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The Rab Xenon X used to be the best all-purpose lightweight synthetic insulated jacket on the market. Over the last seven years, the author has used the Xenon and Xenon X for some fantastic outdoor adventures: a 35-day traverse of Alaska’s Brooks Range, climbing Denali, Half Dome, and El Cap, and other things. Though the Xenon X performs above average in our tests, a variety of other jackets now offer superior performance. The first jacket I found to beat the Xenon X was the Arcteryx Nuclei FL, released in 2015. Now our favorite is the Nunatak Skaha Apex, which was released in Spring 2017.


Chris Simrell wearing the Rab Xenon on a hiking-mountaineering-packrafting traverse of the Olympic Peninsula, WA. Credit: Max Neale

Features & Specifications

  • 11.9 oz (336 g) in men’s medium;
  • 1.8 oz/yd (60 g/m) Primaloft Gold Active insulation;
  • Low air permeable fabrics are best for stationary use or high exertion use in very cold weather;
  • Non-adjustable hood, two handwarmer pockets, one interior zippered pocket.

Review Context

We tested this jacket as part of our Synthetic Insulated Jacket State of the Market Report (to be released on 3/25/2018), which compared fifteen of the best jackets over two years of hiking, climbing, mountaineering, packrafting, backcountry skiing, and ski mountaineering. Our testing sought to answer the following questions:

1. What’s the best all-purpose synthetic insulated jacket?
2. What’s the best lightweight windproof synthetic insulated jacket?
3. What’s the best active insulation jacket?
4. What’s the best synthetic insulated parka?

Description of Field Testing

The author and other contributing testers have more experience with this jacket than any other synthetic insulated jacket we’ve tested. We began using it in early 2012 and have at least five friends who have owned and either worn out or sold their jackets. We have used the Xenon X for many different types of outdoor adventures including:

Windproof synthetic insulated jackets offer the highest warmth to weight ratio, but are insufficiently breathable for high exertion pursuits. Sarah, pictured here in the Rab Xenon X, sold this jacket and now uses two fleeces and a windshell or hardshell for wet conditions. Her old-school layering system is not as lightweight or as comfortable, but it is cheaper and more durable. Gates of the Arctic National Park, Alaska. Credit: Max Neale

Performance Assessment

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