The most needed but least used piece of kit I take on the hill is probably spare insulation. It spends most of its life in my rucksack, but is essential over lunch breaks and when stopping to take in a sunset in winter. So this is one area where going lighter is important, but not at the expense of getting colder of course.
The Rab Xenon looks like a great new piece of kit that should be able to keep walkers warm without weighing them down. It is made with Quantum GL, a new fabric for the outdoor industry that appeared in January 2010. Quantum GL is 20 per cent lighter than its predecessor, Pertex Quantum, which until now had been the benchmark lightweight windproof fabric. Quantum GL is wind-, rain- and snow-repellent, and it’s ideal for use as an outer fabric for insulated products. For 2010 it is only available in Rab and The North Face products.
The Rab Xenon has a Quantum GL shell with Primaloft One synthetic insulation inside. The level of insulation is enough to make this ideal as a backup jacket year-round and I’m definitely going to be using it this winter as my main spare insulation.
The jacket weighs just 324g and packs down to the size of a 1.5 litre water bottle. Featurewise you don’t need a lot if this is used as backup insulation and so you don’t get much in the way of bells and whistles. There’s a full-length front zip and two handwarmer pockets, plus a third chest pocket which acts as a useful stash pocket for the whole jacket. You also get an excellent hood; it has no adjustment but fitted me pretty well.
I’ve been using the Xenon this autumn, but really it will come into its own this winter. The key benefit is the new Quantum GL fabric, which means you can stay warm and carry less without any loss in performance.
Material new Pertex Quantum GL – ultralight 10D ripstop
Insulation Primaloft One
Weight 324g (size L)
Made in China
Stockist details – tel. (01773) 601870; www.rab.uk.com
It just became a little bit easier to stay warm for less weight thanks to the Rab Xenon, which is an excellent insulated jacket for the hill-walker.
Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine December 2010