Long-Term Review: RAB Kinetic Plus Jacket

When RAB introduced the Kinetic Plus jacket last Fall, I was really excited to test it out. The Kinetic is a new, one of kind, softshell. It’s not intended for any activity in particular, but rather can be used for almost every activity and every season. Thus far I’ve worn the Kinetic ice climbing, scrambling, mountaineering, climbing up via ferratas, hiking, and on occasion, flying, as well as regular day-day activities like touristing or just as a simple windshell.

Wind AF in Death Valley, California, but the Kinetic is light enough to wear in warm weather as a wind-breaker.

The Kinetic is a lightweight and waterproof jacket. That’s great right? But there are so many waterproof jackets out there, why get so excited about this one? In addition to it being light and waterproof it’s also a stretch membrane! RAB found a way to sandwich a hydrophilic polyurethane membrane between two high gauge knit fabrics in a way that allows for a lot of flex. It has more give than expected, and stretches in any direction.

I did have some initial skepticism about a jacket that was stretchy, light, and waterproof. I mean, would the fabric still be waterproof while it was being stretched? Or could water seep in through some sections? I wore the Kinetic on a warm, early spring day at Haffner. The water dripped down the main flow, like a full on coastal drizzle. The droplets slowly accumulated on the Kinetic but didn’t pass through, keeping my mid- and base-layers nice and dry.

I climbed a soaking-wet Whiteman Falls in the Kinetic Plus— everything else got soaked but my upper stayed dry. It really is fantastic: stretchy, light, breathable and completely waterproof. 

—Raf
Ice climbing in the Ouray Ice Pack, Colorado, back in January 2018.

Although it’s not a ‘wind’ shell, I find it keeps out strong breezes while still maintaining breathability. This is great when doing more cardio intensive activities like hiking, scrambling, or mountaineering. Heck even paragliding in moderate elevations, travelling directly into cool air, I found the wind protection great.

Because of the stretchy membrane the Kinetic is really pleasant to move around in. It’s also long enough that the jacket stays put even with arms stretched overhead while climbing. RAB lists the fit as ‘slim’ and this is the one point I don’t fully agree with. At 5’10” and with a moderate athletic build, I wear a size large (a medium was too tight around my shoulders) but the area around the waist was loose enough to require about 6″ of hemming to narrow it in. As the Kinetic doesn’t have a hem drawcord the bagginess was hard to hide. The width of the jacket around the chest, just under armpits, is rather tight. You can see both in my photos and the model on the RAB website that there is a bit of pulling under the armpits. As with any jacket though, the particulars of fit can vary from individual to individual so I hope this isn’t the case for everyone. The sleeves however, fit me great. I do wish that the velcro adjusters around the wrist were a bit larger and held more securely to reduce the amount of velcro undoings during re-layering.

I find the fit in a Men’s Medium spot-on, and don’t even mind the non-adjustable hem too much as it’s relatively close-cut.

—Raf

When hiking, or doing another activity that doesn’t require the use of a helmet, the Kinetic’s hood is really practical and comfortable. It hugs snug around the head, and the hood has an additional rigid peak to keep rain from dripping onto your face. If you’re planning on using it with a helmet you’ll unfortunately find the fit really-really tight. The fabric tends to pull up along the shoulders to accommodate for the additional noggin’ protection. Things like turning your head side to side do become more challenging, though not unbearable.

Warm but breezy day scrambling along the David Thompson Highway, Alberta.

Another feature you’ll find is the two side pockets. The YKK AquaGuard zippers on the pockets along with the seam sealing ensure that water doesn’t get in.  Inside the jacket you won’t find any visible stitching; each and every seam has been seam sealed. A tiny hood protects water from seeping in at the top of the zipper. The pockets are lower down on the torso, which are useful for activities that don’t require a harness. I don’t typically find I need to access my pockets while climbing so this isn’t too much of an inconvenience for me. 

I do find the hood too tight, and I absolutely hate the two hand-pockets that end up under a harness when climbing. That soft stretchy waterproof fabric, though… it’s just phenomenal!

—Raf

Even after taking into consideration my minor qualms about the fit you’ll still see me wearing this jacket for most of my outdoor adventures. You can check out my Instagram feed for proof. And if I’m not wearing it in a particular picture, I can almost guarantee that the jacket is stored and ready to go in my pack. The stretchy, comfortable fit, excellent breathability, and waterproofness just make this jacket too indispensable and a must have.

The end of a wet day at Haffner Creek, British Columbia.

 

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