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Staff Review: The Rab Kaon Jacket

Words by Taunton Leisure

on 11/08/2020 12:09:47

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Staff Review: The Rab Kaon Jacket

Following on from his first impressions pre lockdown, take a look at Dave’s final thoughts on this innovative insulation.


Rab has been making down jackets for as long as I have been interested in the Outdoors. You see their jackets in all aspects of it, whether it is climbing the greatest peaks or staying warm around the campfire. There is no doubt that when you are looking for a new down jacket, you should consider one of Rab’s range.

When I heard about a new down jacket, I asked myself what else can be done differently? What can Rab really change to add a new jacket to their range? Well, I was pleasantly surprised with the result. As Rab state, the Kaon is designed for alpinists, so I was curious to see how it fits into the average British outdoor man or woman’s arsenal of garments. Due to being in the grips of a terrible pandemic, I wasn’t able to make the usual trips away so resorted to exploring closer to home and being lucky enough to live on the very northern edge of Dartmoor the jacket got a full range of weather to put it through its paces, sometimes all in one day.

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Fit

This may be tricky for some as Covid-19 may have positive or negative effects on how your clothing fits. I personally have always struggled with Rab’s sizing a little being 6’2” and 34” waist. Most brands I am an out and out large, but with Rab some products I wear a medium and some a large. I found the Rab kaon no different, if I wanted a close technical fit and was genuinely using this in an alpinist setting I would have chosen a medium, however, due to living in the south-west I wanted it to be more forgiving and what I saw was a more versatile fit that could be worn at the crag, on the hills but also at the pub.

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Materials

The Rab Kaon is built using Rabs Atmos Ripstop nylon, this is what makes the jacket so lightweight. At first impression it feels like any kind of abrasion is going to shred the jacket, but it is tougher than I first thought. Don’t get me wrong I wouldn’t be dragging myself over granite boulders or bashing through chest gorse, but it won’t simply get ripped apart whilst using it. It's filled with 800fp down in square paneling stopping the down from moving around combined with patches of Statos synthetic fill. This is when the "intelligent zoning" comes into play. The main wear points on the jacket are the cuffs and shoulders. Due to where the synthetic fill is located, when using a rucksack the down is not clumped together, and if the worst should happen and you nick the cuffs as I do on most jackets it won’t fire out a cloud of feathers. The side panels under the arm were the oddest feature to come to terms with, made up of just a layer of the Pertex Quantum Air fabric meaning no insulation. Whilst wearing it as a standalone piece I felt the wind whistled through giving me cold elbows and armpits. On the windier dog walks, I took to wearing a long-sleeved base layer that solved this issue, but it’s not an issue using the jacket as a mid-layer under a shell.

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Features

I would not describe the Rab Kaon of having a huge variety of ground-breaking features outside of how it’s put together, in fact, it doesn’t come with pockets! It only has one chest pocket, elasticated cuffs, and a half hem drawcord. However, it does come with a stuff sack that’s made out of the same super-light Atmos fabric which is made to a perfect size making it easy to stuff, even on a stance of a multi-pitch climb and fits unnoticeably into the chest pocket. As there are no pockets it does create a more comfortable fit when wearing a harness and less bulk under an outer-layer. The jacket does have a hood, and this is the only feature I have had difficulty with being so light even in the mildest breeze’s it flaps around in an annoying fashion, some method of tucking it away wouldn’t go amiss, but doesn’t feel bulky under a shell. Due to its intended use, Rab hasn’t put any water repellent on the Kaon so you will get wet in even the lightest drizzle, but the down is treated so as long as it is dried correctly it won’t cause long term damage to the jacket.

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Use

During and since lockdown in Devon we have experienced all the weather you could expect, freezing temperatures, heavy rain, and even a heatwave. The Rab Kaon became a go-to jacket for me when walking, climbing, or stuffed in the back of a kayak. Undoubtedly it was great as a mid-layer in colder climates under my Goretex shell, it was barely noticeable and as someone who gets warm quick, once moving the jacket didn’t cause me to overheat. As a standalone layer, it's amazingly comfortable to wear once the wind issue was dealt with, and on early morning dog walks on warm days, worked great. Whilst climbing, I put a very small karabiner on the bag and clipped to my waist once warmed up I’ve never been a fan of clipping stuff to my waist but due to the weight, it didn’t bother me. On longer walks and mountain bike rides due to its pack size and weight, I never hesitated to throw it in my rucksack when stopping for lunch or dropping into shaded woodland where it made a good addition to throw on. I never imagined using the Rab Kaon climbing in the UK but once again ended up using it more often than expected. It was a great layer to chuck on at the bottom of boulder problems whilst resting or belaying a mate when they're taking their time up a route. I did climb in the jacket more often on multi-pitch climbs when starting and stopping is part of the course. The breathability and temperature control came into its own and if I wanted to remove the jacket could hang it from my harness with no hassle.

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Pros

  • Super Lightweight
  • Tiny pack size
  • Superb warmth without the weight
  • More controlled temperature than other down jackets made for hard-working activities

Cons

  • The Hood is loud and flappy in a breeze


  • In summary, Rab has created a Jacket that really does have a place for those who are not alpinist’s, whether you’re into wild camping, walking, climbing, or any other outdoor pass time. The problems of the hood and lack of pockets can be pushed aside due to the amount of incredible warmth you gain for such little weight meaning this jacket cannot be overlooked when how much you're carrying really matters.


Shop Rab Kaon Jacket HERE



IMG_5153This review was written by Dave from the Exeter Shop. Dave has over 15 years experience of outdoor instructing up and down the country. He is a qualified Canoe, Kayak, Mountain biking, Walking and Climbing instructor with with also years of experience coasteering. Dave is as much at home cruising down the Dartmoor Rivers as he is scaling Cornish sea cliffs.

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