Dave Roberts reviews the Rab Xenon X Vest, a PrimaLoft® synthetic insulated layer designed for fast and light activities.
The Rab Xenon X Vest, gilet (or for those brought up in the 80’s – body warmer) is a lightweight ‘booster’ layer designed to be worn over other kit for when you need that little bit of extra warmth. A vest serves a useful purpose, for us anyway, as the ideal fast and light warm layer. If you’re going to make a jacket lighter, removing the arms is generally going to help, and it comes in at a respectable 220g. That’s lighter than the equivalent down Microlight Vest from Rab (310g), and 10g lighter than their lightest down jacket, the Continuum.
The colour is discreet, but with a flashy orange lining – which really does seem to be the colour of 2016!
The Xenon X boasts a couple of hefty zippable side pockets as well as a chest pocket that doubles as an integrated stuff sack.
This isn’t going to be as warm as a full jacket, obviously, but for quick summit stops on a fast trip where weight is at a premium, it’s sufficiently warm. It’s going to keep the core warm, and if you’re going to get too cold then we think you’re stopping too long. I found it well suited to carrying on linear runs where I would end up waiting at the other end, and cooling down rapidly without some sort of warm layer. My down Microlite Rab jacket might be more compact, but you don’t want to be sweating profusely into a down jacket! A synthetic warm layer is better suited to getting a little sweaty, and a lot easier to clean afterwards.
It’s filled with PrimaLoft® Gold, which is one of the most efficient synthetic static insulation available (according to the manufacturer). So this vest packs surprisingly small, and is yet surprisingly warm. This still means that it’s going to be slightly bulkier and heavier than a similar down item, but not as much as your usual synthetically filled top. Where synthetic has a further advantage is that it can get wet and it still retain most of its insulating properties (around 96%), while down is useless when wet. Considering the typical UK mountain day, you can see how synthetic insulation can be useful!
We think this is a handy bit of kit, all year round. It can be that little bit of top up warmth for autumn, or packed away for when needed on those cooler summer days.