This shell has a soft feel that’s quiet (not crinkly), and it’s both superlight and supercomfortable. The 2.5-layer Pertex Shield fabric also delivers above-average breathability. As a result, the Kinetic lacks pit zips; the two mesh-lined front pockets double as vents when opened, but testers rarely needed them.
The jacket packs into its own pocket and compresses to the size of an acorn squash. That supremely packable material feels thin, but it stands up to mountain wind, as our tester reported after a blustery day on Norway’s Folgefonna Glacier: The Kinetic kept her warm and dry during a prolonged descent in wind-blown graupel. The cut allows for a fleece or lightweight down layer to be worn underneath. The hood is baggy, but two adjustment options—an external drawcord on the crown of the head and an internal one for the opening—snug it up sufficiently, and the stiff brim shields the eyes from sun and snow.
But the external hood adjustment proved unwieldy to operate (goggles secured the fabric more effectively), and the Kinetic is too insubstantial for fierce weather at high, exposed altitudes. (Note: The external hood drawcord, which some testers say “looks unfinished,” will switch to an internal cord for spring 2011.) $140; 9 oz. (w’s M); w’s XS-XL, m’s S-XL; us.rab.uk.com