The Kinesis uses a unique ‘Octoyarn Warp-Knit’ lining to provide active insulation, essentially working in the same way as Polartec Alpha. Without another brand label, Polartec, being included in the jacket the cost is lower than expected which is obviously a pretty significant bonus. As a fan of the Alpha material I was interested (and somewhat sceptical in all honesty) as to how it would perform out in the mountains when you really need it to.
As autumn turned into winter I had a number of outings in the Lake District with the Kinesis. The temperatures with in single figures with a significant wind chill factor at times. I wore the Kinesis over a baselayer each time and despite that fact that I generally feel the cold quite a bit I’m happy to report that this jacket was exceptional. It is definitely more suited to cooler/cold conditions as the morning I first went out I started climbing up the sheltered but surprisingly sunny slopes in Great Langdale and I was melting. The Kinesis offers ‘active insulation’ meaning it works best when you are active. However, going uphill in the sun with no breeze the jacket was far too warm. As soon as I got up onto Blea Rigg the winds picked up and the temperature felt decidedly autumnal. The outer shell of the Kinesis provides great protection from the wind and unlike other jackets I have with similar active insulation this one does a good job when you’re resting. Most of the other jackets have huge areas of different materials to increase breathability which is great in warmer conditions and when during activities but as soon as you stop or the wind picks up they struggle to actually insulate. This is what impressed me about the Kinesis.
The Octoyarn Warp-Knit has a soft feel, much like a basic open face fleece fabric, but it is actually highly technical. The many fibre ends stem from a single strand which allows them to pick up moisture and wick it away from the body. It does this really well and I’ve been really pleased with the performance on every occasion particularly in terms of wicking and breathability. I’ve found that synthetic baselayers work best under it as it wicks amazingly well but can’t work miracles so a heavyweight merino baselayer isn’t going dry out that quickly, especially when compared a good synthetic. The Octoyarn is not as soft and comfortable as Polartec Alpha but I can handle this since it works so well. That’s not to say it is uncomfortable, it’s fine, but if you’re looking to prioritise comfort and feel over performance then consider other jackets.
In terms of the design, I love the slanted zip and feel that it is genuinely beneficial rather than simply for looks. Not having the zip under your chin increases comfort and zipping it feels more natural and easier to do than you’d expect. I know looks wise this is a definite ‘marmite’ piece as it has divided the office here but I’m firmly in the love-it camp with this. There are two decent sized hand pockets which could possibly benefit from some insulation but at least they keep the wind out. The small chest pocket is pretty useful for using something like an UltraMap. The inner insulation is an interesting design and as mentioned, it works really well. However, wearing it over a fleece is like wearing a Velcro layer. They two face fabrics stick together amazingly and you feel like either the jacket or you will end up getting turned inside out when you try and remove it.
Overall, I have found this has replaced a few other jackets/tops with active insulation in them for colder conditions. Certainly this has become my go-to jacket on cold, windy days in the mountains. I have total trust that it will work when I need it most, when I’m most active and working hard going up. It then dries out quickly when I’m in cold, exposed areas that I need the insulation part to kick in and keep me warm. I thought this jacket was going to be a bit of a gamble compared to my Alpha lined kit but it has exceeded my expectations and has become a tried and trusted piece of kit.