The Rab Xenair Light gets top marks and the Best Buy accolade from David Lintern in his 2023 active insulation tests.

The Rab Xenair Light is my perfect active insulation layer, with all the features I need and none of the fuss. Warmth is provided by 40gsm of Primaloft Gold Active +, with a sizable quota of recycled content. Crucially, the underarms aren’t insulated at all. The shell is 20D Pertex, which balances breathability with a decent amount of durability. The DWR is lasting well even after several washes. On its own over a baselayer in cool, calm weather, it does a great job of maintaining an even core temperature. Sandwiched between a hardshell and a fleece in full on winter conditions, this insulated jacket does equally well and allows water vapour to escape the layering system.

  • Stars: 5/5
  • Price: £170
  • Weight: 263g
  • Pros: amount of insulation perfectly dialled, thumbloops
  • Cons: none

Fill: 40gsm PrimaLoft® Gold Active+, 55% recycled | Shell: 20D Pertex® Quantum Air | Hood: none | Cuffs: none-elasticated, thumb-loops | Hem: single drawcord | Pockets: 2 handwarmer, 1 chest, all zippered | Sizes: S-XL | Women’s version: no (nearest is the Xenair alpine hoody, with 60gsm primaloft)

Fit and features further mark this out as my Best Buy this time. The fit is on the slim side but not tight (it’s possible to get a mid-weight fleece under my medium). There’s a simple, single hem adjuster, a one-way front zip with no guard (further aiding breathability). There are 3 pockets, all zippered, including one internal/phone pocket and two handwarmers, which sadly are partly compromised by a harness or hipbelt – but no hood. I prefer a hood in static insulation, but for active warmth, the lack of one here means the Xenair sits under a shell far easier and with less wrestling. The sleeves are finished with thumbloops – excellent for keeping the chill off initially and snag free when the big gloves go on over the top. Despite the slight tailoring in the lower arm, there’s still enough stretch in the fabric to allow the sleeves to be pulled up to dump heat.

Perhaps the tail could be a touch longer here, but I’m being picky. The Rab Xenair Light is a goldilocks, no nonsense midlayer I can leave on all day in the cooler months. It’s made from premium materials, designed for start/stop activity and thus far is proving very durable. Top marks to Rab!

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