Rab Cinder Kinetic Waterproof Jacket review – a new favorite all-purpose, all-weather MTB shell

Best selling outdoors tech meets bike specific design in Rab’s versatile, highly breathable Cinder Kinetic jacket

Rab Cinder Kinetic Waterproof Jacket has excellent breathability
(Image: © Guy Kesteven)

Bike Perfect Verdict

Excellent breathability plus smart cut and features in a soft feel, ‘waterproof enough’, eco angelic stretch fabric make the Rab Cinder Kinetic my new favorite all-purpose, all-weather shell.

Pros

  • +

    Excellent ‘wear all day’ breathability

  • +

    Soft feel and stretch mobility with decent waterproofing

  • +

    Great all-rounder fit including secure over helmet hood

  • +

    Fully recycled and PFC free

  • +

    Rab reputation and repair service

Cons

  • -

    You’ll still get damp if you’re going flat out

  • -

    Limited reflectivity and no bright color for men

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Rab has translated the impressively breathable, waterproof performance of their best-selling Kinetic outdoors range into a rider-ready jacket to create one of the best waterproof jackets we’ve used. Particularly if you’re into longer 'whatever the weather’ gravel, bikepacking, or MTB adventures.

Rab Cinder Kinetic rear view

Stretch fabric and clever shoulder/arm cut mean excellent mobility and riding comfort (Image credit: GuyKesTV)

Design

The jacket primarily uses Rab’s proven 20 D Proflex fabric. This is 100% recycled polyester with a stretch-knit outer face and a very stretchy PU membrane. The fabric is also treated with a completely PFC-free DWR (Durable Water Repellency) layer to keep rain from sinking into the fabric.

Rab made a conscious decision to carry over their standardized sizing into the Cinder bike range, because they knew a lot of riders already used their outdoor gear anyway. They reworked the fit to lengthen the back and pre-articulate the arms to keep movement easy in a more stretched-out position. The hem also gets a silicon gripper and single-sided adjuster cord to stop it from riding up. The sleeves are extended with a slight back-of-hand scoop and stretch binding for a snug glove fit. Rab has also shaped the hood to fit over a helmet with a single pull volume reducer that closes it down around your lid and also acts as an anchor loop when the hood is rolled up for stowage. A built-in peak adds weather protection if you’ve not already got a visor on your helmet.

The YKK Vislon main zip is full length with a fleece-lined chin guard and cord puller to work easily with gloves or cold fingers. A particularly neat detail is how it’s profiled to tuck inwards not outwards so you don’t end up with a lumpy frontage. There’s a big phone-sized chest pocket and a centrally placed, expandable back pocket too, both have YKK AquaGuard zips to keep their contents dry. 

Rab Cinder Kinetic hood shot

It's all good in the hood with Rab's over the helmet protection (Image credit: GuyKesTV)

Performance

If you look at the fabric stats of the Proflex fabric the 10,000 mm hydrostatic head rating is average for the bike waterproof world (Rab themselves give it a three out of five proof rating). Despite the whole jacket and any treatments being totally PFC-free the DWR coating not only keeps beading water for longer than most but it’s still doing that after a couple of months of regular use. Rab reckons it’ll last around a dozen wash cycles in a typical usage/storage environment before it needs reproofing too. Out in the wild that means it’s taken proper lashing rain in its stride for over an hour (weirdly we’ve not consistently hard rain for longer than that on test days) or mixed levels of drizzle and harder showers all day without showing any signs of wet getting through. 

Windproofing is excellent too and it dries quickly so you won’t get cold from faster windchill or heat loss through soggy fabric. As the whole jacket is the same fabric you won’t get cold/wet spots across your back or belly like you can with hybrid jackets. The over-helmet hood adds a disproportionate amount of comfort and warmth in really grim conditions too but tucks away easily when not needed.

Where the Cinder Kinetic really impresses is its breathability and feel. A 35000g/m2/24 hrs MVTR (Moisture Vapour Transmission Rate) means most riders sticking to a steady day ride pace won’t get wet from within either. In fact, I only got noticeably wet across my back (the downside of it not being a hybrid design) and lower sleeves when working ‘power hour’ or ‘racing climb’ hard. Even then the inherent breathability and softer inside face meant I wasn’t damp and chilly for long before under layers could dry out. The lack of zipped vents (which you get on Rab’s Cinder trousers) means there’s no mechanical moisture management but that helps keep cost, weight, and pack size down. Rab’s senior Cinder designer Dan Bruce also hinted at a more vented option being added soon when I talked to him researching their range. The front zip opens easily even when dirty and the pockets stay stable even when loaded and I’m getting busy out of the saddle.

Despite working like a high-performance hardshell the stretch knit fabric feels more like a soft shell, with a natural rather than synthetic handle and low noise as well. Sizing is what I’d describe as close casual, so it doesn’t flap or billow obviously on the bike but it doesn’t look weirdly tight if you wear it to walk the dog or wander into town when bikepacking. Rab produces a full range of women’s Cinder clothing including a subtly femme-fitted Kinetic jacket and there are waterproof trousers and shorts to match too.

The only potential gripe is the lack of reflective trim or bright color options for men (women get an orange 'marmalade' for use in traffic but this is primarily an off-road coat and the earthy tones will be welcome when you’re wild camping.

Rab Cinder Kinetic back pocket

The Cinder Kinetic's back pocket is expandable and protected from back wheel filth with a weatherproof zip (Image credit: GuyKesTV)

Verdict

While it’s not been a particularly cold winter in the UK, it seems like we’ve had a lot of rain, which means I’ve been wearing the Kinetic a lot. First, because it needed testing but then because it became my favorite shell jacket for everything from mountain biking to going to the shops. 

Draught-free cut, tall collar hood, and impressively long-lived surface beading amp up the average waterproofing performance of the fabric. Pocket placement, stability, and well-judged on and off-bike sizing and styling give it versatility and in turn better value. Rab’s excellent repair service will be welcome if you wipe out too. But most importantly it breathes well enough to make it useable in a much wider range of conditions - and work rates - than most waterproof jackets while still being light and packable enough to be a layering piece, not an all-or-nothing choice.

Rab Cinder Kinetic front pocket

The chest pocket is well placed for a phone, snacks, or pretending you are an emperor without it drooping onto your knees (Image credit: GuyKesTV)

Tech specs: Rab Cinder Kinetic Waterproof Jacket

  • Price: $255 / £220 / €250
  • Sizes: XS-XL Male, 8-16 Female
  • Options: Beluga black, Beluga black and khaki (tested) and Orion blue 
  • Weight: 325g (medium) 
Guy Kesteven
Technical-Editor-at-Large

Guy has been working on Bike Perfect since launch in 2019. He started writing and testing for bike mags in 1996. Since then he’s written several million words about several thousand test bikes and a ridiculous amount of riding gear. To make sure he rarely sleeps and to fund his custom tandem habit, he’s also penned a handful of bike-related books and talks to a GoPro for YouTube, too.

Current rides: Cervelo ZFS-5, Specialized Chisel, custom Nicolai enduro tandem, Landescape/Swallow custom gravel tandem

Height: 180cm

Weight: 69kg