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Rab Xenair Insulated Review

Breathable and lightweight, this jacket is the perfect companion for cold weather high-output activities
Rab Xenair Insulated
Credit: Rab
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $200 List | $146.98 at Amazon
Pros:  Wind resistant, excellent breathability
Cons:  Poor water resistance, minimal features
Manufacturer:   Rab Equipment
By Buck Yedor ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 28, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
67
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 15
  • Warmth - 25% 5.0
  • Weight and Compressibility - 20% 8.0
  • Comfort - 20% 7.0
  • Weather Resistance - 20% 6.0
  • Breathability - 15% 8.0

Our Verdict

The Rab Xenair Insulated is a hoodless synthetic puff that offers lightweight warmth and good wind resistance. The synthetic insulation used in this jacket is capable of keeping you warm, even if it gets a little wet. While insulated jackets are generally not waterproof, the outer shell is breathable and will prevent you from becoming cold and sweaty during high-output activities. The thin shell also contributes to its ability to block wind. Our ideal application is using the Xenair as a layer while hiking, backpacking, ski touring, or approaching rock routes; it's an excellent lightweight midlayer that can also be worn under a rain jacket.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Rab Xenair Insulated
Awards Best Buy Award  Top Pick Award   
Price $200 List
$146.98 at Amazon
$230 List
$229.95 at Amazon
$259.00 at REI
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$200 List
$199.94 at Amazon
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Pros Wind resistant, excellent breathabilityVery warm, great features set, packs away easilyVery comfortable, great fit, breathable, impressively warm, great mobilityVery comfortable, warm, many features100% recycled materials, lightweight, highly wind-resistant
Cons Poor water resistance, minimal featuresNot the lightestPricey, not as warm as thicker layers, doesn’t stuff into itselfHeavy, uses an external stuff sackMediocre breathability, low stretch
Bottom Line Breathable and lightweight, this jacket is the perfect companion for cold weather high-output activitiesWith high loft, water-resistant insulation, this jacket is a great option for staying warm on cold, damp days, and doesn't break the bankThe ideal active insulated layer combines lightweight mobility and great breathability, yet still wards off the chill during cold weatherThis medium-weight jacket spares no attention to detail when it comes to keeping you comfortableWhile it isn’t the most technical insulation layer, it is warm, comfortable, and light enough to be used for a wide range of activities
Rating Categories Rab Xenair Insulated Rab Nebula Pro Arc'teryx Atom LT H... Rab Cirrus Alpine I... Rab Xenon 2.0
Warmth (25%)
5.0
9.0
5.0
8.0
6.0
Weight and Compressibility (20%)
8.0
3.0
7.0
4.0
7.0
Comfort (20%)
7.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
Weather Resistance (20%)
6.0
8.0
5.0
6.0
6.0
Breathability (15%)
8.0
5.0
9.0
4.0
4.0
Specs Rab Xenair Insulated Rab Nebula Pro Arc'teryx Atom LT H... Rab Cirrus Alpine I... Rab Xenon 2.0
Measured Weight (size) 11.8 oz (M) 22.9 oz (M) 13.20 oz (M) 17.6 oz (M) 12.4 oz (M)
Insulation PrimaLoft Gold Active+ Cirrus HL 60 g/m2 Coreloft Compact w/ Stretch Fleece panels on sides PrimaLoft Silver Insulation Luxe 60 g PrimaLoft Silver 100% postconsumer recycled synthetic fibers
Outer Fabric Pertex Quantum Air Pertex Quantum Pro (30D recycled nylon) 20D Nylon Tyono 30D recycled Pertex Quantum 30D Pertex Quantum ripstop
Stuffs Into Itself? Yes Includes stuff sack No No Yes
Hood Option? No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Number of Pockets 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered chest 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered chest 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered internal chest 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered internal chest 2 zippered hand, 1 internal zipped

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Rab Xenair is a multifunctional insulation layer that is perfect for layering up during cool and cold weather activity. Whether you are climbing, hiking, or skiing, this lightweight jacket will add significant amounts of warmth to your layering system without adding a substantial amount of bulk or weight. The breathable nature of the material will reduce the number of times you need to stop and de-layer.

Performance Comparison


Rab Xenair Insulated insulated jacket - the xenair runs a bit on the large side; keep this in mind if you're...
The Xenair runs a bit on the large side; keep this in mind if you're looking to layer.
Credit: Buck Yedor

Warmth


This jacket is filled with two different weights of recycled PrimaLoft Gold Active+ insulation. The different weights help keep areas like your core insulated while allowing your extremities to have more breathability. The goal here is to keep you warm while standing still and prevent your body from overheating as you start to move. Preventing moisture from building up inside your layering system will ultimately keep you warmer. As sweat cools on your body, it dramatically lowers your body temperature; thus, if you successfully wick that moisture away from your body, it's likely you will be a much happier camper. This is a lightweight insulation layer that adds a good deal of warmth when used in a layering system; however, as a standalone piece, we recommend it for moderately cold weather.


The Xenair thrives on a body in motion; it isn’t a super beefy jacket built for standing around in the cold. If you’re looking for a beefy jacket to keep you toasty while hanging around camp at night or during long, cold belays, we'd recommend shopping for a more robust layer. That being said, when used in conjunction with a base layer, a midlayer, and a waterproof shell over top, you'll be able to achieve plenty of warmth in cold temperatures.

Rab Xenair Insulated insulated jacket - the xenair is lightweight and breathable.
The Xenair is lightweight and breathable.
Credit: Buck Yedor

Weight and Compressibility


Weight is one of the metrics where the Xenair stands out. With minimal features and a thin shell, this jacket is light. Considering it’s stuffed with synthetic material and not down, it compresses into an impressively small package. It's small enough that you could consider clipping it to the back of your harness while climbing chilly multi-pitch routes. Unlike many of the other options from Rab, the Xenair stuffs into one of its own pockets as opposed to an additional stuff sack that you'd have to keep track of.


Our size medium weighed in at 11.8 ounces, which makes it one of the lighter options in our fleet. However, we can't ignore that the low weight is largely due to the fact that this jacket offers very few features. It lacks a hood, has minimal pockets, and has fewer adjustable hemlines than most of the other jackets in this review. Featureless or not, the result is a light and compressible jacket, which, in our experience, is often more beneficial than extras. Given its low weight and decent compressibility, this jacket makes an excellent emergency layer to throw in your pack and forget about until it's needed.

Rab Xenair Insulated insulated jacket - the xenair compresses down into a tight little package that is not...
The Xenair compresses down into a tight little package that is not incredibly noticeable when stuffed into your backpack.
Credit: Buck Yedor

Comfort


The Xenair is a comfortable insulation layer. The wrist cuffs are stretchy and the fit is loose and roomy. There is plenty of room in the shoulders for overhead movement and the inner liner is soft against the skin. The lightweight, generous fit makes this jacket a great option for lightweight adventures; its excellent breathability greatly contributes to the comfort of this piece. Breathability and the fit allow the Xenair to be an easy and enjoyable piece to wear all day long.


Our testers indicate that this jacket runs on the large side, particularly in regards to the arm length. The roomy fit does however make it easier to layer a base layer or midlayer underneath, should you want to. This jacket is missing some of the finer details we like to see, like lined wrist cuffs and fleece around the chin, but it remains a highly comfortable option, especially while on the move.

Rab Xenair Insulated insulated jacket - this jacket has minimal features but it does have an external chest...
This jacket has minimal features but it does have an external chest pocket that is large enough to fit a smartphone.
Credit: Buck Yedor

Weather Resistance


The Xenair isn’t the most weatherproof option out there. The thin outer shell does little in the way of keeping water out. Fortunately, the synthetic Primaloft insulation will keep insulating you even if it gets wet. The outer shell also makes an excellent wind layer. The great wind resistance makes this jacket great for traversing windy ridgelines or for pre-dawn jogs through the city. It's ideal for cold and windy but dry days out in the mountains.


The lack of a hood compromises its weather resistance. Whether you're trying to hide from the wind or water, you'll need an additional layer to keep your head high and dry — as you often do with any insulated jacket. When used as part of a layering system, we sometimes prefer a simple piece that doesn't try to do too much. Often, we will be carrying a hat or rain jacket anyway, and having a dedicated insulation layer — without a hood — eliminates redundant bulk.

Rab Xenair Insulated insulated jacket - the xenair beads off light precip but starts to soak through quickly.
The Xenair beads off light precip but starts to soak through quickly.
Credit: Buck Yedor

Breathability


Breathability is yet again another metric where the Xenair shines, as it's one of the most breathable insulation layers we tested. It's one of the few jackets we could hike in and didn't have to immediately take it off after warming up. Our testers found that on cold days when working hard, they could leave this jacket on, and not end up sweaty and quickly shivering as their base layers soaked through.


Breathability does come with its drawbacks, as noted above, with the primary one being less weather resistance. When encountering wet snow, we would rather sacrifice some breathability for greater waterproofness. Similarly, it is surprising how well this model blocks the wind given its great breathability.

Rab Xenair Insulated insulated jacket - when the temperature starts dropping, you'll likely need to layer...
When the temperature starts dropping, you'll likely need to layer up. The Xenair makes for a great piece for your layering system.
Credit: Buck Yedor

Value


The Xenair is a hoodless, highly breathable option that is ideal for high output activities or for packing along when you’re not sure if you might need some extra warmth. It is priced similarly to other options that provide users with more features, such as a hood or more adjustability. However, the overall quality makes up for its relatively sparse design. Given its functionality and competitive price point, the Xenair is a worthy purchase.

Conclusion


The Rab Xenair offers lightweight warmth and excellent breathability; it's the perfect layer for cold weather cardio activity. Whether you’re ski touring, hiking, or simply heading to work, this jacket offers warmth and wind protection without huge amounts of bulk. It doesn’t fare the best in wet weather, which can be said for many insulating layers, but its minimal features make layering a shell over the top a nonissue.

Buck Yedor
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