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Rab Xenon Hoodie - Women's Review

Warm and compressive, this continuous shell jacket is an excellent option for all types of adventures.
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $195 List | $146.21 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Warm, lightweight, packable, windproof, water resistant, slippery smooth face fabrics
Cons:  Not breathable, boxy fit
Manufacturer:   Rab Equipment
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 14, 2019
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OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 12
  • Warmth - 25% 6
  • Weight & Compression - 20% 10
  • Weather Resistance - 20% 9
  • Comfort & Coziness - 15% 8
  • Breathability - 15% 6
  • Style & Fit - 5% 6

Our Verdict

The Rab Xenon (formerly the Rab Xenon X) once again is a shining star amongst insulative jackets on the market. It stands out for its ultra-packable and lightweight construction that offers a high warmth to weight ratio. The continuous shell is windproof, allowing you to climb or hike high while staying protected and warm. The 60-grams of recycled stratus insulation is light and airy, capturing heat while you're in motion. The liners retain the heat well, making it an excellent layer underneath a shell for super cold weather, or an excellent stand-alone jacket during adventures in autumn-like weather. Unfortunately, it's not incredibly breathable, and the fit, while slimmer this year, is still quite boxy. It's our first choice for ultralight missions and everyday wear, given its super light design, and wins this award for the fifth year in a row.


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Price $146.21 at Backcountry
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Pros Warm, lightweight, packable, windproof, water resistant, slippery smooth face fabricsGreat style and colors, lightweight warmth, warm when wet, versatile use, durableWarm, lofty, inexpensive, cute and stylish, removable faux-furBreathable, warm, great comfort features, mobile face fabric, great layering abilityAttractive style and fit, breathable, water resistant, cute colors
Cons Not breathable, boxy fitExpensiveLacks water resistance, no pull tabs on zippersNo cinch cord around hoodSmall pockets, lacks wind resistance, no stow-away system, expensive
Bottom Line Warm and compressive, this continuous shell jacket is an excellent option for all types of adventures.A veratile wool-insulated jacket with fantastic overall performance in a reversible package.An inexpensive and well-performing synthetic jacket perfect for winter weather.Offering a unique balance of warmth and breathability, this jacket is highly versatile.This technical insulated jacket boasts great breathability and protection that does best on its own during the warmer season, or with another layer in the coldest months.
Rating Categories Rab Xenon Hoodie - Women's Swisswool Piz Bial Peak to Park Ventrix Hoody Atom LT Hoody
Warmth (25%)
10
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6
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
6
10
0
5
Weight & Compression (20%)
10
0
10
10
0
7
10
0
5
10
0
6
10
0
7
Weather Resistance (20%)
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
6
Comfort & Coziness (15%)
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
Breathability (15%)
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
4
10
0
8
10
0
9
Style & Fit (5%)
10
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6
10
0
9
10
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8
10
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7
10
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8
Specs Rab Xenon Hoodie -... Swisswool Piz Bial Peak to Park Ventrix Hoody Atom LT Hoody
Weight 8.75 oz 12 oz 25.15 oz 11.1 oz 11.18 oz
Number of Pockets 3 (2 zippered hand, 1 zippered chest) 3 (2 zippered hand, 1 zippered internal chest) 3 (2 zippered hand, 1 zippered chest) 3 (2 zippered hand, 1 zippered chest) 3 (2 zippered hand, 1 zippered internal chest)
Insulation 60g Stratus 88% virgin wool, 12% polylactide Synthetic down 100% polyester 80g 100% polyester Ventrix stretch synthetic insulation 60g/m squared Coreloft
Outer Fabric Atmos ripstop 100% recycled nylon Pertex Quantum Storm-Lite DP II 100% Polyester 92% nylon, 8% ripstop Tyno 20D Shell, Polartec Power Stretch with Hardface Technology - 88% polyester, 12% elastane, 230 g/m squared
Lining Nylon 100% nylon Microtex Lite II Taffeta 100% Polyester 92% nylon, 8% elastane Synthetic textile
Hood Option? Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Stuffs into itself? Yes No No No Yes
Cuff construction Elasticized cuffs Elasticized cuffs Stretch-knit Elasticized cuffs Stretch-knit
Warranty Information Lifetime warranty with original proof of purchase - includes repairs 30-day return Limited lifetime warranty Limited lifetime warranty; will repair or replace due to manufacturing defect (not regular wear and tear or misuse) Lifetime warranty; includes zippers, buckles, and other manufacturer defects.

Our Analysis and Test Results

2019 Updated Version
After testing this jacket for a few months, we appreciate the updates which include:
  • A slimmer fit
  • Lighter weight design
  • Better breathability

The Rab Xenon continues to crush the competition, once again earning our Editors' Choice award for its super lightweight construction and impressive compressibility. Built with a relaxed fit, it offers amazing versatility. For those that appreciate an ultra-light jacket that provides a decent amount of warmth, wind protection, and compression, this is the best one out there.

Performance Comparison


The newest version of the Xenon wins awards once again! It offers the best compression to weight ratio  with a newer  more breathable exterior that offers a little more versatility than it did before on the trail.
The newest version of the Xenon wins awards once again! It offers the best compression to weight ratio, with a newer, more breathable exterior that offers a little more versatility than it did before on the trail.

Warmth


This jacket offers lightweight warmth that'll provide protection on cool days in the mountains. Filled with 60-grams of polyester insulation, it offers warmth both when wet and dry. The jacket is built with an airy feel that captures the air around it; when you move, it warms up, and continues to keep you warm when you stop. On its own, it's great for cooler weather or as an additional insulative jacket when the temperatures really plummet.


We tested this jacket while hiking, climbing, and exploring in all kinds of weather. While it doesn't provide enough warmth for wearing on its own in incredibly cold or wet weather, it performs exceptionally well as a layered system. It has a super lightweight feel and offers ample warmth. Of the jackets we've tested, it packs in a lot more heat and holds it in.

From hiking to chilling out  this jacket will keep you warm even when temperatures get chilly. A spectacular option for a winter hike where you might need a little extra insulation.
From hiking to chilling out, this jacket will keep you warm even when temperatures get chilly. A spectacular option for a winter hike where you might need a little extra insulation.

The hood is insulative and stretchy but does not have pull strings to lock in a fit around a helmet. Around the hem are two drawstrings, which can be cinched down to lock in warmth when it's especially cold. When you move, warmth is captured in the airy insulation. It's not the most breathable insulated jacket out there but will keep you warm whether it's layered under a shell or worn on its own with a fleece underneath.

Chilling out on a shady ledge in Red Rocks is a perfect place for this packable  yet  surprisingly warm jacket.
Chilling out on a shady ledge in Red Rocks is a perfect place for this packable, yet, surprisingly warm jacket.

Weight & Compression


Wowzers! The updated version of this jacket is even lighter than before and compresses to a super small size. This jacket is a go-to if you want to go super light and fast. We've used it on running missions into the mountains, and it's a top choice as an extra layer of insulation which tackling giant multi-pitch climbs in gusty weather.


It packs easily into its pocket, or you can simply stuff it into the tiniest nooks of your backpack. When fastpacking, we easily stuffed it into our running pack, without it taking up all the room. This is one of the lightest and most packable continuous shell jackets that we've ever had the pleasure of testing. If lightweight and compressible warmth is what you seek, you've got to check out this jacket.

Here we stuff the Rab Xenon into our running pack when we decide to pick up the pace. It fits perfectly  compressing to a super small size. Either stuff it or pack it into its own pocket.
Here we stuff the Rab Xenon into our running pack when we decide to pick up the pace. It fits perfectly, compressing to a super small size. Either stuff it or pack it into its own pocket.

Weather Resistance


The Atmos lightweight shell offers amazing water resistance. We can't believe how its construction is basically windproof and quite water-resistant. It's our first choice as an additional shell and insulation on long multi-pitch climbs and alpine adventures. It's truly built for those trying to go light and fast.


We wore this jacket while hiking mountains and climbing multi-pitch routes. When winds were flowing fiercely, this jacket still cut the wind. We were a little unsure, given that the material of the jacket seems to be even lighter weight. However, when hanging out a windy belay with two layers underneath, we were just fine; when hiking, we noticed the same thing. We didn't have a midlayer on but did wear a baselayer. When out and about, gusts picked up, and we were happy that our body and arms kept warm.

Here we take on a gust of wind without a problem while chilling in Blaine Basin just under the towering 14 000 ft summit of Mt. Sneffels in Colorado.
Here we take on a gust of wind without a problem while chilling in Blaine Basin just under the towering 14,000 ft summit of Mt. Sneffels in Colorado.

When water hits the material, it beads up and slides off. The outer material is super slippery and doesn't absorb water. That said, in a hard downpour, don't expect this jacket to keep you dry. It's far from waterproof, and after a few minutes of being completely exposed to water, it will absorb it eventually. Given that both the shell and liner are made of the same material, it takes time but eventually will soak through to your mid-layers. In our shower tests, it held up well and was comparable to the competition; but after about five minutes in the shower, it eventually started to soak through.

While we aren't getting wet here  if we did slip  the external shell does a great job of wicking away moisture.
While we aren't getting wet here, if we did slip, the external shell does a great job of wicking away moisture.

Overall, this insulated jacket is light, windproof, and does an excellent job of wicking away water. If you're planning on using it for big mountain adventures, plan to wear it underneath a shell if grim weather is expected to come in.

Comfort & Coziness


Wrapped up like a hotdog in a bun, this jacket feels cozy and comfortable to wear all day. The fabrics are smooth and slippery, not quilted or wooly. The lightweight construction feels like you have almost nothing on.


Other layers fit easily underneath it. It also works nicely underneath a shell with its super light design.
Other layers fit easily underneath it. It also works nicely underneath a shell with its super light design.

While there are no particularly "cozy" features like faux-fur linings or soft fleece on the insides of the pockets, the warmth and larger fit of this jacket make it just as comfortable. Many of the women who tried it on during our testing loved the feel of it. It layers very easily underneath a tight-fitting shell or over the top of a fleece layer.

With ample room in the pockets to keep hands warm and the capacity for all-day wear  it's great to layer on all sorts of adventures.
With ample room in the pockets to keep hands warm and the capacity for all-day wear, it's great to layer on all sorts of adventures.

We love the pockets. It comes with one internal chest pocket, which also functions as a stuff sack. It's large enough for a snack, your phone, and a set of keys. The handwarming pockets are massive and you can easily fit your gloved hands inside. Unfortunately, when wearing a harness, these pockets become inaccessible, as they aren't high enough.

Breathability


While this jacket is thin, with its windproof design, it trades off breathability. We tested breathability by running on cold, wintery trails. After a mile or so of uphill running with the temperature hovering just around freezing, we had to take it off.


The Atmos shell offers some level of breathability, but venting is tough with such a durable and wind-resistant textile. It is more breathable that it has been in the past, given its lighter and slimmer design. However, it's not our top choice for super cold morning runs or highly aerobic activities. While you could absolutely use it while ski touring, it'd probably be taken off on the hike uphill.

While the new shell on this update is more breathable  it's still less breathable than other soft-shelled contenders. While we did unzip it while hiking up this snowy hill  there was no need to take it off in the cold temperatures.
While the new shell on this update is more breathable, it's still less breathable than other soft-shelled contenders. While we did unzip it while hiking up this snowy hill, there was no need to take it off in the cold temperatures.

For less aerobic sports like climbing, where movement is typically slower, it provides excellent performance. We usually wore it with the collar unzipped to aid with ventilation; but, since we didn't heat up as much as we did with high output activities, it provided just the right amount of breathability and warmth. It's far from the most breathable insulative jacket, but it does the trick for lower-aerobic activities. Use is while hiking, climbing, fishing, or backpacking, but find a more breathable jacket for running or cross-country skiing.

Style & Fit


We appreciate the updated fit this year. In the past, it had a very boxy fit that made any woman look like a bit of a balloon. This year, they slimmed the fit down. That said, it's still quite boxy, and it fits larger than you'd think. Fortunately, this allows for great functionality, as you can easily layer it with a more relaxed fit, or size down if needed. The fit still feels a bit large, and there's plenty of length in the torso and arms for those with longer limbs. If you're especially short, you might find that there's quite a bit of extra material.

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If we had to choose from other contenders, we'd choose a different jacket to label as fashionable or cute. However, as we all know, style is subjective. The jacket doesn't look too techy but it does have an outdoorsy look to it. The clean, continuous shell does not have any special patterns, but we do appreciate the color options.

A look at the overall fit and style of the Rab Xenon. The pockets are ample with a slimmer fit this year.
A look at the overall fit and style of the Rab Xenon. The pockets are ample with a slimmer fit this year.

Value


The Xenon is a high initial investment, but it's worth the cost. We've tested previous iterations of this jacket (constructed of similar materials), and it's incredibly durable and impervious to tears or abrasions. In fact, it's one that's lasted us over five years of continuous use. Over this time, the insulation hasn't broken or worn down. For the woman looking for a jacket that can function as a wear-alone piece in cooler weather or as an additional insulative layer in the dead of a cold winter, this is our favorite recommendation. Its lightweight and ultra-compressive design make it easy to throw into a pack as a backup jacket, or it can be worn without noticing that it's even on.

Jack the dog and our main author LOVES this jacket  making it a Top Pick for its compressive  lightweight  and warm design.
Jack the dog and our main author LOVES this jacket, making it a Top Pick for its compressive, lightweight, and warm design.

Conclusion


The Rab Xenon is a lightweight and compressible jacket built for all-terrain missions. It's surprisingly warm despite its thin construction and is quite durable, lasting you for many years to come. It functions as an extra layer for super cold days in the mountains, or an insulative shell for cool days on the trail or rock wall. It's packable enough to be a part of your ultralight set-up, whether you're tackling long trails, a big ski tour, or a multi-pitch route. It's also a great around the town jacket and can be used for everday uses, like walking your dog or heading into the office.


Amber King