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Verdict: 
A high quality jacket that can deal with winter weather in all its guises
Weight: 
393g
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Rapha Classic Winter Jacket
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The Rapha Classic Winter Jacket is a high-quality water and wind-resistant jacket that's ideal for tackling any sort of weather you're likely to encounter on a winter ride. It could be the last jacket you'll ever need to buy.

Rapha has employed Polartec's Power Shield Pro fabric to achieve this, blending the performance attributes of its Classic Softshell jacket with the weather resistance of the Hardshell jacket.

> Buy this online here

The fabric is based on a softshell – it has the same softness – but uses a microporous membrane and a more durable weather repelling exterior to block wind and rain. It's essentially a softshell jacket with added water resistance, making it more versatile for dealing with unpredictable winter weather.

Rapha Classic Winter Jacket - riding.jpg

Rapha Classic Winter Jacket - riding.jpg

In addition to the water-resistant fabric, Rapha has taped all the seams for added protection from the elements. I've ridden through the rain, both constant drizzle and short, heavy downpours, and it has kept me comfortably dry. It's not as waterproof as Gore's One Active jacket, but it's much more waterproof than a regular softshell or something like Castelli's Gabba.

The Power Shield Pro fabric strikes a really nice balance between weather protection and breathability. The downfall of a hardshell jacket is the compromised breathability, but the Classic Winter Jacket scores very highly here. Because the fabric only blocks 99% of the wind, there's just enough airflow – occasionally detectable through the arms – to ensure breathability is exceptionally good compared to a hardshell jacket, and nearly as good as a normal softshell.

Rapha Classic Winter Jacket - shoulders.jpg

Rapha Classic Winter Jacket - shoulders.jpg

During the long training rides this jacket is designed for, it does an excellent job of regulating your temperature. Wearing it over a long-sleeve baselayer, my temperature remained constant during a long ride with short periods of intense activity.

It never gets too hot, but if you do find it a little warm, two underarm zipped vents are really useful for sucking in some cool air. The jacket provides a reasonable level of insulation, but even worn over a long-sleeve baselayer it isn't as warm as Sportful's R&D Light jacket. There's space to layer up, though, so for really cold rides there's nothing to stop you adding a second layer.

Rapha Classic Winter Jacket - vent.jpg

Rapha Classic Winter Jacket - vent.jpg

What the Classic Winter Jacket does brilliantly is cope with any winter weather. It can be chucking it down with rain when you start and the jacket will cope just fine; it can be cold, dry and very windy and the jacket will equally meet those demands. Best of all, should the weather change during a longer ride, you're not suddenly caught out in the wrong jacket: the Classic Jacket can handle any foul weather you're likely to ride through at this time of year.

Because the fabric is softer than a hardshell, the fit and shape of the jacket is better. The size small I tested fitted well, nicely shaped around the arms, with good sleeve length and nice elasticated cuffs, and generous in the torso and shoulders. It's certainly not a race fit, though – if you want race fit you're better served by the Pro Team jacket – and it's not as conforming to your body as some other jackets. My only real gripe is that it's not elasticated around the hem to keep it snug against your bib tights, though drawcords do help a little.

Rapha Classic Winter Jacket - hem.jpg

Rapha Classic Winter Jacket - hem.jpg

Retaining some of the signature details of Rapha's original Classic Softshell, the new Winter Classic has an offset water-resistant zip and shoulder patches. It's designed for long winter rides so you get three rear pockets, though they're annoyingly just that bit too high, making retrieving food while riding unnecessarily tricky. Two small zipped pockets, one at the front and one on the back, are ideal for small change or the house keys.

Rapha Classic Winter Jacket - pocket.jpg

Rapha Classic Winter Jacket - pocket.jpg

The jacket is available in three colours, including this high-visibility Chartreuse, and there's a healthy smattering of reflective details on the arms and shoulders. I've become a fan of brightly coloured jackets since moving to the country, and take more measures to stand out on remote country lanes than I used to living in the city.

Rapha Classic Winter Jacket - reflective detail.jpg

Rapha Classic Winter Jacket - reflective detail.jpg

At the back there's a dropped tail below the three pockets, plus a pink fold-out bum flap for when you're riding on wet roads, adorned with a large reflective Rapha logo for extra visibility. It's neatly zipped away in an internal pocket when not needed.

Rapha Classic Winter Jacket - pockets.jpg

Rapha Classic Winter Jacket - pockets.jpg

The Classic Winter Jacket is impressive: versatile, dependable and durable. It takes any weather in its stride, from wind to rain and everything else that winter might throw your way. It makes dressing for a long winter ride really easy – just sling it on over a long-sleeve baselayer and you'll be warm and comfortable for the duration, with the high level of breathability ensuring you never overheat even during harder training efforts or long climbs.

> Read our guide to the best winter jackets

It's pricey, but if it's a choice between buying a softshell and a waterproof jacket for the winter, or just the Classic Winter jacket, I know what I'd go for.

Verdict

A high quality jacket that can deal with winter weather in all its guises

road.cc test report

Make and model: Rapha Classic Winter Jacket

Size tested: Small

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?

Rapha says: "New for 2016, the Classic Winter Jacket has been developed as a do-all outer layer to withstand the harshest cycling conditions, on any kind of ride. The ideal garment for winter base miles, wear it on training rides in the wet, or all-day adventures in the cold. The jacket has ample storage for food and tools with three large pockets on the rear and a separate waterproof pocket for valuables. An adjustable hi-vis shock cord on the hem and elastane inner cuffs keep the jacket sealed, providing extra protection against harsh winter winds.

"Cut from a breathable fabric that transfers moisture vapour away from the skin and with underarm zippers for added ventilation, the Classic Winter Jacket works hard to prevent you overheating even during the hardest efforts. A stowable drop tail has hi-vis detailing for rides in low light, and reflective elements on the shoulders and cuffs offer further visibility."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?

Polartec® Power Shield Pro® fabric

Waterproof

Wind-resistant

Comfortable stretch

Highly breathable to regulate temperature during hard efforts

Taped internal seams to keep out the worst of the weather

Water-resistant YKK® AquaGuard zip

Elastane inner cuffs, for better wind protection

Concealed front pocket

Debossed logo on sleeve

Reflective drop tail for visibility

Drainage holes in rear pocket

Rate the jacket for quality of construction:
 
9/10

The quality of the jacket is first class, with lots of nice details.

Rate the jacket for performance:
 
9/10

For dealing with cold, wind and rain and everything else the winter throws at you, this jacket takes it all in its stride. It's not the warmest, but for brisk tempo rides it's ideal, and you can adjust the layers underneath to add more warmth on colder rides.

Rate the jacket for durability:
 
8/10

I've been battering it through the winter grind getting it pasted in mud and slinging it in the washing machine, and it's coped just fine.

Rate the jacket for waterproofing, based on the manufacturer's rating:
 
8/10

It's coped with some very wet weather, and while it's not as waterproof as a pure waterproof jacket, the protection is adequate for most rain you're likely to be riding through.

Rate the jacket for breathability, based on the manufacturer's rating:
 
9/10

It's impressively breathable – even during harder efforts it never really gets too steamy – and two zipped underarm vents are useful when the temperature does creep up.

Rate the jacket for fit:
 
7/10

The fit is good on the whole, not as good as a softshell but much more comfortable and relaxed than a hardshell.

Rate the jacket for sizing:
 
8/10

I found the sizing spot on

Rate the jacket for weight:
 
8/10

It's not a heavy jacket.

Rate the jacket for comfort:
 
8/10

For long winter training rides when the weather is ghastly, this jacket shelters you from the elements.

Rate the jacket for value:
 
6/10

Yes it's expensive, but it offers the performance of two jackets in one, and if you look at it that way, it's not so bad... It's probably the only jacket you need for 99% of winter riding.

How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?

Very easy, on a 30-degree wash.

Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose

It delivers on Rapha's claims very well.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket

The protection from the elements and the impressive breathability.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket

The fit, particularly around the waist, slightly lets it down if I'm being really picky.

Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes

Would you consider buying the jacket? Yes

Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your score

A high-quality jacket with a high-end price, but it delivers a high level of performance for winter riding.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 31  Height: 180cm  Weight: 67kg

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking

David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.

9 comments

Avatar
Rapha Nadal [545 posts] 7 months ago
1 like

Agreed that it's a great jacket; I picked one up just after Xmas.  However, and as per David's comments, the pockets are located too high on the back to be easily accesible which is a pain!

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Leviathan [2670 posts] 7 months ago
1 like

Oy mate, your zips wonky.

Avatar
drosco [315 posts] 7 months ago
1 like

£260 though, sheesh.

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riotgibbon [228 posts] 7 months ago
3 likes

Drosco, you are today's winner!

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thebucket [3 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

So in terms of isolation the rapha classic winter jacket is not as warm as the sportful R&D light and therefor less warming as the castelli espresso?

 

Rapha got nothing in the closet for winter riders in the alps? Only for cold british winters?

Avatar
paulrattew [195 posts] 7 months ago
1 like
thebucket wrote:

So in terms of isolation the rapha classic winter jacket is not as warm as the sportful R&D light and therefor less warming as the castelli espresso?

 

Rapha got nothing in the closet for winter riders in the alps? Only for cold british winters?

 

I guess this depends on your approach to layering. They've taken the view of producing a more flexible jacket (i.e. usable at a slightly milder range of temeratures than the castelli and sportful jackets), the fit of which leaves space under it for a good amount of layering if desired.

Stick a proper winter base layer under this, and maybe a mid-layer, and it will be good for very low temperatures.

I've found with the castelli espresso that I overheat easily, so its only usable in a more limited range of conditions for me.

I liked the rapha classic softshell but thought it could do with more rain resistance. The Rapha hardshell wasn't breathable enough for me. Half way house between the two in terms of resistance, but retaining the breathability (especially with the pit-zips, which i love) sounds like a good option.

Avatar
Rapha Nadal [545 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes
thebucket wrote:

So in terms of isolation the rapha classic winter jacket is not as warm as the sportful R&D light and therefor less warming as the castelli espresso?

 

Rapha got nothing in the closet for winter riders in the alps? Only for cold british winters?

Things like this are wholly subjective though, surely.  I find the jacket to be very toasty when combined with a good base layer - I was sceptical as it's not very thick or bulky.  Somebody else may not, just as they may not find the Sportful or Castelli jackets to be warm.

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Disfunctional_T... [195 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes
Quote:

It's essentially a softshell jacket with added water resistance

Ummmm, most softshells have water-resistant membranes. The author can be forgiven though because there's no good definition of "softshell".

Quote:

It's not as waterproof as Gore's One Active jacket

Any evidence to back that up? Power Shield Pro has a hydrostatic head of 5,000 mm when new. Even after repeated washing, its hydrostatic head should stay above 3,000 and be waterproof.

Avatar
ChrisS9 [9 posts] 7 months ago
1 like

Odd one this....

I've had this jacket for a few weeks now and ridden with it (mainly commuting) in a variety of conditions.  I'm fairly well built and find the fit a little tight on the forearms, which isn't unusual for Rapha but makes it a little hard to put on and take off.  The fit feels very cycling specific - wierd standing around off the bike (tight across the chest, loose around the shoulders...) but great on it.  The rear pockets are definitely slightly too high for convenience, either that are my arms aren't very flexible.

It seems extremely breathable when paired with a decent base layer and occasionally using the underarm zips and appears to be effectively waterproof.  Which is pretty remarkable really.  Personally I don't find it particuarily warm, probably because its so breathable, so when the temperataures drop I need to layer up underneath, although struggling a little due to the tight arms.

Can't quite decide whether I like it or not, suspect if it fit me slightly better I'd love it, as it is I'm almost tempted see if I can sell it for enough to pay for something else with a different fit...