct Jacket, but we'd say it's slightly more comfortable for sub-zero hammer than its predecessors thanks to that more air-permeable liner.
Otherwise its business as usual. Two hand-warmer pockets, an adjustable hem, a fit that's neither too loose or too tight - we wore it over a technical soft shell several times without problems - and a handy, close-fitting hood which sits neatly under a climbing helmet.
Our one slight quibble is that our test jacket was slightly tight under the arm-pits. Admittedly we're wide in the shoulder, but we've asked Rab to check whether our sample was a pre-production jacket and, in the mean time, we'd suggest you try before buying.
Rab Xenon X Jacket - Verdict
A classic UK-friendly, soft and silky, stash and forget insulated top that's light and packable enough not to be a burden, but deceptively protective when you do need it. We've used the Xenon X and its predecessors for everything from walking to winter mountain biking and it's a stand-by in our winter pack.
Where the new version scores bonus points is by being a little more comfortable if you do decide to wear it on the go, but it's still not ideal if you run remotely warm. Overall though, a deceptively warm, weather-resistant, damp-friendly, synthetic insulation option.