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Rapha continue to expand on their capsule women's range of products with the addition this season of a fully waterproof jacket. True to form, it's really not cheap, but it also displays all the attention to detail, high quality construction and innovative design that Rapha have become known for.
Intended to be a lightweight rain shell for road riders, this is designed with all those requirements in mind. The jacket is a sleek race fit, with a curved drop tail, it's made from a soft silky slightly stretchy waterproof fabric, it's got Rapha's trademark asymmetric zip, a zip garage to prevent chafing at the chin, snug collar, neat stretch cuffs, a single zipped rear pocket and reflective bits and pieces. There's also a drawstring at the hem, should you feel you need it.
In wear, it's a sleek fit, but not unduly tight, and a good length for most heights. The uber light fabric (this jacket is even lighter than the North Face Xenon I tested back in the summer) differs from most lightweight waterproof fabrics in a number of ways. For starters it doesn't rustle and crinkle annoyingly, and then there's the slight stretch, just enough to give a really good fit and for the jacket to stay put when you're riding. Most surprising of all, though, was the level of breathability. Even in the warmer conditions we had this autumn, it kept my body dry from the inside, whilst keeping the rain out effectively as well. The interior PU face fabric is pleasant to wear, even next to skin for warmer conditions, and the unfaced side panels are a nice touch, allowing for increased breathability where you're not really needing it to be fully waterproof anyway. The seams at the shoulder area and upper arms are taped to keep the water out too, and this is where the worst of the wet stuff is going to accumulate. It's comfortable enough to wear on long rides that are wet from the word go, but is light enough to be an emergency layer, and it handily fits into a jersey pocket.
Naysayers will shake their heads at the price, but for a waterproof and breathable jacket this light, you'd be hard pressed to find anything much cheaper. Given that super light hiking and mountaineering jackets can easily cost as much as £300, this isn't a bad price for a road cycling specific design with some really good features.
Wear it all day or pack it in your jersey for 'just in case', great quality, design and performance that justifies the price
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Make and model: Rapha Women's Rain Jacket
Size tested: Medium, grey
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?
Aimed at demanding female road riders.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Waterproof front and rear
Windproof and water resistant side panels
Single rear zipped pocket
Machine washable at 30
Available in sizes XXS-XL
Very well made and excellent fabric
Kept me dry from both the inside and the outside even in warmer more humid conditions.
Should last well, but ultimately the fabric will eventually become less breathable as the pores get blocked.
Incredibly light and packs small enough to stick in a jersey pocket.
Very comfortable and stayed put while riding.
Expensive, but very light, small and well tuned to the needs of a road rider.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Fabric, breathability, weight, packsize, cut
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes. Also a good gift for a REALLY good friend.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
Expensive, but very well designed and extraordinarily light and effective.
Age: 37 Height: 1.65m Weight: 67kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, general fitness riding, mtb,
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.