Worn and tested by Trek Scotland in the Scottish Highlands whilst Multi Day Trekking through Spring to early Winter 2019.
The instantly noticeable feature when receiving the Kinetic Alpine jacket and pants is certainly the fabric. Rab’s own Proflex fabric has the feel of a softshell yet claims to be fully waterproof. Rab explain “the outer and inner layers of Proflex are engineered” with high gauge knits – “the outer treated for water repellency and the inner wicking to move moisture.” It’s certainly true that the Kinetic Alpine has an impressive amount of stretch that straight out of the packaging feels much more comfortable when compared to a hardshell. Rab claim that Proflex will change the way you dress in the mountains. We’re not so sure we can completely agree with this statement, but the Kinetic Alpine jacket and pants certainly appear to suit a wider range of activities due to this increased movement, breathability and comfort.
Both items feel light to wear with the jacket in a medium size coming it at just 366 grams and the pants in a medium at an equally respectable 270 grams.
We received the jacket in Firecracker (orange) and the trousers in Beluga (black/dark grey). Reinforced ceramic print overlays in high wear areas are more noticeable on the trousers rather than the jacket and overall both have decent stylings. Both are slim fitting items but with the extra stretch they don’t feel restrictive and can easily accommodate an extra warming layer underneath. Both are well proportioned in terms of arm length, back length and leg length. We received ours in a medium size and at 5ft 8in they fitted nicely. One of our taller guides did find the leg length a bit short and opted instead for a large size of the trousers.
A YKK AquaGuard Vislon front zip with internal storm flap can be found on the jacket, combined with YKK AquaGuard zippers that are used on the two large hand pockets. Personally, we would have preferred to have the pocket placement with entry at the chest similar to Rab’s Latok, but even with a harness on, the pockets are still accessible. The pants follow a similar pattern with YKK AquaGuard zippers on two hand pockets, a reversible zipper, and the two expanding ankle closures. All pockets are big enough to accommodate items such as a full-sized OS map, mobile phone, GPS, compass, etc.
The pants include a low profile draw cord waist adjustment that's a simple solution to provides a secure tension. Unfortunately, after lots of use the little plastic mold on the trousers has rotated slightly which results in the pull tie becoming undone. This did happen quite recently, and we are of yet, to speak to Rab about the issue. In the past their customer service has been excellent so we’re sure this would be an easy fix.
A standout feature of the jacket is the hood. So many companies let themselves down when it comes to the hood but Rab have nailed this one. When not in use it stays neatly out of the way but when needed fits securely to the head with an easy to use concealed draw cord adjuster and it also has a laminated and stiffened peak. Even in high winds the hood stays in place and due to the Proflex being completely windproof, keeps you hidded away from the elements. The hood also easily accommodates a helmet and due to the stretch of the fabric is one of the nicest to use when lots of movement is required.
Included with both the jacket and pants is a stuff sac. It’s a great little extra and means you can pack the Kinetic Alpine jacket and pants down to a very small size which can easily fit into an accessible hand pocket, in your rucksack or attached to a harness ready for use when required.
The Kinetic Alpine pants work just as impressively which makes them a great choice for long days in steep environments. They also worked fantastically whilst out on one of our recent bike-packing trips. Worn just on their own next to the skin, with shorts, or over trekking trousers, they surpass expectations when compared to a large majority of soft waterproof trousers in which many fail to be waterproof.
Wearing the pants all day is an area that divided the opinion of our guides. With such small zippers at the ankle you are required to remove footwear before wearing. One of our guides didn’t mind this as he was very happy to wear the Kinetic Alpine pants from the car and back to the finish. They also noted that with a reduced size zipper this became an area less likely to be susceptible to wear whilst also offering a larger amount of the Proflex material to stretch and move freely. For our other guide, he just wanted more freedom to grab the Kinetic Alpine pants out of the pack and wear instantly without the need to remove footwear. In many ways this is an indication to what you want from a pair of pants such as the Kinetic Alpines. If you are after a waterproof pant that can be worn all day and you don’t mind the feeling of the material against your skin, then this is the perfect option. If you want a pant just for when the weather takes a turn, then you may want to consider an alternative option.
When it comes to shedding away rain and snow there is a compromise that comes with a fabric such as the Proflex. With a Hydrostatic Head of 10,000, the Kinetic Alpine is great for days in rain showers or snowfall are intermittent, but when it sets in for the day unfortunately it does wet out. This is most noticeable around the shoulders, back, and crotch where the fabric is in contact with your backpack or harness. On the first few outings this was less apparent but over time this became more of an issue, even after reproofing. The Kinetic Alpine is likely to stay at home, swapped for a more traditional hardshell for when weather forecasts look particularly poor, especially over prolonged periods. This is us being a bit harsh on Rab, as the Kinetic Alpine can easily handle light rainfall, and the odd heavy shower and even when wetted out, it is able to dry again very quickly. This is by far the best example we have used, up to now, where a fabric has tried to bridge the gap between a softshell and full waterproof hardshell effectively.
What was surprising was the durability. After 6 months heavy use we expected both the jacket and pants to show some early signs of wear. Previous encounters with similar fabrics, especially ones that also use a stitch free hem, often don’t stand the test of time. Both items are still in near perfect condition which is testament to the reinforced ceramic print overlay on the high-wear areas in particular. We have used the Alpine Kinetic for single and multi-day treks, over rocky terrain, with a variety of pack sizes and weights. We would however be a bit concerned about taking a fragile fabric like the Proflex on our woodland adventures where constant abrasion against vegetation and rock would be unavoidable.
There can be no arguments that Rab have raised a lot of interest with the Kinetic Alpine jacket and pants. Never before have we worn a garment that has the comfort and breathability of a softshell yet achieved the brief of it also being a very decent waterproof. You will be kept dry on all but the days of long spells of heavy rain. The star of the show is undoubtably Rab’s Proflex fabric which delivers far more than it may first appear. There has been a divide among our guides about how comfortable the proflex fabric is to wear directly next to skin, and also an issue surrounding the pants in regard to the need to be worn throughout an entire day. We have agreed that out of the two the jacket is our favoured item and has been a pleasure to wear in a multitude of different environments and activities. Breathability, comfort, and movement due to the fantastic stretch of the Proflex makes the Kinetic Alpine a perfect choice for steep climbs, scrambling, mountain biking, and any other high activity sport in which these areas are key. If you plan to walk in heavy downpours with a large pack, then it’s best to go for a more traditional shell as the Kinetic Alpine unfortunate falls just short in these conditions.
Trek Scotland is a small family business based in the picturesque village of Tomintoul in the North East region of the Cairngorms National Park. They provide bespoke Mountain Guiding for Single Day Walks and Lightweight Multiday Trekking experiences, including wild camping, in the stunning Cairngorms wilderness and surrounding areas. Whether in the high mountains or lower valleys, their Multiday Treks are equipped with high quality, lightweight camping and trekking gear. They only work with small groups and, whatever your ability, pride themselves on designing your outdoor experience completely to your needs and with professional guidance and expertise. Adventure is waiting...