The Rapha Packable is a well made, good-looking, high-performance waterproof jacket that can be used on or off the bike.
When I received this jacket, the unthinkable happened: it was simply not raining in the UK. As two weeks went by with no rain I was starting to think that I would need to just put my turbo in the shower and see how it held up. Luckily, Glastonbury happened and of course, so did the rain. You've never seen a cyclist so happy to wake up on a Monday morning and see the clouds open.
As a waterproof jacket, it performs excellently, with water literally beading off it as you ride. I used it on a truly horrendous day (the British weather was presaging the recent Dusseldorf Tour de France Grand Depart) and it was amazing to see how well this jacket sheds water. Duck's back and all that. The Packable uses the same material that Rapha use in their Core Rain Jacket, and it seems to work just as well. Rapha have only claimed that it's a showerproof fabric, but I rode in the pouring rain with this on for at least an hour and it kept everything out. It also has fully taped seams and a nice high collar which certainly helps on this front.
The breathability of the Packable jacket is also strong and I was very impressed with how it performed despite using it in very wet and warm conditions. At one point it was certainly too warm to wear the jacket, but even then I didn't get the 'boil-in-a-bag' feeling that often happens with waterproofs.
The fit is fairly relaxed, to the extent that I used it as a jacket off the bike too and didn't feel like it looked strange. It has a slightly elongated back, but not to the extent that it's obviously a cycling jacket.
One thing worth noting is that it was a little tight around my shoulders when in the drops. I have wide shoulders for my height, but if you want to avoid this it may be worth sizing up or at least trying before you buy.
The jacket has some nice design features too, with easily hidden high viz elements such as cuff straps that can be hidden and a high viz collar that is simple to tuck away. It also has a strong, thick zip with a wind barrier behind. Rapha have included soft elasticated cuffs to both keep your wrists away from the irritation of the sleeve hems and also keeps out the water. In addition to these, it has two front pockets. That's something that you don't often see on cycling specific jackets, but is especially useful for a city jacket like this. There is even reinforcement around the hanging loop to stop the jacket losing its shape when hanging.
Much of the jacket's design lends itself perfectly to city riding and inside the signature quote is clearly about exactly that. I would be more than happy to walk into a pub wearing this jacket, which shows how versatile it is.
One of the selling points of the jacket is that it's packable and 'storable for emergencies'. It just about fits into a rear jersey pocket, but compared to others I have tried from companies like Chapeau! and Giro, it doesn't pack down nearly as small. However, given its city-specific design, this isn't much of an issue at all as it easily fits into most bags without taking up too much room.
RRP of the Rapha Packable is £160, which is expensive, but as we have come to expect from Rapha, you get what you pay for and the quality of construction and design goes some way to justifying this price tag.
Overall I was really impressed with the Rapha Packable. It is well designed for use both on and off the bike, it keeps out the elements and is has some strong features. Breathability is really impressive and it was great to watch the water bead off it in even the most torrential downpours.
Well made, strong performing jacket, which works as well around the town as on a long ride
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha Packable Waterproof Jacket
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the jacket 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?
A lightweight packable waterproof jacket for city riding.
Rapha say: "A three-layer jacket that will always be on hand when the weather turns and is light enough to pack away discreetly, making the Packable Waterproof Jacket ideal for emergency deployment."
This seems like an apt description of how the jacket performs, packs away and easy to deploy.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Packable, so it's always on hand for when the weather turns
Lightweight nylon fabric used in the Core rain jacket provides breathable protection
Reflective details enhance visibility to other road users
Full Aquaguard waterproof zip to front and pockets keeps valuables secure and protected
Zip garage to neck prevents rubbing
Elasticated cuffs keep sleeves in place and the weather out
Grip hem holds jacket in position while on the bike
Ripstop fabric to enhance the life of the garment
Very well made, all seams are taped, well thought-through design to make it work on and off the bike.
Very waterproof, very breathable. What else do you want from a jacket?
Ripstop material used so it is likely to last a long time.
Rapha claim that the material used is shower proof, but the reality is that I used this in torrential rain and it kept everything out without an issue.
Breathability of the jacket was excellent, and despite riding in wet and warm conditions I never found the boil-in-a-bag issues that sometimes arise with waterproofs.
Fitted in a more casual way than other Rapha gear, but still relatively close fitting. Was a little tight around the shoulders and under arms when in the drops, so may be worth trying before you buy or sizing up.
The medium fitted well, although again, if you have wide shoulders it may be an idea to size up.
Not as lightweight as other packable jackets I've used, but not heavy enough to really weigh you down.
Nice features such as soft elasticated wrists and soft collar are a nice touch.
It is expensive, but then you get what you pay for in terms of performance, so about where I would expect it to be.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Yes, put it through a gentle wash as per the instructions with no issue at all.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It performed well, although it performed even better as a commuter jacket or something to wear when riding in the city.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
The design features like the hideable cuffs and collar are a real plus
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
It's not as packable as others I have used, but given that it's predominantly for city riding, good enough for packing in a bag.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes
Would you consider buying the jacket? Ye
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? yes
Use this box to explain your score
A strong performing jacket that kept the wind and rain out without keeping excess heat and moisture in. It doesn't pack down as small as others I have used, but does still fit into a jersey pocket without too much issue and easily fits into a regular commuting bag.
About the tester
I usually ride: Mercian King of Mercia or Cinelli Gazzetta My best bike is: Cannondale Supersix Evo
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
George spends his days flitting between writing about data, running business magazines and writing about sports technology. The latter gave him the impetus (excuse) to get even further into the cycling world before taking the dive and starting his own cycling sites and writing for Road.cc.
When he is not writing about cycling, he is either out on his bike cursing not living in the countryside or boring anybody who will listen about the latest pro peloton/cycling tech/cycling infrastructure projects.