With a name like Kinetic, you gotta know this jacket is built for moving and moving fast. And so it is, from its fabric to its design. You just want to get moving from the moment you put it on. In fact, even if you aren't moving, you just feel fast.
The jacket has ultra lightweight and very stretchable Polartec Power Shield on the front for increased wind and weather resistance (You know, fast-forward motion means more hitting from the front). An effective DWR coating helps the jacket shed light snow and misting rain or drizzle efficiently. The shoulder panels are breathable, moisture-wicking Polartec Power Stretch and add increased stretch to the jacket, though they also are less moisture resistant than the Power Shield.
The zip-off sleeves -- which at first raised skepticism from part of our testing team -- are honestly very functional, creating a jacket that becomes a bit of a chameleon -- adaptable to a wide variety of temperatures and weather conditions and allowing you to change it from jacket to vest and back on the fly. You can even half unzip the sleeves for more venting. If there is one weakness, it is that once the sleeves are zipped off, you have to think too much about which sleeve goes where when re-attaching -- not something you want be fussing with in the middle of an aerobic frolic or even when putting away a stack of laundry. We'd recommend GoLite opt for color-coded zippers in the future (even a slight difference such as shades of gray or blue) so putting the jacket back together becomes mindless.
We tested the Kinetic soft shell jacket in weather extremes ranging from -5 degrees Fahrenheit and sunny to 50 degrees and damp, and the jacket performed admirably. Granted, our tester at -5 degrees was Nordic skiing at a very high aerobic level, but he said he'd never worn a jacket that is better suited than the Kinetic for Nordic skiing: "The Kinetic provided tremendous freedom of movement, adequate wind protection, high breathability, and superior athletic fit. It kept me feeling warm and comfortable during several half-day ski tours where the temperatures never climbed above zero degrees."
Another tester took to trail running in temperatures ranging from about 20-25 degrees Fahrenheit to as high as 45-50, trying the jacket in cold and sunny as well as damp and drizzly conditions at those temperatures. Not only did it fit sleekly and not interfere with technical trail running, but it kept the tester comfy and protected. She was one terribly happy camper, aka trail runner: "This is now my utterly favorite jacket. Even as someone susceptible to the cold, I was not cold, likely because it breathed so well and didn't leave me damp and sweaty."
Testers did find that the upper temperature limit for the jacket, depending on your personal vulnerability to cold and aerobic intensity, is somewhere around 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition, one tester missed having an extra pocket â€“ the jacket only has one side-zip chest pocket -- but that would be a trade-off since more pockets mean more bulk and weight. One suggestion, however, is to put a small key fob in the chest pocket so you don't worry about losing a key when fetching your lip balm.
All-in-all, the Kinetic jacket offers an exceptional, ergonomic fit and is ideally designed for cold to cool weather aerobic sports like trail running, snowshoeing, or Nordic skiing.
SNEWS Rating: 4.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: $199
For more information:www.golite.com