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Rapha Winter Jersey

9
£160.00

VERDICT:

9
10
Warm, comfortable and well made merino-charged jersey for all but the coldest winter rides
Weight: 
512g
Contact: 

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Rapha's Winter Jersey is a really warm and comfortable option for wearing when the temperature dips into single digits.

It's just on the jersey side of being a jacket. Does that even make sense? You know what I mean though, right? The main fabric is a mix of polyester (69%) and merino wool (27%) with a bit of elastane thrown in, and it's pretty heavyweight stuff that certainly feels very woolish.

The front and shoulder panels are lined with a windproof fabric. Well, Rapha call it windproof although I'd say that it's actually wind resistant because a small amount of air can get through, and it's pretty breathable. There's no windproofing or wind resisting on the sleeves like you get with many winter jerseys, though, so the effect is a lot like wearing a gilet over a standard jersey, keeping the cold air of your chest while allowing plenty of breathability around the back.

A high, snug fitting collar stops the breeze nipping in there, you get a baffle behind the front zip, and you can pull the waist in tight with an adjustable drawcord, so you don't have a gap like there is in our picture. The result is that you can stay pretty damn toasty when the temperature is well down into single figures; warmer than in most other jerseys out there. Personally, I'd be reaching for something with windproofing throughout at about 5°C, but many people will be perfectly happy in this well below that point.

My only real reservation is in damp, misty weather when the thick, woolly fabric holds more moisture and gets heavier than synthetic alternatives.

If you start to overheat in there, you can open the front zip, of course, and also the long, zipped vents that sit on either side of the chest. You'll be surprised at just how effective they are at cooling you down without adding any annoying flapping.

Speaking of flappage, I found the cut to be slim but far from constrictive. There's plenty of stretch, even a bit in those wind resistant front panels, so you'll still get a good fit even if you're carrying a bit of winter weight or even if you want to double up on base layers in really cold weather. The front is cut shorter than the back to minimise rucking and the arms are a good length.

Rather than yer usual three regulation cargo pockets in the lower back with optional fourth zipped valuables pocket, you get two larger cargo pockets (one slightly bigger than the other), a zipped valuables pocket, and a zipped ballast pocket. Yep, a zipped ballast pocket – a large pocket with an opening higher up than the others.

You might find it useful to have larger than normal pockets to take something like a winter-sized waterproof jacket, but I must say that having the contents of that ballast pocket sit behind the two large cargo pockets doesn't do anything for me. If you use all three, things get really bulky back there. Good luck to Rapha striking out on their own here, but I'm not feeling the benefit of this arrangement. That said, if you do use the ballast pocket, the O-ring puller is super-easy to grab on the fly.

There aren't too many other features to list although the armband that looks grey in normal light shines out when caught in car headlights, and there's a small tab at the bottom of the pockets that's made of the same reflective material.

All in all, this is a warm, well-made and very comfortable jersey for cold – but not quite the coldest – days. It's heavy duty by jersey standards, it's well fitted and it feels good on. If this blue version isn't to your taste, it's also available in purple and black.

Verdict

Warm, comfortable and well made merino-charged jersey for all but the coldest winter rides

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Rapha Winter Jersey

Size tested: Medium - Teal

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Here's Rapha's description:

Robust jersey for tough winter cycling

Now with an improved front windproof lining which is a stretch-fabric for greater comfort and breathability.

Designed for cold to freezing conditions, the Rapha Winter Jersey offers a brilliant balance of insulation, windproofing and breathability.

Features include a large storage capacity and reflective details for visibility when winter road cycling. Made from a heavy weight, merino-rich fabric the jersey has zipped vents below the arms enabling temperature regulation, and the back panel has a soft mesh behind the pockets for added moisture transfer. Above the cargo compartments is a horizontal ballast pocket, featuring an O-ring puller on the zip for ease of use. The jersey also has a discreet, zipped valuables pocket.

Key features:

* Highly breathable insulation

* Windproof chest panels

* Zipped vents

* Full length zip with lockdown puller

* Large rear-pocket capacity

* Reflective armband

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

The Rapha Winter Jersey is made from Sportwool

27% merino wool

69% polyester

4% elastane

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
 
9/10
Rate the product for value:
 
7/10

It's definitely at the top end, but it's not the most expensive winter jersey you buy - that accolade (as far as we can tell) belongs to Assos. So the price isn't out of line for what you'd expect to pay and it will undoubtedly last for years.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

It does its job really, really well. It's warmer than most other jerseys thanks to the thickness of the fabric, the wool content, and the windproof front/shoulder panels.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The warmth and the style.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The pocket configuration didn't do it for me although, equally, you might love it. That's a matter of personal taste.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? It's a crowded market but I'd certainly consider it

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?

This really is an exceptionally good jersey, a cut above most others. At £160, you'd expect it to be. That's a lot of money but it might be a winter staple of your cycling wardrobe for several years if you treat it right.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 43  Height: 190cm  Weight: 75kg

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,

 

Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.

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