Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Good rain protection, comfortable, durable, made with 3-layer eVent
Cons: Expensive, not heavily featured
Best Uses: Backpacking, hiking, lifestyle
Constructed from three-layer eVent, REI’s Kimtah jacket is a medium weight rain shell that is ideal for long bouts of exposure to the elements or as a lifestyle piece in rainy climates. For hiking or backpacking in rainy conditions where weight is not a huge concern, the Kimtah Jacket will provide excellent protection.
All in all, the Kimtah is a high performing jacket, though we wouldn’t recommend it for ultra-light adventures due to its weight and inability to pack down inside its own pocket. But as an all-around solid rain jacket, this will do the trick. For the best in super lightweight jacket design, check out the Montane Minimus Jacket or for the ultimate feather-weight rain shell try the Outdoor Research Helium 2. Our Editors' Choice award in all-around rainwear that offers slightly less burly rain protection but increased ventilation and comfort features is the Marmot Aegis.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
Constructed with three-layer eVent, the Kimtah bridges the gap between rain shell and hard shell. It is far more durable and breathable than other rain shells we tested, but also more expensive. However it it much less expensive than a typical hard shell.
REI’s Kimtah Jacket offers great water resistance and protection from the elements, stemming both from the eVent fabric itself and design features that help keep water out.
Three-layer eVent fabric is completely waterproof, while at the same time offering more breathability than two-layer materials. All the seams are taped tight, so no water sneaks in through these typically problematic areas. The front pocket zippers are waterproof and DWR coated so water has a tough time making through, and the front zipper is protected by a storm flap.
A roomy hood with a large brim provides good protection for the face, asymmetrically cut cuffs with Velcro cinches keep water from entering in through the sleeves, and the jacket has a longer cut at the waist, providing extended torso coverage. Overall it has bomber rain protection.
While this jacket does not have pit-zips to help with ventilation during high exertion activity, it does not seem to get as clammy as some of the other jackets that we tested. We attribute this noticeably breathable eVent material. It also has mesh-lined hand pockets that can serve as vents.
The fabric on this jacket is noticeably thicker than the other jackets we tested, and while there isn't a liner in the traditional sense, the inside of the jacket does not have the same texture as other rain jackets, which we believe helps contribute to less clammy condensation inside.
Comfort & Mobility
REI’s Kimtah Jacket is not loaded down with comfort features, but the fit is good and it protects from the elements. The interior of the jacket has a different texture and feel than that of the other jackets we tested, making it the most comfortable jacket to throw on over a t-shirt.
The sleeves are asymmetrically cut, providing increased coverage over the top of the hands, and the hood is roomy with a large brim, capable of accommodating a helmet. The front pockets are lined with mesh and are positioned high enough so as to allow for access over a backpack’s waist belt.
We found the jacket’s fit to be good. The waistline is slightly lower than that of other jackets, providing increased coverage when reaching high, as well as increased rain protection for the upper sections of the lower body. We generally didn’t find the jacket to be restricting in any way, although the fabric is noticeably thicker than other jackets we tested, making is somewhat stiffer to move around in.
Though the Kimtah is not loaded down with design features, it does offer a few things that are a step above minimalist jackets. For instance, two mesh-lined front pockets are positioned high enough to allow for access even while wearing a backpack with a hip belt. These pockets can also be opened during high-exertion activity to increase ventilation throughout the jacket. An additional chest pocket features a headphone cord port and is large enough to accommodate an iPhone or a small digital camera.
Asymmetrically cut sleeve cuffs with snow resistant Velcro closures provide additional protection from the elements and a longer waist increases coverage when reaching overhead. Additionally, a roomy hood with a large brim can accommodate a helmet while still providing good protection from the rain.
The basic functions of the elastic drawstrings along the waistline and hood are simple to tighten down with one hand and they stay tight once cinched. All the zippers are protected from seeping water either by waterproof coating or storm flaps.
Weight & Bulk
While not the heaviest jacket we tested, this is not the lightest jacket either. We weighed the jacket at 14.55 ounces, making is lighter than the REI Ultralight Rain Jacket and a solid middle of the road contender. We wouldn’t recommend this jacket as a go-to for endeavors where weight is of the utmost importance, but for adventures where a rain jacket is needed and weight is not a huge issue, or as a lifestyle piece, this jacket might quickly become the one that leaves the closet most. It does not pack down into one of its own pockets, limiting its portability.
Made from three-layer eVent, the Kimtah is the closest thing you can get to a hard shell in the rain jacket category.This gives it added versatility and durability. It excels at backpacking, hiking, biking, camping, alpine climbing, skiing.
At $240, this hard shell-esque rain shell is a fairly good deal. It costs half-the price of most hard shells, but offers almost the same performance and product life. Though it is pricey when compared to other rain shells, this jacket is more breathable and will last longer. We think it is worth the price. For a similarly durable rain shell, check out the Marmot Minimalist Jacket, which is slightly less expensive and a tiny bit heavier.
If you are looking for an inexpensive hard shell or a notably durable rain shell, this is the jacket to get. The materials and construction are exceptional, though it is a rather heavy weight rain shell.
— Rob Beno and McKenzie Long
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: December 3, 2013
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