Rab have pulled off a thoroughly impressive trick of creating a hardshell that really does feel like a softshell. Lightweight and supple, it’s one of the most comfortable ski jackets I’ve ever worn. Its thin fabric and trim fit means there isn’t a lot of room for layers so it isn’t the best choice of jacket for the depths of winter. The Rab Khroma Kinetic is set to become my go-to jacket for spring skiing and year-round hiking, however.
Exceptionally light and breathable
Not much warmth
No snow skirt
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Rab Khroma Kinetic ski jacket: first impressions
The Rab Khroma Kinetic claims to combine the weatherproof features of a hardshell with the soft feel and ease of movement of a softshell. Trying on the jacket for the first time I was amazed at how supple the fabric was. It moves easily and doesn’t make crinkly noises like most waterproof ski jackets do. It’s also very comfortable even with just a T-shirt on underneath. And they’re not the only reasons it’s one of the best men’s ski jackets currently available.
• List price: $350 (US) / £320 (UK)
• Waterproofing: Proflex 20,000/25,000
• Insulation: None
• Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL
• Colors: Army / Marmalade / Orion Blue
• Compatibility: Backcountry, touring, cross country, spring skiing, hiking
Oversized Napoleon chest pockets offer plenty of storage and – cleverly – double up as vents. One of the chest pockets has a smaller zipped pocket inside for keys or a phone.
There’s no snow skirt but this is a minimalist jacket and I’m not sure it needs one. Fit-wise, it’s a good length, hanging to mid-hip level, and has a cut that’s trim yet easy to layer under – a good thing, as the Khroma Kinetic doesn’t offer much warmth on its own.
Figures of 20,000 and 25,000 for waterproofness and breathability are exceptional. In extended wet weather during early testing I found the water beaded and rolled off the jacket, thanks in part to its fluorocarbon-free DWR treatment. Even during strenuous exertion I never overheated or became sweaty. On the slopes, it promised to be perfect for warm weather or high-effort skiing.
But would the Rab Khroma Kinetic really stand up to the elements in the mountains? Only time would tell. Luckily, I’ve now been testing this jacket extensively over the course of four months, so I’m well placed to let you know.
Rab Khroma Kinetic ski jacket: on the slopes
Although I was originally dubious about how much protection such a light jacket could provide, the Khroma Kinetic quickly won me over. It’s highly breathable and doesn’t crinkle every time you move like some hardshells do. It also has excellent articulation – reach forward to plant a ski pole or upwards to pull down the safety bar on a chairlift and the jacket doesn’t restrict your movement at all.
There doesn’t seem to be much trade-off when it comes to protection from wind and rain either. I spent two weeks in the French Alps and on bluebird days the Rab Khroma Kinetic was the jacket I reached for. On the slopes, it’s a terrific lightweight ski jacket. Mine came in a nice burnt orange color called Marmalade, which made me easy to spot from a distance.
One sunny day I made the excursion from Les Menuires, at one end of Les Trois Vallées, all the way to the exclusive resort of Courchevel at the far side. It proved to be a fantastic jacket for fast skiing in sunny conditions. At speed none of the wind rushing around me penetrated the jacket, and its supple feel makes it really comfortable.
The only downside is the thin fabric doesn’t provide much warmth and there’s limited room for layers underneath. Coming back in late afternoon when the sun had dipped behind the mountains I did start to feel the chill.
There’s room underneath for a couple of fleeces but in really cold conditions the Khroma Kinetic struggles to fit an insulated jacket underneath without puffing out.
Off the slopes the Khroma Kinetic has become one of my go-to hiking jackets. The absence of a snow skirt means it can transition easily from ski resort to forest trails. Over the course of the winter, whenever my dog and I have gone for a hike the jacket has been on my back or in my rucksack. It squishes down nicely in the bottom of a rucksack, taking up hardly any room at all.
The hood is big enough to go over a ski helmet but easy to cinch down close to your head when you’re not wearing one. A wire brim means water is directed out in front of you and doesn’t run down your face.
Quite a few times the Scottish skies have done what they’re known for and dumped all their moisture on me. Even in a torrential downpour the jacket never let me down and has always kept me bone dry.
Jack McKeown is a Scottish journalist, hiker, skier, runner and beach volleyball player. Having walked many of Scotland’s long distance trails, last year saw him tackle his first ultramarathon. He lives in Dundee and in his spare time Jack and his golden retriever Bracken are often to be found exploring the mountains, forests, lochs and rivers of Highland Perthshire.