Rab Kinetic Plus Review
Cons: No chest pocket, hood and wrist closures difficult to operate
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Rab Kinetic Plus is designed for fast and light pursuits in the mountains, where function is crucial, and poor weather might be endured. Instead of bringing multiple jackets, the hybrid softshell can serve both needs. Able to breathe as well as repel weather, the Kinetic Plus is sleek, trim, and meant for adventures where every ounce counts.
The Kinetic Plus uses a Proflex membrane which is meant to be as waterproof as it is breathable. Taped seams as found on hardshell jackets give credence to its ability in withstanding wetness. What we found in real-world testing was that the Kinetic Plus does a good job of withstanding gale force winds, driving snow and misty weather. However, in our shower test, it performed as well as the Rab Torque but nearly as well as the equally lightweight Editors' Choice winning Arcteryx Psiphon FL. Wet climates call for a true hardshell jacket, so we should not hold softshells to too high of a standard, though calling this fully waterproof is a stretch.
We did appreciate the stretch on the hood which employs a gusset to ensure a good secure fit whether wearing a helmet or a hat. There are cuff closures to seal around a glove or wrist, which worked effectively.
We took this jacket out on a winter ascent of Mount Whitney in the Sierra Nevada Range and encountered warm and sunny weather low and extreme winds with blowing snow up high. No matter if we layered this jacket over a T-Shirt or an insulated jacket like the Outdoor Research Ascendent, we found that it breathed exceptionally well when working and sweating hard. Of course a lighter weight material such as used on the Outdoor Research Ferrosi is almost unbeatable for breathability. Considering the weather protection that the Kinetic Plus offers, it is quite capable in this regard, outscoring most other jackets in our review.
This jacket is built to travel in the mountains, where excess material can slow you down. Made from a stretchy Proflex fabric, Kinetic Plus is trim fit, allowing the wearer to layer a light fleece and a thin insulated jacket underneath but not much more. Certainly less baggy than the Black Diamond Dawn Patrol or Marmot ROM, we appreciated its athletic cut.
We confirmed the weight of the Kinetic Plus at 11 ounces (or .68 pounds), which for a hybrid softshell jacket of this caliber is unbelievably light. Lighter than even the Outdoor Research Ferrosi jacket while still having a hood, we were astonished to see that it was effective as it was in marginal conditions. This weight was achieved by eliminating many features, however, so will not be as user-friendly as a fully featured coat like the Mountain Hardwear Dragon.
In the name of weight savings, the Kinetic Plus does away with most features, leaving only the most critical functions of a mountain jacket attended to. The Kinetic Plus has a hood, which uses a stretchy fabric gusset to get a good and secure fit with the head. The hood has a single velcro closure on the back of the head, which does not offer a lot of range and is tough to operate.
Like the hood closure, the cuff closures use very narrow strips of velcro, which are hard to use especially with gloves. Making these a bit wider would have been well worth the extra grams that may have been saved. Two handwarmer pockets are the only places to put anything, though the Kinetic Plus does come with its stuff sack making this an easy jacket to clip to the back of a harness for a climbing route.
The style of the Kinetic Plus is simple and unassuming. With a trim, athletic fit, we found the jacket to be true to size and allow for minimal layering without being bulky or baggy. Available in three subtle colors, you can wear this around town and not feel like you belong in a base camp.
This is a great jacket for mountain adventurers who require a high-quality softshell layer that can shield them from all but the wettest conditions while remaining light and mobile.
With a retail price of $230, this jacket is one of the more expensive in our review. At only $10 less than the Editors' Choice winning Arcteryx Psiphon FL, which was much more water resistant, we can say that the Kinetic Plus is a good, though not a great deal.
Astonished by the incredibly light weight of the Rab Kinetic Plus, we were impressed by its high level of mobility and windproofness in very challenging conditions. We would recommend it to those who desire a trimmed down softshell for use in alpine sports.
— Ryan Huetter