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Rapha Pro Team Insulated Gore-Tex Rain Jacket review

How does this premier jacket differ from similar options and what type of riding is it best suited for?

Rapha Pro Team Insulated Gore-Tex Rain Jacket
(Image: © Josh Ross)

Our Verdict

The Rapha Insulated Pro Team Rain jacket is a stylish option perfect for cool, but not extreme, days when rain is in the forecast. It works best for shorter rides without a layer underneath

For

  • External pockets
  • Double-sided zipper
  • High-visibility option is gorgeous
  • Recycled materials
  • Internal chest pocket

Against

  • Short drop tail
  • Pockets don't hold much
  • Sleeves are tight even when unzipped
  • The sizing is different compared to other Rapha products

Finding the right clothes for riding in the rain is a never-ending quest. New technologies change the equation and depending on what your needs are, there's different answers. The breadth of options out there is the reason we have a guide covering the best waterproof cycling jackets.

The greater landscape of options for rain jackets is dizzying but even just staying within the Rapha range, things aren’t simple, since there is a huge array of jacket options available from the brand. If you narrow it to only rainy-day options in the Pro Team line-up, that leaves you with the Pro Team Gore-Tex Rain Jacket, the Pro Team Insulated Gore-Tex Rain Jacket, Pro Team Insulated Gore-Tex Jacket, and the Pro Team Lightweight Gore-Tex Jacket. Four very similar names that all cover slightly different situations of rainy-day riding, but with a fair amount of overlap in the ideal use case of each. 

We’ve now spent time in a few of them and today we're going to talk about the Rapha Pro Team Insulated Gore-Tex Rain Jacket, so if you are looking for the right jacket to handle both cold weather and rain, keep reading to see how the new option fits into the larger landscape of rain jackets. 

Rapha Pro Team Insulated Gore-Tex Rain Jacket rear view

If you are worried about visibility, the blue colour is an option sure to stand out against grey skies (Image credit: Josh Ross)

Design and aesthetics

The key thing to point out with this jacket is the avoidance of using Gore-Tex Shakedry fabric. Shakedry is a truly fantastic material that takes the Gore-Tex membrane and removes the face fabric, exposing the waterproof membrane from within. The result is a material that's incredibly lightweight, and the lack of face fabric means there's nothing to absorb water, so it simply beads and runs off. However, it's also incredibly fragile and that's one of the reasons Rapha now offers another option.

Shakedry is generally fine for road riding, you can wear it, wash it, crumple it up into a jersey pocket, and repeat over and over and expect it will be fine. However, the insulated version of the Pro Team jacket with Shakedry gained popularity with a different crowd. It quickly grabbed the attention of adventure cyclists. 

It was always too big to fit in a jersey pocket but for adventurers who were commonly using something off our list of the best bikepacking bags, it was easy to fit. However, while the jacket offered immense weatherproofing performance, Shakedry is no match for branches. Not only that but it's also considered unrepairable and that's a challenge for Rapha repair services (opens in new tab), and that leads us to this jacket. 

Those Shakedry options still exist but now there are more options and, in comparison to the insulated Shakedry jacket, the Pro Team Insulated Gore-Tex Rain jacket has two big differences. The first is a change in the focus of the design. Pro Team stands for racing in the Rapha portfolio and this jacket is more in line with that focus. Then, alongside that conceptual change comes a change in materials, the new version of the Pro Team Insulated Rain Jacket continues the Gore partnership but moves to Paclite Plus. 

Rapha Pro Team Insulated Gore-Tex Rain Jacket detail showing back of Paclite plus

Look inside the pocket and you can see the back of the Gore Paclite Plus fabric and the waterproof membrane (Image credit: Josh Ross)

Paclite Plus is a hybrid between Shakedry and a traditional three-layer Gore-Tex design. The outer face is no longer fragile and now you've got wear-resistant nylon. In this case from Rapha, that nylon is also recycled, which is great to see. The membrane then sits attached to the back of the face layer. Without a third layer needed, Paclite Plus continues to be lightweight compared to a three-layer garment but it's also more durable. 

On the inside of the insulated version of the Pro Team rain jacket, you'll find a lightweight, 65gsm insulation. The insulation looks a lot like the Polartec Alpha insulation found in the pro team insulated Gore-Tex jacket but it's not the same. The design here leans towards lightweight insulation but perhaps even more than adding warmth, it adds a comfortable inner layer. If you want to go with a base layer only, the lining keeps the jacket comfortable against the skin. 

At the rear is another feature designed to help with a base layer only approach. There are two pockets, each with a bit of elastic at the upper edge. There's plenty of width to get a hand with a glove into these pockets and on the inside there's an opportunity to inspect the inner layer of the Paclite textile. The bottom of these pockets features a drain hole to make sure you don't end up carrying extra water in a storm.

Performance

With all the similar names, it’s confusing to understand what jacket is the right jacket for your needs. I’ve spent time in both the Pro Team Insulated Gore-Tex Jacket (the one made with Shakedry) and now the Pro Team Insulated Gore-Tex Rain Jacket (with Paclite Plus). If that sounds confusing, it is. They both use a Gore-Tex outer, have insulation inside, and work in the rain. Where they differ is in how they are best used.

The Pro Team Insulated Gore-Tex Jacket (Shakedry) is your ace in the hole, deal with any weather, no matter what comes your way, but it’s also fragile. 

The Pro Team Insulated Gore-Tex Rain Jacket (Paclite Plus) on the other hand is more of a race day option for shorter rides. It doesn’t handle weather that’s nearly as extreme but it’s still worth exploring depending on your needs, and it's more durable. 

When it comes to rain performance, the two-layer Paclite Plus is halfway between a hardshell and a softshell. There is a completely and totally waterproof membrane. Paclite falls under the Gore "guaranteed to keep you dry promise" and like other hardshell options, it does not leak. Despite that performance, the outer face is able to hold water. It's less hydrophobic than Shakedry and while it starts off shedding water, it acts a bit like a softshell and will eventually take on water over time. The insulation is behind the membrane and there's very little available volume so it's not a lot of water, but after six hours in heavy rain, I noticed it. It's for this reason that I'd reserve this jacket for a few hours of hard riding. 

The insulation is also not a great option for extremes but performs well in the right situation. When I was riding in December and the temperatures were just above freezing this would not have been a viable option. 

The focus here is on staying light and there are a couple of pieces that come together to make this work. One part is that the material used is very lightweight. The other is that the fit is so tight that even fitting an insulated long sleeve jersey like the Castelli Tutto Nano jersey isn't comfortable. The final piece is that there are pockets that allow you to manage only a base layer underneath. Put all the pieces together and it's perfect for temperatures ranging from 4C/40F to around 10C/50F.

Verdict

The biggest challenge with the Rapha Pro Team Insulated Gore-Tex Rain Jacket is understanding its purpose. With so many overlapping options and similar names, it’s tough to tell what the best choice for your needs are. Look at this jacket if you are looking for a lightweight rainy-day jacket for shorter rides. You’ll also want to consider this one if you aren’t interested in wearing another layer underneath. 

The fit is different enough from other Rapha options you might want to budget some time to try out options. The Shakedry jacket is a perfect fit for me in size small while the Rapha Brevet Gilet with pockets fits me in size extra small. This jacket technically fits in size small but it’s so tight, particularly across the hips, that there’s no room for even an insulated jersey underneath. If you prefer a little breathing room, you’ll want to size up even compared to your size in other Rapha Pro Team products.

If you head out in dreary, chilly, and sometimes rainy weather to ride as hard as possible for a few hours, you are going to be very happy with this jacket. It's a beautiful jacket, the blue stands out against grey skies, and it's got all the features you'd expect from a race jacket. 

Even when placed in the correct context though, there are still a few details that could use a second look from Rapha designers. There is an argument that things like pockets that lack stretch and don't hold much could be a non-issue for short rides. You might even say the same about the fit at the wrist that struggles with heavy gloves. There's no getting around the short tail though, which becomes even more of an issue if you are riding a race bike without fenders. 

Tech Specs: Rapha Pro Team Insulated Gore-Tex Rain Jacket

  • Price: £310 / $420 / €370 / AU$540
  • Available Colours: Dark Navy/White, Blue/Orange
  • Available sizes: XS-XXL
  • Weight: 257g size small

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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 minutia 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.
Height: 5'9"
Weight: 137 lb.
Rides: Orbea Orca Aero, Cannondale Topstone Lefty, Cannondale CAAD9, Trek Checkpoint, Priority Continuum Onyx