Rab Kinetic Ultra Waterproof Jacket Review – iRunFar

For this review, I tested the Rab Kinetic Ultra Waterproof Jacket ($200).

Before wading down the rabbit hole of rainwear, I had this deliciously naive idea that a perfect rain jacket could exist. I regularly checked with other gear reviewers to see if they had captured the unicorn.

Surely someone had fine-tuned the relationship between breathability and waterproofness in a way that kept us all from suffocating while protecting us from varying degrees of precipitation.

Well, it turns out there’s no perfect jacket for all conditions. The best rain jacket for particularly rainy climates will be different from the best rain jacket for more temperate regions. And the best rain jacket for those of us with warm body temperatures will be different from the best for those who are cold. The good news is that there are plenty of great options out there, including the Rab Kinetic Ultra Waterproof Jacket.

Shop Rab Kinetic Ultra Women’s Waterproof JacketShop the Rab Kinetic Ultra Waterproof Jacket for Men

Rab Kinetic Ultra Waterproof Jacket Fabric and Features

I had the pleasure of testing the Rab Kinetic Ultra Waterproof Jacket. For what this jacket offers, the price seems fair and average. This piece is made with a Proflex three-layer recycled polyester stretch knit and a polyurethane membrane. The jacket weighs an advertised weight of 8.9 ounces (254 grams) for a female medium and 9.7 ounces (277 grams) for a male medium.

A front view of the Rab Kinetic Ultra Waterproof Jacket on a stormy mountain peak. All photos: Annie Behrend

Three-layer fabrics feature a durable water-repellent (DWR) treated outer shell, a waterproof material in the middle and a thinner inner fabric. The main purpose of the thin inner membrane is to protect the pores of the waterproof layer from clogging by sweat, dirt or oils from our skin. The treated outer fabric protects against rain and helps maintain optimal breathability.

Rainwear with a 2.5 layer construction is similar, although the internal dirt protection can be simply painted on – hence its recognition as a half layer. A 2.5 layer jacket may be slightly lighter but require more frequent cleaning and may not be as durable as the three layer counterpart.

Per the care instructions on the garment, I threw this jacket in the washing machine after most runs (low heat drying is fine) and haven’t noticed a drop in performance yet.

Although I’m notoriously a solid size medium (UK size 12) in most women’s clothing and other Rab items, the size small (UK size 10) I tested in this jacket fit remarkably well. I am 5ft 7in and weigh around 135 lbs. It is snug while still providing enough room for a full range of motion.

Rab Kinetic Ultra Waterproof Jacket - Back View

A rear view of the Rab Kinetic Ultra Waterproof Jacket on a stormy mountain peak.

The pleasantly soft and stretchy result of these well thought-out layers is a simple jacket with the following details:

  • A square zipped pocket on the left sleeve
  • A fitted cap-style hood that can be easily rolled up and stored in the jacket collar
  • Rear hood vent for airflow
  • Two ventilation holes on the back for air circulation; overlapping vents maintain protection against precipitation
  • Extended cuffs with stretch trim to keep your hands protected and warm

Rab Kinetic Ultra Waterproof Jacket Waterproofing and Breathability

Waterproof and breathability ratings are useful to consider when choosing the best rain jacket for you, given your running environment. Generally speaking, the higher the waterproof rating, the lower the breathability and the heavier the jacket.

Many trail runners wear jackets with a lower level of waterproofness and a higher level of breathability for several reasons. First, this combination usually results in a lighter jacket. Second, you are less likely to overheat while running if the breathability is high and the waterproofness is low, as this type of jacket allows your own moisture and heat to escape, while letting some moisture in and fresh air.

Having also tested and reviewed the Rab Men’s Phantom Raincoat Pullover here on iRunFar, I was surprised to see the Rab Kinetic Ultra Waterproof Jacket described as comparatively less waterproof, as this was not my experience. The Phantom is an incredibly light jacket that I would take for protection from cold wind and very light rain. But, like most ultralight jackets, the Phantom will end up wrapping tightly around your arms if subjected to anything other than light rain for an extended period of time.

The Kinetic Ultra waterproofing lasts considerably longer before getting wet. Before discussing waterproof ratings in more detail, I mention this comparison to illustrate how the rating system is still far from a perfect science, even within the same brand with different products.

Rab Kinetic Ultra Waterproof Jacket - Daylight - Front View

A front view of the Rab Kinetic Ultra Waterproof Jacket.


The UTMB race requires runners to wear a hooded jacket with a minimum waterproof rating of 10,000 Schmerber units. The Schmerber unit is a measure of the impermeability of a textile, i.e. the amount of wind or water that can pass through; this is measured in millimeters (mm), and the most waterproof ducts are rated up to 30,000mm. Rab sealing ratings are defined in terms of hydrostatic heads (HH), a measurement more commonly used in the UK, which correlates directly to Schmerber units.

Rated at 10,000 HH/mm, the Rab Kinetic Ultra Waterproof Jacket would meet the UTMB’s minimum specifications for waterproofing. Gore-Tex, in comparison, except for the new Gore-tex Infinium technology, is considered to be around 28,000 mm/HH.

Using the UTMB requirements as a gauge, I agree that the Kinetic Ultra is a good example of a more minimalist jacket that I would feel comfortable taking up the mountain for long days. If worn on a cool, windy and rainy to moderate day, this jacket works perfectly. However, if you find yourself in a more aggressive downpour, the jacket will get wet.

A previous iRunFar review of the Ultimate Direction Ultra Jacket V2 paints an entertaining and relatable picture of the circumstances that warrant higher tightness. If you’re looking for a jacket that will protect you from potentially extreme elements, keep browsing. If your climate and internal thermostat resonates with mine, keep reading!


From a breathability standpoint, the Rab Kinetic Ultra Waterproof Jacket really shines.

First, let’s go back, the breathability of a fabric is called its water vapor transmission rate (MVTR) and it is measured in grams per square meter per day (gm/m2/24hrs). With a water vapor transmission rate of 35,000 g/m2/24 hours, this jacket is considered highly breathable.

If you are familiar with the Rab Men’s Phantom Waterproof Overhead Jacket rated at 20,000 gsm/24 hours or a similar jacket like Patagonia Houdiniyou can expect more breathability from the Kinetic Ultra.

I tend to run relatively warm, so I’ve had trouble running in less breathable jackets without overheating when the temperature is warm enough to create rain versus snow. Rainfall protection doesn’t matter when you’ve sweated enough under a jacket to also be saturated.

Even in a jacket as breathable as the Kinetic Ultra, I’m still battling the heat climbing a few thousand feet in the rain. When it does, I usually strap it around my waist until I reach the top, and put it on to keep myself from getting too cold on the descent and the rest of my run. .

Rab Kinetic Ultra Waterproof Jacket - Daylight - Back View

A rear view of the Rab Kinetic Ultra Waterproof Jacket.

General impressions of the Rab Kinetic Ultra Waterproof Jacket

In my Oregon climate, if you got a jacket like the Rab Kinetic Ultra Waterproof Jacket with very good breathability and reasonably effective waterproofing, it’s the perfect suit for the majority of wet weather forecasts. If I was heading into more aggressive rain, especially for a long duration and/or at a higher elevation, I would definitely consider getting a more waterproof jacket.

You could say that for average waterproofing, this jacket is heavy. While I often find myself being stingy carrying more drinking water than I think I need, I can’t say the jacket’s 8.9 ounces were particularly bulky or kept me from wearing it. or pack it day to day. short.

My only other constructive criticism would be that it could use another zippered pocket or two. At the risk of sounding greedy, would it be great if even moderately waterproof jackets had fully waterproof pockets?

A rain forecast can be so obscure. I will probably always find it easier to dress for extreme temperatures than for rain. Maybe a more sophisticated weather app would help clear up some gray areas, but when the forecast says 100% chance of rain, I still don’t really know what that means. Are we talking about a 100% chance of a little rain or a 100% chance of heavy rain?

The morning I had the privilege of testing the Kinetic Ultra’s resistance to a torrential downpour, I remember my friend yelling over the sounds of thunder and downpour, “ANNIE, I THINK IT’S AT 100%!” Past experience of suffocating under less breathable jackets meant that deluge days were the only days I took rain gear.

As a waterproofing product with exceptional breathability, wind protection and stretch, the Rab Kinetic Ultra Waterproof Jacket is an easy choice that results in far less sweat and sees far more miles on the trail.

Shop Rab Kinetic Ultra Women’s Waterproof JacketShop the Rab Kinetic Ultra Waterproof Jacket for Men

Call for comments

  • Have you ever tried the Rab Kinetic Ultra Waterproof Jacket? If yes, what do you think?
  • Are you using another rain jacket that gives you the right amount of waterproofing and breathability for your applications?

[Editor’s Note: If you’re affiliated (i.e., an employee, ambassador, etc.) with a shoe brand, please share your relation in each of your comments on this article. Thanks!]

Rab Kinetic Ultra Waterproof Jacket - Daylight - Side View

A side view of the Rab Kinetic Ultra Waterproof Jacket.