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Rab Kinetic Plus Review

A solid alpine performer for mixed weather conditions, this mega stretchy model moves with you - without holding you back
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Price:  $230 List | $229.95 at Backcountry
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Pros:  Stretchiest fabric in our review, cozy interior feel, breathability, robust, low-profile wrist closures, hood maintains good peripheral vision
Cons:  Fabric wets out quicker than some, no chest pocket, hood doesn't fit over a helmet, size up this model to accommodate layering
Manufacturer:   Rab
By Ian Nicholson ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 5, 2020
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73
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 12
  • Water Resistance - 30% 6
  • Breathability & Venting - 25% 8
  • Comfort & Mobility - 18% 9
  • Weight - 15% 7
  • Durability - 5% 7
  • Packed Size - 7% 7

Our Verdict

When you first try on the Rab Kinetic Plus, you may find it feels more like a softshell jacket than a traditional hardshell, thanks to its super stretchy material. It also sports a stretch-woven feeling exterior as well as a soft brushed interior. Don't let the softshell feel fool you; it's at home on soggy backpacking trips or stormy days of ski touring. With the Kinetic Plus, it's not just about its stretchiness; this athletically fitting jacket is incredibly breathable, sports an excellent hood design, and is astonishingly versatile. The Kinetic Plus is ideal for any outdoor activity where mobility and maximum range of motion are key.

New Colors

The Kinetic Plus has been granted some updated colors since our test period, but nothing technical has changed about the jacket. The Dark Sulphur color shown above is a current option.

May 2020

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

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.

Performance Comparison


We love its unparalleled level of stretch and freedom of movement  and the Kinetic looks and feels more like a softshell than a hardshell. Photo John Yarnall in a Kinetic above the Luna Creek Cirque in the Northern Pickets  WA.
We love its unparalleled level of stretch and freedom of movement, and the Kinetic looks and feels more like a softshell than a hardshell. Photo John Yarnall in a Kinetic above the Luna Creek Cirque in the Northern Pickets, WA.

Water Resistance


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.

For such a stretchy rain jacket  this model provided exceptionally good DWR. However  it was just so-so for prolonged outings in wetter conditions but still performed better than many price-pointed models.
For such a stretchy rain jacket, this model provided exceptionally good DWR. However, it was just so-so for prolonged outings in wetter conditions but still performed better than many price-pointed models.

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.

All of our testers appreciated this model's low profile cuffs which kept the water out but also resisted snags while thrashing through brush.
All of our testers appreciated this model's low profile cuffs which kept the water out but also resisted snags while thrashing through brush.

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.

This model performed average overall for weather resistance  but nothing to write home about. Photo: While descending from a winter ascent of Mount Whitney in blustery conditions  the Kinetic Plus kept out the wind.
This model performed average overall for weather resistance, but nothing to write home about. Photo: While descending from a winter ascent of Mount Whitney in blustery conditions, the Kinetic Plus kept out the wind.

Hood Design

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.

The hood maintained excellent peripheral vision and its unique double-layered design is effective and comfortable.
The hood maintained excellent peripheral vision and its unique double-layered design is effective and comfortable.

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.

This photo highlights the double-layer hood design  with the inner elastic hood  which goes over the top of the wearer's forehead. We were skeptical of this design but were surprised at how uncumbersome it felt and how well it allowed the hood to move with our heads.
This photo highlights the double-layer hood design, with the inner elastic hood, which goes over the top of the wearer's forehead. We were skeptical of this design but were surprised at how uncumbersome it felt and how well it allowed the hood to move with our heads.

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.

Despite the basic adjustment  the Kinetic's hood was one of our favorites thanks to the double-layered design. It was also one of the better models at maintaining good peripheral vision.
Despite the basic adjustment, the Kinetic's hood was one of our favorites thanks to the double-layered design. It was also one of the better models at maintaining good peripheral vision.

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.

Testing each model's breathability and a side-by-side breathability test. Overall we found the Kinetic to be one of the more breathable models in our review; its air permeable design allows it to keep moving moisture  even after you've cooled down.
Testing each model's breathability and a side-by-side breathability test. Overall we found the Kinetic to be one of the more breathable models in our review; its air permeable design allows it to keep moving moisture, even after you've cooled down.

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.

The Kinetic offers better than average breathability. It's worth noting that is one of the slimmer fitting models in our review; folks who may be between sizes should consider sizing up.
The Kinetic offers better than average breathability. It's worth noting that is one of the slimmer fitting models in our review; folks who may be between sizes should consider sizing up.

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.

The Kinetic was the stretchiest model in our review  offering incredible freedom of movement.
The Kinetic was the stretchiest model in our review, offering incredible freedom of movement.

In addition to an excellent range of motion, the Kinetic Plus has one of the best feeling interior fabric 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 ultra-stretchy fabric of this jacket allows for an exceptionally good range of motion for whatever the task at hand may be.
The ultra-stretchy fabric of this jacket allows for an exceptionally good range of motion for whatever the task at hand may be.

Fit

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 zippered hand pockets are slightly elevated  which keeps them out of the way and accessible with low profile pack waist belts. Bulkier backpacking pack waist belts will overlap a little (this depends a little on the user)  but the zippers are low enough profile that we didn't feel any pinching pain. Since the pockets open from the top  they are still partially accessible when wearing a pack.
The zippered hand pockets are slightly elevated, which keeps them out of the way and accessible with low profile pack waist belts. Bulkier backpacking pack waist belts will overlap a little (this depends a little on the user), but the zippers are low enough profile that we didn't feel any pinching pain. Since the pockets open from the top, they are still partially accessible when wearing a pack.

Pocket Design

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.

Weight


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 has a hood closure but it is small and easily comes undone.
The Kinetic has a hood closure but it is small and easily comes undone.

Durability


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.


While this model didn't reverse into a pocket like many in our review  we liked that it comes with a stuff sack. The stuff sack did a good job of compressing the jacket.
While this model didn't reverse into a pocket like many in our review, we liked that it comes with a stuff sack. The stuff sack did a good job of compressing the jacket.

Packed Size


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.

A nice bonus of the stuff sack is the relatively beefy clip-in point  which makes it easy to attach to your harness to carry along on multi-pitch routes in the event of rain or afternoon thunderstorms.
A nice bonus of the stuff sack is the relatively beefy clip-in point, which makes it easy to attach to your harness to carry along on multi-pitch routes in the event of rain or afternoon thunderstorms.

The Kinetic Plus has a small reinforced clip-in point which can be clipped to a harness for climbers wary of a change in weather or an afternoon thunderstorm.

Value


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 has 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.

This model's ultra-stretchy fabric offers some of the best mobility and range of motion of any model we tested. It's also fairly lightweight and boasts decent breathability  which makes it a perfect option for activities with a higher aerobic threshold.
This model's ultra-stretchy fabric offers some of the best mobility and range of motion of any model we tested. It's also fairly lightweight and boasts decent breathability, which makes it a perfect option for activities with a higher aerobic threshold.

Conclusion


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.

Ian Nicholson