Model: Kinetic Plus
At first, we didn’t know what to make of this jacket. Surely nothing this supple and all-around comfortable could really protect against the elements, right? But through Colorado sleet, early-season Yellowstone snow, high winds in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, and car-wash mist in Colombia, the Kinetic Plus made us believers.
The secret is in Rab’s new Proflex material, which pairs a highly flexible PU membrane with a knit polyester face fabric (most hardshells use stiffer nylon) and a wicking backer. Rab spent nine months zeroing in on the perfect combination of durability and stretch. Then designers fine-tuned the lamination process to ensure the membrane maintained its flex. “It feels like a long-sleeve T-shirt,” says Gear Editor Scott Yorko. “There’s absolutely no movement restriction, even though it’s a slim fit. And the interior lining feels soft against bare skin.”
Breathability is impressive, too; it let us soldier on through changing conditions in Colombia without having to break stride to take it on and off. “I happily wore it even when it wasn’t raining,” reports one Yellowstone ranger.
Smart features, like a double-brimmed hood, enhance the Kinetic Plus’s weather-busting chops. An elastic-lined band holds the hood snugly around your face, while a stiffened visor blocks rain. Our lone complaint: The hood only adjusts via one cord at the back, so it slid down when we looked uphill, obscuring the view.
But if you want a jacket that obliterates the line between hardshell and softshell once and for all, this is it.