Rab Kinetic Plus Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
Rab released a new version of this jacket called the Kinetic 2.0. This updated version has a slightly more relaxed fit and features an adjustable drawcord along the bottom hem. The Kinetic 2.0 also utilizes recycled polyester in its face fabric. Compare the two jackets; the Kinetic Plus is shown left, followed by the Kinetic 2.0, right.
The Rab Kinetic Plus provides a nearly unparalleled level of mobility and freedom of movement. It also offers excellent breathability and a cozy interior feel. This, coupled with a trim fit, makes it perfect for any high-energy activity. It isn't the best choice for straight-up hanging out in the rain, as we did find this model to wet out quicker than other higher-end models we tested.
The Kinetic Plus uses Rab's propriety Proflex waterproof membrane; it has an ultra-stretchy knit polyester exterior and a plush, wicking interior, complete with brushed polyester fabric on the inside. The Proflex membrane is a PU membrane, which is one of the main reasons this model is so impressively stretchy.
Its weather resistance was good, but not extraordinary. In the first stages of testing, where the Durable Water Repellent, or DWR, was astoundingly good, this model did well. After some wear, we remained dry, but the exterior of the jacket would start to wet out, making the jacket feel damp on the inside. Most of the time, it was fine in light rain, but after extended periods in wet weather or if we found ourselves hiking up an overgrown trail immediately after a rainstorm, the exterior fabrics would certainly wet out.
With that in mind, the Kinetic Plus performed better than more basic non-laminated models. If we knew we're going to get rained on for extended periods, we preferred a burlier rain jacket, like the Arc'teryx Zeta SL or REI DryPoint GTX.
We appreciated several of the small features built into this jacket's design, which kept the elements out while playing in foul weather. Features like the low-profile Velcro cuffs, which were extremely comfortable, rarely snagged, and kept the wetness out better than most when our hands were above our head.
The hood employs a unique design that we haven't seen in previous years. It has two layers to it; the first and outermost layer is like any hood you've seen, which has a brim. The second is an inside layer that wraps above the wearer's forehead and acts like a gaiter of sorts, with an elastic cuff that keeps it in place.
Our testers were skeptical of this design before using it; they thought it would be uncomfortable and bordering on claustrophobic feeling. However, after extensive use, it proved to be neither. To our surprise, this design was extremely comfortable and kept the wetness out while moving with the tester, maintaining some of the best peripheral vision in our review.
The hood doesn't feature an elastic cinching mechanism. Instead, it uses a single Velcro tap on the back of the hood, which can be used to tighten the hood. We usually don't find similar designs to be incredibly effective, as they have the probability of limiting peripheral vision. This design, however, complete with an internal hood gaiter, proved otherwise. While this model is undoubtedly geared toward climbers, it's worth noting that it doesn't fit over a bike or climbing helmet, but is low profile and comfortable enough that it can easily be worn underneath one.
Breathability & Venting
The Kinetic Plus is one of the more breathable models in our fleet. Its PU laminate is more breathable than coated membranes, and many ePTFE models (Gore-tex and eVent fall into this category, though their water-resistance is generally longer-lasting).
Its brushed polyester lining is soft and did not feel clammy against our skin.
The Kinetic Plus doesn't feature any real ventilation options. Technically speaking, its two pockets can be used to dump heat and moisture, but it is a pretty minuscule amount. When determining the significance, our testers found that breathability is far more important than venting; for example, if it's pouring or you're walking on a damp, overgrown trail, opening up your vents is a quick way to get wet.
Comfort and Mobility
Mobility and freedom of movement set the Kinetic Plus apart from other models in our review.
Stretchier than most, this is truly an important attribute.
In addition to an excellent range of motion, the Kinetic Plus has one of the best feeling interior fabrics of any model in our review. It feels amazingly soft, even against bare skin. This fabric is more of a wicking fabric, whereas the interior materials of most rain jackets are primarily designed to protect the waterproof membrane, which has been sandwiched inside.
The Kinetic Plus has one of the most athletic fits, which means it has a slimmer fit; fortunately, we could still fit a thin fleece (such as a Patagonia R1 under our size medium, which is our main tester's typical size), thanks to its slim fit in the sleeves, elbow areas, and torso. If you're looking to buy this jacket to layer underneath, you'll want to consider sizing up, especially if you are in-between sizes.
The pocket design of the Kinetic Plus is no frills. It sports two front pockets, which split the difference between being more comfort-focused (lower) and more function-focused (higher and out of the way of a waist belt). While we would like to see such an activity-focused model sport even higher pockets, the pocket design doesn't interfere with a harness. Its zippers are low enough profile to minimize any discomfort you might get from a pack's hip belt. The pockets are mesh-lined and cozy on your hands, but if left open, can acquire water on the inside.
We confirmed the weight of the Kinetic Plus, which rolls in at 10 ounces.
While it isn't quite as light as some minimal models, which checked in around 6-7.5 ounces, it's significantly more durable and offers better breathability and a superior range of motion.
The Kinetic Plus is plenty suitable for most outdoor activities, as it's a jacket that will handle backpacking, hiking, ski touring, and alpine rock climbing.
The Kinetic Plus comes with a small, separate stuff sack and compresses down to a nice size.
We appreciate the included stuff sack, which performs reasonably well in compressing the model down. Several other rain jackets included stuff sacks that are nearly twice as big as they need to be, something that makes it easy to pack, but doesn't minimize the volume it takes up in your pack.
The Kinetic Plus has a small reinforced clip-in point that can be clipped to a harness for climbers wary of a change in weather or an afternoon thunderstorm.
This jacket is on the more expensive side, though more in tune with the price of performance-oriented models. Similar performing models, like the Outdoor Research Foray, have comparable ranges, while the Kinetic Plus costs less than the REI Co-Op Drypoint GTX. For the price of the Kinetic Plus, you'll get an incredibly stretchy fabric, which provides some of the best range of motion of any model in our review plus above-average breathability, excellent stormworthiness, and a rad, effective hood design.
If unencumbered freedom of movement and maximum mobility are priorities for your rain jacket, then the super stretchy Rab Kinetic Plus should be a strong consideration. It's not the best model for spending extended periods in heavy downpours, as this model would consistently wet out a bit faster than similarly priced models. However, for more active endeavors where rain is a possibility, its breathability, athletic fit, sweet hood design, and cozy feel make it an excellent choice.
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