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 is every bit a hardshell and is 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.
Rab Kinetic Plus Review
Compare prices at 4 resellers Pros: Stretchiest fabric in our review, cozy interior feel, breathability, robust, pleasant low-profile wrist closures, hood design is comfortable and maintains good peripheral vision
Cons: No chest pocket, hood doesn't fit over a helmet, size up this model to accommodate layering
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Our Analysis and Test Results
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 overall weather resistance was excellent, especially in the first stages of testing, where the Durable Water Repellent, or DWR, was astoundingly good. After a fair amount of wear, we remained dry in most cases; however, during extended periods in wet conditions, such as hiking up overgrown trails immediately after a rainstorm, the exterior fabric's DWR started to slightly wet out. With that in mind, the Kinetic Plus performed better than more basic non-laminated models like the Marmot PreCip, The North Face Venture 2, or Patagonia Torrentshell, and was similar in water resistance performance to the Outdoor Research Helium II.
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 outer most 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 is significantly more breathable than the Marmot Precip and Patagonia Torrentshell, and similar to the Outdoor Research Interstellar and REI Co-op Drypoint GTX, which both use Gore-Tex Active.
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, including the Patagonia Storm Racer, Mountain Hardwear Quasar Lite, or Black Diamond Fineline, this is truly a notable attribute.
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 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. Featuring a slim fit in the sleeves, elbow areas, and torso, this fit is different than most models in our fleet, as we could fit a thin fleece and often, a light puffy coat under other models. 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 11 ounces, or 0.68 pounds.
While it isn't quite as light as some minimal models, which checked in around 6-7.5 ounces (the Patagonia Storm Racer was the lightest), it's significantly more durable and offers better breathability and 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.
It's similar in durability to the Mountain Hardwear Quasar Lite and the Outdoor Research Interstellar but not nearly as tough as the Arc'teryx Beta SL, Outdoor Research Foray, or the Marmot Minimalist.
The Kinetic Plus comes with a small, separate stuff sack and compresses slightly smaller than average models in our review.
We appreciate the included stuff sack, which performs reasonably well in compressing the model down. Several other rain jackets included stuff sacks that are near 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 which can be worn on a harness for climbers wary of a change in weather or an afternoon thunderstorm. It packed down slightly smaller than the Outdoor Research Foray or Arc'teryx Beta SL, similar to the Mountain Hardwear Quasar Lite, and nearly as small as the Black Diamond Fineline and Patagonia Storm Racer.
The Kinetic Plus is great for any outdoor activity where mobility and maximum range of motion are key. Our testers loved this jacket for alpine climbing and ice climbing where we only use this jacket and not a softshell. We found ourselves reaching for this jacket during stormy ski and splitboard touring days, where its freedom of movement and cozy interior feel are ideal. This jacket also offers excellent performance for backpacking and day hiking, though you'll want to consider sizing up this slim-fitting model to help accommodate layers underneath.
With a retail price of $230, this jacket is on the more expensive side of jackets, though more in tune with the price of performance-oriented models. Similar performing models, like the Outdoor Research Foray ($215) and Mountain Hardwear Quasar Lite ($240) have comparable ranges, while the Kinetic Plus costs less than the Patagonia Cloud Ridge ($250), or the REI Co-Op Drypoint GTX ($250). 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 storm-worthiness, and a rad, effective hood design. Plus, it is still less than the Outdoor Research Interstellar or the Arc'teryx Beta SL (both $300).
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 of time in heavy downpours, where 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