Rab Xenon Hoodie - Women's Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
Rab updated the Xenon to the more sustainable Xenon 2.0. This new version features recycled fabrics, including the insulation (Primaloft Silver) and outer fabric (Pertex Quantum). It also uses a fluorocarbon-free DWR coating as its waterproofing. The style was changed up, too. The two jackets are pictured below: the Xenon we tested (left) and the Xenon 2.0 (right).
The Rab Xenon ears a top pick 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.
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, continuing 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.
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.
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 when 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, it stuffed easily into our running pack without 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.
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 mid-layer on but did wear a base layer. When out and about, gusts picked up, and we were happy that our body and arms kept warm.
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.
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.
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.
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 hand-warming 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.
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 than 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.
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.
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.
The Xenon is a wonderful value. 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 lasted us over five years of continuous use. Over this time, the insulation hasn't broken or worn down.
For anyone 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.
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-town jacket and can be used for everyday uses, like walking your dog or heading into the office.
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