A lightweight piece that looks exceptional and has one of the best zippers around. The pocket arrangement is clever too. The fit will be a dividing line though, and some will love it while others will not.
Pockets fit bulky clothing
Comfortable zipper garage
Fit is on the loose side
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A good cycling gilet, or vest, is one of the most versatile pieces in a cyclist's arsenal of clothing, and there are options that cover a wide range of situations. You can wear it with a summer jersey when it's a little too cold or add wind protection to a long sleeve jersey. The best gilets for cycling work great when you want to add extra weather protection to a lightweight jacket. If you are looking for a great gilet then you've no doubt spent some time with your eyes on the Rapha Brevet Gilet.
Rapha is a company that consistently makes high-quality clothes and that's why they've made our list of the best clothing brands. Now that we've spent some time with the Rapha Brevet Gilet with Pockets, we've had a chance to really understand all the little details. If you are wondering what the Rapha Brevet Gilet with Pockets is like to wear, then keep reading to see what we think of it.
Design and aesthetics
Rapha has a reputation for top notch aesthetics and the Brevet Gilet with Pockets delivers on that reputation. In 2021, after seventeen years on the market, most cyclists take the trademark look of a Rapha garment for granted, but it's a look that's iconic enough to continue to hold to. In the case of this piece, there are options for two different shades of pink and two different shades of blue, though all the colours carry the double stripe design.
The stripes do help complete the Rapha look but they are also highly reflective. At the edge of the chest, the strips stop. The material is heavy enough that it wouldn't help breathability and there's little benefit to be had under the arms anyway. They pick up again on the rear panel for visibility from behind.
On the sides of the gilet and in the upper back, there is a very sheer mesh. It's thin enough that it's easy to see through and does nothing to hinder breathability. It's also the only stretch material on this piece.
The rest of the garment is made from polyester. It lacks any stretch or insulation. Paired with the extensive mesh, the design does nothing to add warmth. There's enough venting that it's not possible to build heat within the gilet. Instead of insulation, you get windstopping.
At the front is a zipper that is one of the best details of the whole piece. The plastic YKK Vislon zipper is a double design with large teeth that sits off-centre to the wearer's right. The custom Rapha pull is easy to grab and it's possible to unzip from the top, or the bottom, with one hand. Behind the zipper sits a flap making sure to retain the windstopping power of the front panel. At the top, you'll find a large, extra soft, zipper garage to protect your chin and neck.
Jump to the rear and you'll see what appears to be a standard array of three pockets. These pockets are the trick that makes the Rapha Brevet Gilet with Pockets unique. All three pockets get the same elastic edge you find at the arm holes and at the bottom of the drop tail. The two outer pockets behave like any normal jersey but the centre is a bit different.
The centre pocket looks the same from the outside but lacks the expected edges. As soon as you've put your hand past the very top the edges fall away and a larger cavity opens up. This space has the same coverage as the whole back on three pockets.
The Brevet line offers not only different features but also a different fit than other options from Rapha. For me, that's the first thing I notice and it's likely to be a contentious detail. I like a close fit in my cycling clothing, but that's not what you get in this Brevet gilet and it's enough that it almost feels like I could go down a size.
For me and my tastes, the fit is not ideal but I recognise that there are many cyclists who prefer a slightly looser fit, so if you fall within that group, you are going to appreciate this. It's still well-tailored, with a sleek look, it's just not 'WorldTour-tight'. It does also help keep things comfortable even with the pockets stuffed full and it works well as a final layer over jackets.
Fit aside, the usefulness of this gilet lies in recognising when to use it. There are gilets on the market designed for bad weather. This piece does better with nice weather but when it's a bit chilly. Time spent riding in the Southwest of the United States in the winter is a perfect example of the best use case.
A sunny day where it warms up to 64F / 18C during the ride but starts near 37F / 3C is ideal. The sun is always out but it's cold enough that you need some wind protection. When the day starts you might have arm warmers and the extended centre pocket makes sure that there's plenty of room for them later. Because you can spread the warmers across a larger area, they won't feel like a tightly rolled ball against your back.
Although the pocket is the most unique feature, this review can't come to an end without more praise for the zipper. The large plastic teeth will never degrade and the flap keeps the wind out but never gets in the way. The zipper garage does need a little bit of negotiation when unzipping one-handed but it's well worth the luxurious feel. Most importantly though the off-centre design keeps you from stacking zippers through layers. It’s a functional detail but it also contributes to the look. Truly, this zipper design is a high mark that others would be wise to follow.
The Rapha Brevet Gilet with Pockets is one of five gilet options that Rapha offers. They all have a unique place in the lineup with a different focus. In this case, expect wind-stopping in an ultralight design. Perfect for winter riding in a warm location or dry spring and autumn days in colder locations.
If you are looking for a tight fit then you'll need to look at other options. If you prefer the cut to be a little more relaxed with plenty of storage then this Rapha gilet is going to be perfect.
Tech Specs: Rapha Brevet Gilet with Pockets
- Price: £90 / $125 / €110 / AU$155
- Weight: 100g size small
- Pockets: 3 with the center covering the full width
- Sizes Available: XS-XXL
- Colours: High-Vis Pink, Dark Navy/Hi-Vis Pink, Pink
- Two-Way Zip: Yes
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Josh hails from the Pacific Northwest of the United States but would prefer riding through the desert than the rain. He will happily talk for hours about the minutiae of cycling tech but also has an understanding that most people just want things to work. He is a road cyclist at heart and doesn't care much if those roads are paved, dirt, or digital. Although he rarely races, if you ask him to ride from sunrise to sunset the answer will be yes.
Weight: 140 lb.
Rides: Cannondale Topstone Lefty, Cannondale CAAD9, Enve Melee, Look 795 Blade RS, Priority Continuum Onyx
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