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Stretch Your Expectations With This Hardshell Hybrid: Rab Kinetic Alpine 2.0 Jacket Review

The Rab Kinetic Alpine 2.0 Rain Jacket is made to move with you, and it stretches as much as our favorite softshell jackets.
(Photo/Ian Atkinson)
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The winds were whipping high on the ridge, and cumulonimbus clouds were building — the perfect signals to throw on a layer. As I got knocked around by gusts deep in the Kofa Wilderness of Arizona, I tossed on my Rab Kinetic Alpine 2.0 Jacket and remained hyper-focused on not stumbling into one of the jumping cholla cacti that consumed the area, a battle I would eventually lose … multiple times. 

On one of these occasions, the uber-stretchable Kinetic Alpine 2.0 took the hit. The woven Proflex fabric was durable enough to keep me from being impaled. And, when I got back to the car, I was impressed not to be able to locate where those two dozen cholla spines had entered the jacket. Not to mention, I barely even broke a sweat while hiking uphill, thanks to its top-notch breathability.

Rain jackets come in a huge spectrum of better for this and better for that specialties, and for the times you need unimpeded mobility over all else — such as on my scrambling mission — the softshell-like Kinetic Alpine 2.0 from Rab is honed for the job. Over my month of testing in a stormy spring in the American Southwest, the Kinetic Alpine 2.0 proved itself to be a trustworthy companion.

In short: The Rab Kinetic Alpine 2.0 is a first-class rain jacket when it comes to comfort and performance. Its ability to be a waterproof layer with the feel and breathability of a stretchy softshell means it excels for high-output activities such as mountaineering, peak bagging, scrambling, and climbing when chilly winds or stormy weather could be a threat.

To see how the Rab Kinetic Alpine 2.0 Jacket compares to the most protective jackets on the market, check out GearJunkie’s Buyer’s Guide to the Best Rain Jackets.

Rab Kinetic Alpine 2.0 Jacket


  • Waterproof membrane Proprietary Proflex 3L
  • Waterproof rating 10,000 mm/24 hours
  • Breathability rating 35,000 g/m²
  • Pit zips No
  • Fit Regular
  • Weight 14.9 oz.


  • Impressively stretchy
  • Comfortable fit
  • Durable face fabric
  • Made with climbers and mountaineers in mind


  • No pit zips
  • Low waterproof rating
  • On the heavier side

Rab Kinetic Alpine 2.0 Jacket: Review

The high country of Colorado proved to be the perfect testing ground for this rain jacket; (photo/Ian Atkinson)

First Impressions

I was surprised at just how soft the fabric felt when I first pulled the Rab Kinetic Alpine 2.0 out of the box. Is this really a rain jacket? I thought, and later, I might actually enjoy wearing this. Normally, I find myself rocking ultralight thru-hiker style waterproof layers; they’re light and will keep you dry, but boy, do they feel like you’re wearing a trash bag. 

Boasting better-than-average breathability (and stretch-for-days flexibility), you won’t rush to take off the Kinetic Alpine as soon as the storm ends — this is a layer that I found you can rock for multiple hours.

This is an important consideration for those who might find themselves in the middle of climbing a multipitch route or engaging in a time-sensitive mountaineering objective. Or, simply a consideration for those who enjoy being comfortable on the trail like myself.

In the Field: Bigger Lungs

Rab nailed the breathability aspect with its proprietary Proflex three-layer fabric, clocking in at an impressive 35,000 g/m2 rating (most jackets come in at around 15-20K ratings). Over numerous outings in the Sedona area, I spent considerable time hiking uphill to scrambling objectives and found myself to only be lightly sweating. This is a far cry from what you’d typically expect with GORE-TEX hardshells like the Norrøna Falketind Paclite with its stuffier 15,000 g/m2 breathability ratings. 

I’m always dismayed to find pit zips missing in a waterproof shell. It’s really the only thing missing from the Kinetic Alpine 2.0. However, the breathability of the Proflex fabric really helps to quell this concern. The two-way front zipper also acts as a sort of front vent, allowing you to open up the front of the jacket and move some moisture.

The polyester knit face fabric coupled with a polyurethane membrane make the Kinetic Alpine jacket stretch like a softshell; (photo/Ian Atkinson)

Stretch Like a Softshell

Comfort is certainly not lacking on the Kinetic Alpine 2.0, which sports impressive mobility, superb stretch, and a fabric that feels and acts like a softshell. I often find myself reluctant to pull out my rain jacket due to its crinkly and clammy feel, which isn’t the most fun to move in, but the Kinetic Alpine 2.0 never gave me a second thought in this department. 

The superb stretch and mobility were true wins during my scrambling objectives recently, as I never found myself struggling to reach a crucial hold even with the Kinetic’s trim athletic fit compared to more traditional, baggier rain jackets. When it comes to adventures where you’re spending significant time moving your arms laterally and overhead, the stretchy polyurethane membrane of the Proflex fabric is a huge plus.

(Enough) Waterproofing

The ideal conditions for the Kinetic Alpine; (photo/Ian Atkinson)

Despite the Kinetic Alpine 2.0’s impressive breathability and comfort, you’ve got to pay the piper somewhere, and the jacket’s waterproof rating won’t be turning any heads. Unfortunately, 10,000 mm/24 hours is on the lower end of the waterproof spectrum, meaning I wouldn’t recommend it when the forecast calls for multi-hour downpours or heavy snow.

The Kinetic Alpine 2.0 will still excel in environments with the potential for light snow or afternoon monsoon showers in the alpine, making it an exceptional choice for summer objectives in less humid climates like Colorado, or for windy objectives where you need a bit more protection from the biting cold than a traditional wind jacket.

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Weight, Packability, and Durability

While the Kinetic Alpine 2.0 excels in breathability, comfort, and durability, the tradeoff is a bulkier and heavier package. Weighing in at 14.9 ounces for a men’s large, the Kinetic Alpine 2.0 is one of the heavier rain jackets on the market. So, it might not be the best choice for the ultralight-conscious thru-hiker like the sub-8-ounce Zpacks Vertice or Montbell Versalite jackets would be. 

Despite this, I was still able to fit the Kinetic into the rear zip pouch of an 8L running vest. If you make the Kinetic Alpine 2.0 your 2-in-1 wind and rain protection, you can certainly mitigate the weight by leaving behind an entire jacket.

In terms of durability, well, I still can’t find where those cholla needles entered the fabric. I have no doubt the Kinetic would give me many years of quality use. Stretch fabrics like this are much more amenable to being worn and beat on and certainly trump the uber-thin packable rain jackets for puncture resistance.

Still, it’s important to remember that stretch rain jackets often will need a more frequent reapplication of DWR finish. The mechanical motion of the face fabric moving wears out this coating faster, so keep up on your refreshes, and the jacket will stay steady when beading.

Finer Details: Zippers, Pocket, Hood

The YKK Aquaguard zippers on the Kinetic Alpine 2.0 are top-notch. The center front zip is an opposing two-way zipper, allowing for compatibility with a climbing harness and some mechanical ventilation when desired. 

Two exterior pockets allow for quick and easy snack storage or hand-warming capability, and a left chest interior zip pocket has enough room to fit larger phones, keys, or your ski pass for those nicer days at the resort. I genuinely appreciated the sizing of these pockets — not too big or too small.

I also had a wonderful experience with the adjustable hood that incorporates a stiffened and flexible polymer peak that works well with both the bulk of a climbing helmet and the minimalism of a baseball cap without flopping over into your line of sight.

Additionally, I was happy to find the chin guard to be at the perfect height, allowing some wind protection for the neck and lower part of the face without collecting condensation and obstructing breathing.

A comfy cockpit from which to pilot this alpine-ready shell; (photo/Ian Atkinson)

Still Room for Improvement

No rain jacket can nail the perfect everything, and the Kinetic Alpine 2.0 isn’t immune. As a shell that leans far into the stretch and breathability columns, it accomplishes its goals, but it will leave those wanting a stretchy movement piece that’s also deluge-proof wanting more.

The two adjustments I would make with the Kinetic Alpine 2.0 would be adding pit zips (and bump that breathability even higher), making the Proflex fabric a touch more waterproof. With the added mechanical ventilation, Rab could keep its excellent 35,000 g/m2 breathability rating while increasing the hydrostatic rating of the fabric to the 15,000mm/24-hour range.

Although, this might tip the price toward $350+ and make the jacket even heavier. As is tradition, balancing the opposing forces of breathability and waterproofness is always a struggle in the rain jacket arena.

Rab Kinetic Alpine 2.0 Jacket: Conclusion

No shell can do it all, but as a specialist protection piece for quick movement and mobility, the Kinetic Alpine 2.0 reigns; (photo/Ian Atkinson)

From rock scrambles in Arizona to snowy hikes in the Four Corners region of Colorado, the Rab Kinetic Alpine 2.0 did an excellent job of keeping me dry, appropriately warm, and comfortable.

Its superb stretch served me well when making some exposed moves on an oft-climbed summit as rain began to fall, and its durability shined when squeezing into and out of a chimney in Sedona that featured abrasive rock that would make most fabrics wince. 

The tradeoff is in overall weatherproofing — this is no storm bunker, but it’s only no slouch, either. Frozen precip, passing showers, or warm but wet conditions? The Kinetic Alpine has got you covered, and all without short-sheeting you in the mobility department.

Overall, the Rab Kinetic Alpine 2.0 is an excellent choice for the hiker, mountaineer, or climber looking for a 2-in-1 waterproof layer that feels and acts like a softshell. At $310 and almost a pound in weight, it isn’t the most affordable or lightest option on the market, but if you’re looking for exceptional comfort and stretch combined with durability, this jacket will keep you happy and singing its praises for years to come.

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