Xenon vs. Xenon X
Rab dropped the X from this beloved jacket, now calling it simply the Xenon. Among the updates are a $40 price drop(!), a new lightweight ripstop fabric, an updated fit, and a new proprietary insulation called Stratus. Rab claims their Stratus insulation retains 20% less water and moisture than the previously used Primaloft. Compare the new Xenon (first image) to the Xenon X we tested (second image).
We haven't gotten our hands on the new Xenon yet, so all of the text in the review below still tells our account of the Xenon X, which is our favorite insulated jacket. Until the Xenon becomes more readily available, you can still get the Xenon X at a discount.
Hands-On Review of the Xenon X
We chose the Rab Xenon X Hoodie as our Editors' Choice Award winner primarily because of its qualities as a technical jacket. We like its durable construction and water resistant fabric, and it seriously feels like you're wearing a sleeping bag when you put it on… instant warmth and satisfaction.
The Xenon X Hoodie is our Editors' Choice Award winner for the third year in a row! It strikes a fine balance between compressibility, weather resistance, and warmth. It also hosts a wide variety of comfort features that will make any adventure comfortable and convenient.
Here are a few of the noted changes in this jacket from the previous year's model:
- Rab eliminated the soft collar linings that once brought us joy.
- The outer breast pocket that we once loved has been eliminated.
- The zipper is much more durable, and the fit is a little tighter than before.
Loaded with 60g/m2 of top-of-the-line, fluffy PrimaLoft Gold insulation, and a lightweight Pertex Quantum shell, this insulated jacket has one of the best warmth-to-weight/compressibility ratios of all in this review. With its elastic cuffs and hemline drawcord, this jacket seals in heat, but still leaves you feeling agile and mobile. The hood fits well under and over a helmet to keep your ears warm and cozy; however, there were no adjustable cinches around the hood to ensure a perfect seal. Like all jackets in this review, the hydrophobic insulation keeps you warm even if the jacket gets soaked.
Although synthetic insulated jackets are never as fluffy or warm as down jackets, we were impressed by the Xenon X's loft. Sliding on this jacket is like slipping into a wonderfully comfortable sleeping bag. While this jacket is relatively warm, it's not the toastiest in the fleet.
The double pull-cords lock in warmth in addition to the continuous face fabric.
Weight & Compression
As one of the most lightweight and compressible insulated jackets in this review, it's ideal for a variety of adventures. The Quantum Pertex shell and lining is nice and thin with little to no bulk; the super lofty insulation also holds lots of air, compressing to the size of a small salami sandwich. It weighs only 10.65 ounces and features its stowaway system and clip-on biner loop.
We took this jacket on many adventures, including tower climbing in the Moab desert, biking, hiking, backpacking, and more, learning that it easily stuffs into a backpack and clips to anything. With the current elimination of several comfort features, it's lighter than it's ever been. Clip it to your harness, stuff it in a pack, and take it on your next big adventure.
The Xenon X is very compressible, packing into its own pocket. In addition, it has a carabiner clip that can easily be attached to a harness or backpack.
Comfort & Coziness
While the Xenon X once received top marks in this category, this year it loses a few points because of some design updates. While pulling it on feels like you're wearing the most comfortable sleeping bag you've ever crawled into, it doesn't have the fleece-lined chin guard that we would normally snuggle deep down into. This was replaced with the same shell material found on the outer shell. The outer breast pocket we loved on the former model is also no more.
We still adore the helmet-compatible hood and the big roomy handwarmer pockets. There is also still a breast pocket, but it's on the inside of the coat providing a stow-away large enough for the iPhone 8 and other items.
This jacket is super lofty and features two hand-warming pockets (with no fleece lining). The breast pocket is on the interior of the jacket.
Overall, this is a comfortable and cozy jacket in the way of its super lofty insulation and lightweight design. Wear it all day, whether its raining or the sun is shining outside.
Our Editors' Choice winner features a helmet-compatible hood that provides ample coverage. Consider the features you need or want before buying.
This jacket features a continuous outer shell and offers exceptional protection against both water and wind. The shell features a durable, water-resistant finish and is also impervious to some serious wind storms. Overall, it has great weather resistance.
The continuous Pertex Quantum shell on the Xenon (which is coated with a DWR finish) is instrumental in this coat's weather resistance. It beads light rain quite well; in stronger, consistent rain, it will not keep you dry. However, thanks to its high loft synthetic insulation, it dries quickly and still maintains a high percentage of its warmth while wet. Moreover, the fluffy insulation tends to trap more water before it seeps through and gets you wet.
A look at the water-resistant fabrics of the Xenon X. Our shower tests proved that this fabric, and the Columbia Mighty Lite Plush, were the best when it comes to water resistance. That said, neither are waterproof.
A continuous shell is also useful in windy conditions. After wearing quilted jackets during our wind resistance tests, then putting on this piece, we immediately felt the heat come back into our core. This is because there are fewer areas of stitching that would otherwise allow wind to flow right through. That said, even though its high weather resistant for an insulated jacket, it's not the most breathable. Wear it during cruddy weather and stack it under a hardshell for ultimate performance.
While this award-winner provides fantastic warmth and weather resistance, its trade-off is breathability. If you're looking for a jacket to take on a run - this is not the best choice. The Pertex Quantum shell does a better job at retaining heat than it does losing it. Even when trying to open pockets to act as vents, this garment has a tough time venting heat, making it a less ideal choice for super sweaty recreational activities.
Style & Fit
While this technical competitor isn't necessarily stylish, it is flattering for some of our testers, but not all of them.
In general, the jacket has a pretty straight shape with a boxy design. The sleeves and torso are plenty long for testers of all sizes, and many of our curvier testers liked this better than more fitted jackets. It sports a techy look.
A look at the fit and style of the Xenon X. We loved the longer design that accommodates both long and short women.
The new Rab Xenon X isn't quite as roomy as past models, giving it a more fitted shape than it had in the past.
The Xenon earned our Editors' Choice Award because it scored high marks across all our metrics except in breathability and style. It's a versatile jacket, ready to perform during adventurous backcountry activities and awesome for cruising around town on a chilly day. Used as either a mid or outer layer, the Xenon is ideal for any outdoor excursion. Take it alpine rock climbing, hiking, or mountaineering, as well as skiing and backpacking! Compress it away and stash it into the smallest backpacks, or wear it while tackling a strong gale.
Enjoying the fire during a camping trip in Canyonlands. This jacket kept our main tester warm and happy on this trip.
This jacket is a steal of a deal. While most of the jackets in this review retail above $250, this model is $235 and offers better performance overall. The only thing we love as much as an awesome piece of gear is an awesome piece of gear at a competitive price.
Rab fixed their zipper problem! It's bomber, doesn't get stuck, and we like it way more than the previous zipper.
The Rab Xenon X Hoodie, our Editors' Choice winner, is an excellent value. It's lightweight, compressible, warm, and weather resistant. Even though it's not incredibly stylish or breathable, we value this technical piece as one that is quite versatile and lavishly comfortable. Take it with you on your next big adventure. Stuff it in a pack or wear it confidently while mother nature huffs and puffs.