Our Rab Kinetic Ultra Jacket Review explores a running focussed ultralight hard shell from The Mountain People. Please read on to find out more.
The Rab Kinetic Ultra is part of Rab’s Skyline range. Skyline is a selection of garments with running focussed features and Rab’s legendary attention to design detail. The range includes a comprehensive selection of base layers, mid layers and shells. The Kinetic Ultra is one of two hardshells in the range. The Phantom is an ultralight layer probably better suited as a just in case option. The Kinetic Ultra is a fully featured layer that will give all day protection in gnarly weather. We look forward to exploring the Phantom in a future review. For now, the focus is the Kinetic Ultra. Please read on to find out more about this innovative product.
The Kinetic Ultra is made from Rab’s own Proflex fabric. This is a 3 layer recycled stretch polyester with a PU membrane and recycled polyester backer. The Kinetic also has a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) coating . The fabric weighs 120gsm (gram per square metre) and has a hydrostatic head of 10,000mm.
There is a central full length YKK reverse coil zipper with waterproof storm flap. There is a close fitting cap style hood with laminated peak, crown volume adjustment and a rear vent for regulated airflow. The hood can be rolled away and secured with a retainer bungee. Ventilation is further helped by rear yolk airflow holes with protective overlap.
For hand protection Rab have added extended cuffs with stretch binding. A lightweight single sided rear hem adjustment with anti-snag tether. A YKK Aquaguard zipped pocket sits on the upper part of the left arm. Finally, there are multi angle reflective logos in strategic points.
The Kinetic Ultra weighs 227 grams in a size medium. It is available in either the Aspen Green/Zest colour (tested) or black and costs £180.
For this Rab Kinetic Ultra Jacket review I was sent the cheerful two tone Aspen Green/Zest colour. This looks great. The colours compliment each other really well and look sunny even on the grimmest of days. I think there is also a safety element to having a brightly coloured top. As usual, Rab’s legendary attention to detail is also immediately obvious and on initial inspection the quality looks great. So, how does it perform?
Well, the first mention I’d like to make is about the feel of Proflex. Whereas some hard shell fabrics can feel stiff or crinkly, Proflex feels great. Infact, far more like a softshell fabric. This softness makes it very comfortable to wear over extended periods and it isn’t noisy to move around in.
The fit of the Kinetic Ultra is defined as slim and athletic. The medium fitted my 38” chest and what I would describe as regular well, although I would have been interested to also try on a size small as I suspect that might have been fine too. The medium for me is certainly wearable, but on the baggier side. I found the length good for my 5’8” height. Also worth mentioning is that the jacket doesn’t feel restrictive. The combination of stretch Proflex and room in the upper arms allows excellent freedom of movement.
Amongst other fit considerations, I find the hood to be a brilliant design. It has room for a hat or hood underneath while being snug enough to be protective in challenging weather. It also moves with you which is essential when clear visibility is needed. Just to mention that it wouldn’t fit a helmet under, but it obviously wasn’t designed for that option. The stiffened peak is also great at keeping the weather out or even offering some protection from sunlight (you may be wearing the Kinetic Ultra to protect from wind on a sunny day). It doesn’t offer much protection from the sides, but in straight down rain it works a treat. It also folds away easily on those days you don’t want it flapping around.
A final mention on fit should go to the sleeve cuffs. This design is great. The sleeves are long enough to pull over the hands if needed. Although I should mention this might not work so well for those with longer arms. There are lots of times when I find some temporary hand protection preferable to putting gloves on. Alternatively, there may be times where you are wearing a thinner glove and just want to add another layer of protection. Again the sleeves can help. Then, when you need to pull it back (such as to look at your watch) the elasticated cuff allows that easily.
So, after all that, what about how the Kinetic Ultra protects the user. Proflex is designed to offer weather protection alongside excellent breathability. At 10,000mm hydrostatic head, Proflex easily classes as waterproof. Anything over 4000mm classes as waterproof. That said, there are also shells with a rating of over 20,000mm. What Proflex does is seek to strike a balance between high levels of weather protection and excellent breathability.
I have used the jacket in some very challenging weather recently. This has included long stints in snow, heavy rain and strong wind. It has kept me comfortably protected every time. But, alongside this, it does breath exceptionally well. This is undoubtedly down to the qualities of Proflex, but it is great that Rab have also designed in vents. As mentioned in the features section, these sit both in the back of the hood and on the rear yolk.
The front zip seals you in snugly, but is also great for allowing ventilation when needed. To aid this Rab have also added an upper storm flap snap fastener. This is a great addition as it means you can have the zip undone and yet still have the protection of the hood. This also allows you to keep the jacket well sealed around the shoulders even in windy conditions. I have found myself using this feature a lot.
One other interesting feature is the sleeve pocket. Rab say this can be used for small items like a card, key or gel. I’m sure they are right, but I confess I haven’t used it once. I wouldn’t keep a key in a pocket or my sleeve as I suspect it would rattle around. I also tend to have better storage places for gels or other food that I would prefer. This might be a running vest or all of my shorts or tights have storage pockets. The pocket would surely suit some people, but I could take it or leave it.
At 277 grams, the Kinetic Ultra is very lightweight and yet there are certainly plenty of much lighter running jackets available. There are also plenty of running jackets that will pack up smaller. But what I think Rab have nailed with this is versatility. It will serve as a hard shell, but is also plenty breathable enough to use as a windproof.
This means that you might often be able to take one jacket to cover two bases. This also works as often a longer run probably mixes conditions that would suit a windproof and then the wind whips up and a hardshell will be needed. On that basis I think the Kinetic Ultra is such a good option. It has become my go to jacket over the winter months and I see it covering the Spring and Autumn too. Of course, in a U.K. summer a hardshell is still often needed.
I also wanted to give a final nod to the environmental credentials of Rab products. They have very clear sustainability goals and are making huge strides in being industry leaders in this vital area. The Kinetic Ultra, for example, is made from recycled polyester with a recycled backer. This is in line with a large and growing proportion of their product range. They are also fully transparent about their progress and details are available via their page here.
Our Rab Kinetic Ultra Jacket Review explores a corker of a jacket for runners heading out in challenging weather. The jacket features well thought out running specific features and Rab Proflex performs superbly in keeping weather out while also allowing moisture to escape from the inside. It offers run all day comfort and I also think, at a retail price of £180, great value. It also boasts excellent environmental credentials.
This will certainly be of interest to runners, but it is worth also saying that its feature set and performance will also appeal to other users too. Anyone aiming for fast and light fast packing adventures or bike packers might appreciate its capabilities. It is another great product from Rab. Please do visit their website to find out more about the Kinetic Ultra here. There website also has details about all the other products in the Skyline range.
We have been delighted to work with Rab for many years and have previously tested a broad range of their products. Alongside this Rab Kinetic Ultra Jacket Review, we have also tested, amongst many other items, their running focussed Windveil Pull-On Jacket here. We also reviewed their Kinetic Alpine Jacket here and Mythic Ultra Jacket here. All our reviews are available via our blog reviews section.