Rab Kaon Jacket
- Tuesday 25th May 2021
Men and Women’s available
RRP: £200 Weight: 250g
By Bruce Goodlad
When I first looked at the Rab Kaon jacket it was with an eye to including it in an active insulation article in Climber magazine I wasn’t sure about including a down garment in the review where the focus was on breathability and performance when working hard but I was convinced by Rab’s clever blend of fabrics and design to produce an incredibly light and versatile garment. Since writing the initial review I have had the opportunity to use the Kaon a bit more and discover more about its functionality and how practical it is in the mountains.
At the heart of the Kaon is the 800-fill power European Hydrophobic Down, the treatment means that the down will not ‘wet out’ as quickly as standard down. It will eventually become saturated if you are out in the rain for prolonged periods and will then stop keeping you warm unlike the synthetic options, but it will easily stay dry enough from sweat and light rain. This is combined with synthetic Stratos insulation on the shoulders, cuffs and hips – these are the high wear points and areas most likely to get wet so these are the advantages of a synthetic here. This allows Rab to then use all the weight and compressibility of down to make an incredibly light compressible garment.
This weight and compressibility combined with its insulation are key to the Kaon’s success for me – the lighter we can make our pack, the faster we can move the harder we can climb, etc. if you are an athlete! but for most of us having a light pack just means our time in the mountains is more fun. As we head into the summer season my personal favourite activity is long multi-pitch routes in the mountains, this means climbing with a sack on and often having approach shoes or mountain boots in my pack, so I am looking for weight savings at every possible opportunity. The Kaon excels at this at 250g and compressibility that is as good as it gets, I can use a small pack (which is lighter) and still have the insulation there if I need it.
If we look at the design, the down is stitched through for a simple and light down management system – it stays where it is meant to be rather than moving around inside the jacket. The underarm and pits use uninsulated Pertex Quantum Air fabric and I was really interested to see if this made any difference to the warmth and feel. In day to day use this didn’t seem to make a difference I was only really aware of it on really windy days when it felt colder under my arm but never dramatically so. On the plus side as it reduced bulk it made the jacket more comfortable, breathable and lighter. The underarm panel contributes to the freedom of movement which I felt was fantastic, so much so that I think I will be using the Kaon as my outer layer for climbing in the mountains this autumn.
These panels also make a massive contribution to breathability, we sweat more under our arms than just about anywhere else on the body so having a thin fabric that wicks is the perfect way to move moisture away from the body.
The main insulation is the Hydrophobic Down but in areas that are subjected to more compression and potentially exposed to more moisture, the Kaon uses Stratus synthetic insulation. This over the shoulders, cuffs and hips, as well as staying warmer when compressed it also dries more quickly than the down.
The hood uses the same combination of down with Stratus panels on the side and will fit snugly over a helmet. The only pocket is a good-sized chest pocket which further reduced bulk and weight.
I think the Kaon is a superb lightweight jacket, it’s been designed to climb in and you can tell operating throughout the year from emergency summer Alpine piece through to layering it during the colder months it can be used as an outer layer for most activities. The compressibility and weight mean that there is no reason not to take the jacket along and the design means you can work hard and stay comfortable.
There was some feedback that a pair of handwarmer pockets would have increased versatility in everyday life but to me, that’s part of the price of being super light. My only concern using down in this way is that if it became impregnated with sweat it is tricky to clean without compromising the longevity of the down.