Made from extremely lightweight Gore-Tex Paclite, the Xenon is available for both men and women and is designed to be a waterproof shell for cyclists wanting protection from the elements with no weight penalty.
It's a pared down jacket as far as features go, with clean lines and just one single pocket at chest height. There's a full length front zip, dipped tail with hem drawcord, plenty of reflective accents and a shaped collar with soft fleecy lining. There's also no hood. Arms are articulated and the cuffs fasten with slimline Velcro fasteners.
Amongst the lightest cycling orientated waterproof jackets currently available, the Xenon really is extremely light. The Gore-Tex Paclite fabric is tried and tested, giving excellent waterproof performance with a tiny packsize and weight. The jacket packs down to about the size of a water bottle, and weighs sufficiently little that it's a good option not only for those who tour, but also for commuters and even tucked into the back of a decent sized jersey pocket for inclement training rides.
In wear, it protects completely and effectively from the elements, but doesn't breathe as well as some other heavier fabric alternatives with better airflow. The Gore-Tex Paclite may mean the jacket weighs little and packs down small, but it doesn't breathe as well as some jackets for all-day use, making for a build-up of moisture on the inside when working hard or in warmer wet conditions. It's a jacket best suited to short spells of wear rather than one to be worn when leaving the house in persistent foul weather. As such, it has a valuable role to play in any cyclist's wardrobe. The fit is contoured and athletic without being over tight. Sleeve and torso length are both good, with no problems for all but the tallest women (or men). The zip collar does up nice and snug, using a magnetic fastener, without tightness, while the brushed lining and shape mean a good seal against the elements.
An extraordinarily light waterproof shell jacket with just the features you really need. Best suited to being a jacket packed for short spell use.
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Make and model: The North Face Women's Xenon Jacket
Size tested: Fuschia Pink, Medium
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
"For riders that need superior waterproof protection without excess weight."
Definitely exactly what it's best suited to.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
30D 38g/m2 100% Nylon Ripstop Gore-Tex Paclite fabric
One pocket (chest)
Full front zip
Velcro cuff fastenings
Shaped and brushed lined collar.
Available sizes XS-XL
Well made using high quality fabrics and components.
Kept the water off, didn't weight much and was very packable.
Should last well, although fabric will get steadily less breathable as time passes. Proper care and cleaning with specialist products will maximise longevity of breathability and waterproofing.
Weighs not much more than a lot of windproofs.
Comfortable to wear but not as breathable as you'd like in warmer wet conditions or when working hard. Some dampness inside from perspiration.
Not a bad price for such a lightweight Gore-Tex Paclite jacket designed specifically for cycling.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Performed excellently as an emergency packable waterproof shell.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Weight, packsize, style, fit, collar
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Breathability of fabric.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Definitely.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
Spot-on as an uber-lightweight packable waterproof emergency shell jacket.
Age: 37 Height: 1.65m Weight: 67kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, general fitness riding, mtb,
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.