The last word in waterproofing comes with Rapha's eye for styling and design
- Superb waterproof nature and breathability
- Incredibly light and packable
- Fit around shoulders could be closer
The Rapha Pro Team GoreTex jacket is Rapha's first take on using the Shakedry technology that's becoming a prerequisite on the best waterproof cycling jackets. Partnering with Gore, the Rapha jacket's waterproofing is, understandably, second-to-none, but what sets it apart from its competition? We've been putting Rapha's new Shakedry jacket to the test in conditions ranging from British sub-zero winter, to Majorcan sunshine, here's what we thought.
What's so special about it?
The main feature of the Rapha Pro Team GoreTex jacket is the Shakedry technology. In a nutshell, Shakedry is a two-layer construction that puts the GORE-TEX membrane on the outside of the jacket, rather than beneath an extra outer-fabric. This makes the jacket lighter, helps it to breathe, yet keeps it waterproof and hydrophobic, meaning water droplets will repel, rather than soak in.
The downside to this is fragility - to the extreme that Rapha even recommends you don't wear the jacket with a rucksack. It's worth adding that it isn't fragile to the point that it damages with every-day use; multiple transitions from body to the jersey pocket throughout the winter months are yet to cause any unwanted damage.
The weight of the jacket is a mere 120 grams and the thickness is just 49gsm, so when fully stowed, it's smaller than a can of coke. Although it comes with an internal pack pouch inside the right-side panel, on-ride stowing generally lends itself to a less meticulous approach, and the small size means it is easy haphazardly stuffing it into a pocket.
Design and aesthetics
The fit of my medium jacket feels just right across the chest and torso, however, the shoulders do lack that same form-fitting approach. This is only noticeable when descending at speed or riding in blustery conditions, as it results in a bit of unwanted wind-flutter. Having tried both sizes, a small is better in this regard, but at 183cm tall, it's too short on the body and restrictive across the chest. The wrist cuffs are well designed, with reasonably long arms and a part-elasticated cuff, they seal well over gloves, and fit closely against bare hands, keeping out the wind.
The closure of the jacket is achieved using a two-way zip. Top-to-bottom will open up entirely whereas bottom-to-top will lead to a Batman-style cape.
Placed centrally on the chest is what Rapha calls a 'signature team placket' which is essentially a three-inch Velcro flap that covers the zip. At first, the placket just seems to get in the way of the zip, adding an extra step when removing the jacket mid-ride, however, it's when zipping from the bottom up this placket becomes useful; preventing the zip from riding right up to the neck, and instead keeping the form fit across the chest while allowing some extra ventilation.
To us mere mortals, the Rapha Pro Team Lightweight Gore-Tex jacket is only available in black, but Rapha recently worked out how to print colour onto the fragile material and created a possibly-divisive bright coloured EF-Education First edition tie-dye version. Personally, I wish it was available to the public.
The jacket wouldn't be Rapha without the British brand's traditional design cues, and the Shakedry jacket doesn't neglect the six stripes and the white armband that cleverly, they have made reflective for added safety.
Is it practical?
Pricing of the Rapha jacket is competitive - in this field of expensive cycling jackets, at least, yet at £220.00 / $295.00, it's still a considerable investment.
The construction of the Shakedry means it is permanently and completely waterproof and claims to be 'highly breathable'. Breathable it is, but while I would be happy to wear this jacket for the duration of a tranquilo ride, it does require the occasional bottom-up-unzipping, especially when the heart rate increases. The minor stretch in the material means it's easily removed, and that makes it a practical addition to any possibly-rainy day on the bike.
If you're looking for complete and total waterproofing, then look no further. The Rapha Pro Team GoreTex is a worthy inclusion in our list of the best waterproof cycling jackets, and although the fit isn't perfect for aerodynamics, it makes more sense when trying to remove it on-the-fly.
Tech Specs: Rapha GoreTex Shakedry
- Price: £220 / US$295
- Material: 61% ePTFE / 39% nylon
- Weight: 120g
- Rivals: Gore C7 Stretch, 7Mesh Oro, Castelli Idro 2, Assos Equipe RS 2
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