Words by Ali White
Firstly, I will admit that I had my doubts about the Kinetic Plus. Rab claims it to be waterproof, however on the first inspection I didn’t believe them. The Proflex material is much closer to that of a light weight softshell such as my Rab Ventus jacket than any waterproof jacket I have owned. As you can imagine this only added to my concerns, surely this jacket can’t be waterproof?
Through the winter months, I have been neglecting the Kinetic Plus having opted for my Fjallraven Eco Shell waterproof the majority of the time, however, with the deadline for my review looming I had to really put it through its paces. Luckily I have a 16-month-old welsh collie so didn’t have to look far for an excuse.
The jacket comes with a stuff sack that makes chucking the Kinetic in the bottom of your bag incredibly easy, giving you a waterproof jacket packed up to the size of a coke can that can quite literally go everywhere with you. The Kinetic is an “active” fit as it should be, being aimed at fast and light activities. However, this never feels restrictive thanks to the stretch provided by the Proflex material. The two A-line pockets are spacious enough to carry the essentials without causing discomfort yet sit low enough to be used comfortably as hand pockets. All three zips are YKK aqua guard giving you the sense of security that your kit is safe and dry. The cuffs use a seam free design that really adds to the ease of use, stopping them from catching on zips or pockets making the jacket effortless to wear.
The hood is something entirely different. Rab hasn’t stuck with cinch cords but rather more of a “stretch on” hood to give you an incredibly well fitted hood with the slimmest profile possible. There is a Velcro adjustment at the back of the hood to fine tune the fit and a laminated stiff peak that keeps the rain from running into your face and into the jacket. At first feel, the hood is weird, to say the least, but in next to no time to you barely notice it’s there. Couple this with the soft Proflex fabric and the result is a comfortable hood that is quiet and follows your head as you move, giving a great range of movement and vision.
Now for the big question, is this jacket actually waterproof? Recently the weather has given me no shortage of days to really test this jacket in the rain and it has blown me away. From a blustery woodland walk behind my house to exposure in the sleet on the side of Clee Hill, the Kinetic Plus has kept everything out, beading up instantly and keeping all signs of moisture out. I am a reasonably warm person and with a hard-shell jacket inevitably end up with an issue with moisture build up. The breathability on the Kinetic Plus rivals my light summer softshell jackets with ease and rarely steams up.
This breathability as you can imagine has a minor downside and although infinitely impressive, the wind resistance is compromised, and a good strong winter gust will cut through the Kinetic Plus with reasonable ease. This lead me to discover that combining this piece with a mid-weight wind resistant midlayer it works perfectly in wet and windy conditions. The insulation and added wind repellence of the midlayer gives you enough warmth for colder months, while the Kinetic Plus gives you the confidence to go just about anywhere.
All in all, the Rab Kinetic Plus has easily knocked my doubts out of the window; it has well and truly cemented itself as my go-to jacket for the summer especially. Its packability and breathability make it ideal for light summer adventures when you can never be too sure of the weather yet twinned with a synthetic insulation layer will happily cope with winter conditions without skipping a beat. Well done Rab, this jacket is an incredible jack of all trades at an amazing price, just wish I had got it in Horizon orange…