The Rab Xenon X Jacket (available in Mens and Womens) is a lightweight synthetic insulated jacket which is designed to be warm and windproof but still very breathable. As someone who tends to feel the cold I’ve been using it this Summer and Autumn as a belay jacket for which I’ve found it to be ideal.
The Xenon X uses Primaloft Gold Active insulation which is highly breathable and made from 45% recycled plastic (if they can get this percentage up in future insulation layers it would be nice). Another advantage to this insulation is that it’s formed of a single sheet so there’s no need for stitched baffles which just add weight and reduce the wind proofing.
The outer of the Xenon X is Pertex Quantum and the liner is a lightweight ripstop nylon, which while being really lightweight, windproof and packable does have a slightly shiny finish to it. The advantage of this is that it goes over and under other layers really easily (especially fleece), the disadvantage is that it can feel a little clammy next to your skin.
In real world use I’ve found the Xenon X to be a really versatile layer which I’ve taken on every trip I’ve been on this summer and Autumn. Most of the time I’ve been climbing in a T-Shirt while the Xenon X is clipped to the back of my harness for belays. As a belay jacket it has everything you need:
- 2 way front zip means that you can open it over your harness at the bottom.
- It packs up into the inside pocket which also has a stitched in loop so you can clip it to the back of your harness.
- The hood, while designed to go under a helmet, does actually stretch over one for when you throw it on at a belay.
The Xenon X is comfortable and slim fitting so nice to actually climb in. However it’s not quite as breathable as a specific active insulation jacket like a Polartec Alpha or Vapour rise jacket so I found it more suited to quickly seconding your partner up while you warm up for your pitch. However I’ve found that the reduction in breathability is more than worth the trade off for its brilliant windproofing. It’s a proper barrier against those windy days on exposed crags or sea cliffs. One of my partners was reluctant to give it back after borrowing it in place of his usual solution of around 4 layers of fleeces.
I’m looking forward to testing the Xenon X as a mid layer this Winter. Its too thin to be a proper Scottish Winter belay jacket but will sit comfortably under a shell for super cold climbing days.