Gore Xenon 2.0
Pros: Best combination of warmth, water/wind resistance, and packability
Cons: One small pocket hampers versatility
Though perhaps not as stylish as some others in this review, the Xenon 2.0 is technically phenomenal, providing the best mix of wind and water resistance, and warmth, of any vest here.
This wasn’t exactly surprising, as the sleeved Xenon jacket is one of our all-time favorites: packable, very wind and water resistant, perfectly cut, and much warmer than its thin shell would suggest.
The Xenon 2.0 vest has all those same attributes. It takes advantage of Gore’s excellent Windstopper Active Shell fabric, providing adequate (not as good as the mesh-backed vests) breathability along with plenty of wind and water resistance. The vest is hyper-versatile, warm when you need it to be, packable, acceptably light, and chock full of smart, technical features.
The back of the neck, for example, uses a soft mesh instead of the Windstopper fabric to further improve breathability and avoid that clammy neck feeling we all hate. Overall breathability would be drastically improved if this material extended further down the back, but of course that would spoil the vest’s water resistance.
Fit is good, though the wrong size will result in big bunches on the chest. Gore has the vest in its “slim fit” category, and it certainly belongs there; hunker down into the drops and the vest drapes perfectly around the shoulders and back, without any bunching up front. We had a few small ripples in the fabric, as it doesn’t stretch much, but the weight of the fabric itself prevented any loud, trash bag-effect flapping.
The single, small zippered pocket hurts the Xenon 2.0’s versatility, but at least there’s a bit of space to stash a tube or wallet.