Rab has a great reputation for mountaineering, hill running (and recently ski-ing) kit and now they’ve created the Rab Cinder range to fight for a place in the best bikepacking clothing market. The Kinetic Waterproof pants take the brand's proven, high-performance Proflex fabrics and build them into really comfortable, weatherproof wear all-day leg wear.
The front of the Kinetic pants uses the same 20 D Proflex stretch knit face 3-layer, PU membraned 100 percent recycled polyester as the Rab Cinder Kinetic jacket. The back half uses a woven version of that fabric. The seat panel, rear thighs, and drive side hem get more rugged reinforcing panels, and the crotch seam is offset to reduce wear too. They’re fully coated with a PFC DWR (Durable Water Repellency) treatment and all the fabrics, zips, cords, etc are fluoro carbon free too.
Fabric stretch allows a much closer, tailored fit than most waterproof trousers. The raised, rounded back waist with a silicon grip print naturally sits high and secure but you can also adjust fit with a single-handed shock cord on the right, front side. There are two hand pockets with YKK AquaGuard zips and zipped thigh vents too. Double popper and zipped fly are handy for ’nature breaks’. Ankle zips make pulling them on / off easy without being tight on fat waterproof socks or looking weird off the bike. While all men's sizes come in regular or long lengths too, women’s sizes are all fixed lengths. You can get long Cinder Kinetic Waterproof shorts in both men's and women's fit for $185 / £150 / €180.
While fit is always a personal matter, Rab worked with as many different shapes and sizes of tester as possible. The mediums are perfect for me with a 31-inch waist that expands when I’m hyperventilating on hills. The soft fabric feel and stretch make them feel much more like a trail trouser than the rustling, stiff, clammy feel of most waterproof pants.
The highly breathable 35000g/m2/24 hrs MVTR (Moisture Vapour Transmission Rate) of the knitted front fabric and a 25000 MVTR rating for the woven back panels keep them sweat-free at cruising pace. The back panel fabric also gets a higher (20k versus 10k) hydrostatic head rating to reflect that most water is coming up from the back wheel when you’re riding. Whether it was the pressure of the saddle against the fabric or just because I sweated more I did still get a wet shorts pad and damp legs if I was working hard for long in persistent rain in the Kinetic’s. Then again that’s been the case with every pair of waterproof trousers I’ve ever tested apart from the far more expensive 7Mesh Thunderpants.
The leg vents also help regulate temperature and dry undershorts quickly if they do get damp. They also allow access to the leg pockets on cargo liner shorts (Rab tested other popular brands as well as their own to ensure they lined up. Just be careful not to forget there’s no mesh backing and accidentally drop your phone down your leg like I repeatedly did. Despite all the features they still look ‘civilian’ enough to wear off the bike if you’re bike packing or rambling.
While Rab doesn’t treat their legendary mountaineering reputation lightly, prior experience with waterproof pants (and waterproofs in general) made me deeply skeptical of their ‘game-changing ride all day’ claims for the Kinetic Pants. There are some high-energy/relentless river ride situations where you will end up with a wet backside.
Fit and extended wear comfort are outstanding for trousers that will keep you dry and warm in most wet conditions. That means I’ll happily head out in them just in case the weather turns bad later rather than saving them for storm-only use. That versatility and Rab’s excellent reputation for customer service (including repairs) make them better value than they might first appear and it’s good to know the planet isn’t unduly suffering at your expense.
Tech specs: Rab Cinder Kinetic Waterproof Pants
- Price: $225 / £190 / €220
- Sizes: XS-XL Male, 8-16 Female
- Options: Beluga black or Orion Blue (tested) in men, Beluga black only in female
- Weight: 300g (medium)