I don’t know why, but when I write about Rapha, I always feel the need to have a disclaimer. Around me, it’s only available online, which I don’t like. I know it evokes strong feelings in people. I know it is expensive. I know some really don’t like it.
It’s fantastic stuff. I have to say, I don’t have a single piece of Rapha kit that has been a bad investment. It lasts, it fits, it is functional, it looks fantastic.
Today, we’re talking about the Rapha Wind Jacket.
It’s a lightweight, packable jacket. According to Rapha, the fabric is a lightweight, breathable stretch fabric with a windproof coating and water repellent treatment. I’ve found all of those descriptions to be accurate.
It is pleasingly stretchable, and even with a trim fit, the stretch adds a great deal of comfort.
It is 100% windproof–and impressively so because the fabric is incredibly thin.
I have worn it in actual rain (not downpours, but actual rain) and have found it to be far more water-resistant than I had any right to expect. That was one of those “caught too far from home” moments. Because the Wind jacket is so light and packable, it’s easy to throw in a jersey pocket and have it with for just such an occasion. It has nice cuffs that keep it stable on your arms (even in high winds), or that allow you to push the sleeves up and have it stay in place without flopping down on you.
We don’t have cold descents here in Illinois…but what I’ve found this jacket to be great for is either variable weather or mild weather.
A few weeks ago, I did a GM training ride where the temps started at 25 and then warmed up to 48. I threw this jacket in my frame bag, and when the temp warmed up, I dropped a heavy layer and put on this jacket. It was perfect for the more temperate part of the spectrum.
Similarly, yesterday I slapped this jacket on in the morning, when the temps were around 40, and rode with it until the temps were about 58, whereupon I took it off and rode just in my jersey. As the day progressed and warmed up, I unzipped progressively. At the coldest part of the day, this jacket, fully zipped, was windproof and kept me warm. As the day warmed up, the unzipping added more ventilation until it was warm enough out to drop a layer. An added bonus is that the forecast was calling for rain yesterday, so if it rained, I would have been ready for it.
Asymmetric zipper–a nice feature as it keeps the zipper away from your neck.
You can also see the small pocket there; that is the only pocket, and is nicely sized for a cellphone or a wallet (not both).
Waterproof, windproof zipper:
The zipper features a nice ‘inner liner’ at the top, so it doesn’t irritate your skin when fully zipped.
You can see the lightweight, stretchable nature of the fabric here:
Awkward picture time, but this is intended to show that it has an aggressive cut; long enough to cover your butt in the rear, but short enough to not interfere with an aggressive riding picture in front.
The new colors for 2015 look pretty awesome. I’m very happy with this jacket thus far. It’s one of those pieces that is there when you need it–and it is there because it is so lightweight and packable that it’s easy to throw in and bring with.
If I have a criticism for Rapha, it is that their stuff is too pretty. I wear it for road, gravel, path, etc. I would never think of wearing it for mountain biking or fat biking (unless riding on the road). I can’t imagine putting this through the abuse that some of my older Gore stuff sees…and I’d be pretty heartbroken if I punched a hole in one of these pieces with an errant thorn or stick. Because it is such a premium product, I treat it with caution…and it rewards me with excellent performance.