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Verdict: 
A lightweight, packable and insulated jacket ideal for long distance rides, but it's a bit on the short side
Weight: 
232g
Contact: 
Rapha Brevet Insulated Jacket
8 10

Rapha's Brevet collection continues to grow and gain popularity with cyclists keen on going the distance or just boosting their visibility in low light, and the new Insulated Jacket with its excellent Polartec Alpha insulation is a particularly fine addition to the range.

What the Brevet Insulated Jacket does, and does very well, is provide more protection and warmth than the existing Brevet Insulated Gilet it's based on, while still being light enough to pack down extremely small.

> Buy this online here

This packability is intended to appeal to the growing number of bikepacking (modern day touring) enthusiasts who want a top to cope with any weather yet not weigh them down when they don't need to wear it. Don't fret, you don't have to be going on a multi-day adventure to enjoy the benefits and performance of the Brevet Insulated jacket, it's ideal for any cyclist wanting a warm top for the winter without the bulk normally associated with winter jackets. It's packable enough that it just rolls up into a jersey pocket, but it is best stashed in a bag when not in use.

Rapha Brevet Insulated Jacket - back.jpg

Rapha Brevet Insulated Jacket - back.jpg

The key to its performance is the Polartec Alpha insulation, a synthetic down material that provides really good insulation without the bulk normally associated with jackets designed for cold weather cycling. It also manages heat really well, with sufficient breathability to prevent overheating, and the performance doesn't take a knock in the rain either.

Rapha Brevet Insulated Jacket - inside.jpg

Rapha Brevet Insulated Jacket - inside.jpg

You know that experience when your temperature rockets and plummets through a ride and you're continually removing and adding layers? Well, that just doesn't happen with the Brevet Insulated Jacket. Even blasting up long climbs doesn't invoke an unsatisfactory level of sweat or unwelcome heat. It's very good at dealing with the changeable conditions on a long ride.

Rapha Brevet Insulated Jacket - vent.jpg

Rapha Brevet Insulated Jacket - vent.jpg

Rapha has added a water-repellent coating to the front panels, and it does help fend of rain should you get caught in a shower – which, let's face it, is highly likely at this time of year. It's not a waterproof jacket – rain will get through eventually if you're caught in a prolonged downpour – but it does dry very quickly between shower bursts, and the Alpha insulation doesn't get soggy or stop working when it's wet. The front panels also keep the chill wind from penetrating through to your skin, so you don't need to layer up with a windproof gilet as you do with some jackets.

Rapha Brevet Insulated Jacket - chest.jpg

Rapha Brevet Insulated Jacket - chest.jpg

It's a very lightweight piece and Rapha has saved further weight by not giving it the normal three rear pocket setup of most winter jackets. (There's just the one zipped pocket.) That's because it's intended to be worn as part of a layering system, such as over a long-sleeve jersey and baselayer, while a jacket like Rapha's Classic Winter or Pro Team can be worn over just a baselayer. The idea is to give you more versatility for longer rides and multi-day events where a multi-layer clothing approach helps you better deal with whatever weather may come your way. Not adding pockets helps keep the weight low and packability factor high. It's sort of like an insulated emergency shell.

Rapha Brevet Insulated Jacket - pocket.jpg

Rapha Brevet Insulated Jacket - pocket.jpg

The fit and shape of the jacket is generally quite good, being snug (I tested a size small) without being tight or restrictive. Stretchy brushed fabric side panels keep it all cinched in nicely at the sides, and the tall collar is appreciated when the wind is howling through the hedgerows. My main gripe is the lack of length in the body – it's just a tiny bit too short for my torso, but it's not so pronounced when hunched over the handlebars. Still, another centimetre or two please Rapha. (I admit I am quite skinny, but don't have this problem with other clothing manufacturers.)

Rapha Brevet Insulated Jacket - riding.jpg

Rapha Brevet Insulated Jacket - riding.jpg

Some people don't really approve of black jackets (it's available in two other options, blue and grey), but the two bands provide a high level of reflectivity, plus the Rapha logos are reflective, and it does help you to stand out at night. That focus on adding reflectivity makes it an good option for cyclists commuting or training in the dark without compromising the performance that some reflective jackets can.

Rapha Brevet Insulated Jacket - reflective.jpg

Rapha Brevet Insulated Jacket - reflective.jpg

I've come across Polartec's Alpha in some clothing already, namely the Sportful R&D Zero jacket – the Italian company was one of the first to make use of the fabric. While the Sportful jacket provides sufficient insulation that it can be worn over just a baselayer, it's not as lightweight or packable as Rapha's. For the current cold weather the Brevet needs to be used in conjunction with a baselayer and long-sleeve jersey, it just doesn't provide enough insulation on its own when it's this cold.

> Buyer's Guide: The best winter cycling jackets

I've found the Rapha particularly useful for my occasional commute to the road.cc office, where I prefer to travel light but need clothing that will cope with the cold temperatures of the early morning ride as well as the warmer (usually) ride home. It packs up very small and disappears inside my small backpack if need be, and the large reflective bands are particularly appreciated in the dark country lanes that make up most of my commute.

Rapha Brevet Insulated Jacket - back shoulders.jpg

Rapha Brevet Insulated Jacket - back shoulders.jpg

It's a versatile, lightweight, packable and highly reflective jacket that works really well in helping you layer up for longer rides with unpredictable weather and temperature fluctuations. That it's not warm enough to be worn on its own is a bit of a limiting factor, but pair it with the right layers and it'll keep you cosily warm on the longest rides without any fear of overheating.

Verdict

A lightweight, packable and insulated jacket ideal for long distance rides, but it's a bit on the short side

road.cc test report

Make and model: Rapha Brevet Insulated 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: "Long-distance riders can encounter a full range of weather conditions, so a lightweight layer that is both warm and packable is essential. The Brevet Insulated Jacket provides exceptional warmth, while highly breathable Polartec® Alpha® insulation ensures you won't overheat during harder efforts. Extensively tested across a range of conditions: from the Transcontinental race across Europe, to the cold summits of Australia's snowy mountains.

"This versatile jacket is made for days when the weather is hard to predict. The fast-drying and hydrophobic properties of Polartec® Alpha® mean the jacket won't hold water like natural down insulation and with a DWR (durable water repellent) coating you can watch the rain roll off.

"Soft, brushed jersey side panels add warmth and allow the jacket to stretch over full pockets, while reflective detailing increases visibility in low light. When not in use the jacket rolls up neatly, secured by an elasticated loop at the neck."

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

Quick-drying and hydrophobic Polartec® Alpha® insulation for warmth in all conditions

Self-storing (folds into band at neck) for easy packing

DWR (durable water repellent) coating ensures that you stay dry in wet weather

Wind-resistant fabric gives protection from the elements

Dropped rear hem for added protection from road spray

Reflective detailing throughout for riding in low light

Concealed valuables pocket

Lockable zip puller to prevent jacket opening while riding

Brushed stretch side panels add warmth and accommodate full jersey pockets

Rate the jacket for quality of construction:
 
8/10

Very good construction, not a stray stitch.

Rate the jacket for performance:
 
8/10

Works well over a long-sleeve baselayer to provide good insulation with no overheating.

Rate the jacket for durability:
 
8/10

Has proven to be very tough and durable so far, and constant packing down and stuffing at the bottom of a backpack hasn't done it any damage.

Rate the jacket for waterproofing, based on the manufacturer's rating:
 
7/10

It has DWR treated front panels that help in a shower, but it doesn't stand up to heavy rain.

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

Extremely breathable, a real benefit of the Polartec Alpha insulation.

Rate the jacket for fit:
 
7/10

In general very good, but it's a tiny bit short in the torso for my 5ft 11in height.

Rate the jacket for sizing:
 
6/10

Sized well everywhere apart from the torso where I felt it was a bit short.

Rate the jacket for weight:
 
9/10

It's light enough to disappear inside a backpack.

Rate the jacket for comfort:
 
8/10

Very comfortable top with good stretch where needed.

Rate the jacket for value:
 
7/10

It's not actually that expensive for a jacket using the Polartec Alpha insulation.

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

Very easy, just bung it in the washing machine and it dries very quickly.

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

Correctly layered up it provides good warmth and protection from the elements.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket

Very lightweight and big reflective details.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket

A bit short in the torso for my height.

Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes

Would you consider buying the jacket? Maybe

Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Maybe

Use this box to explain your score

It's a high-performance jacket that is ideal with the right layers underneath for helping you combat the cold and unpredictable weather you might encounter on a long ride. The large reflective details are also ideal for winter training and commuting.

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.

15 comments

Avatar
bendertherobot [1414 posts] 4 months ago
1 like

#shellsuit

Avatar
Dr_Lex [407 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes

Given the riding position, I'd have thought that the scotchlite bands would be better placed on collarbone and back hem. Still, seems a reasonable price for Polartec Alpha & Rapha combo.

Avatar
iso2000 [72 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes
bendertherobot wrote:

#shellsuit

Shell suits covered  your arse. Well that's what I was told.

 

Avatar
Yorkshire wallet [1072 posts] 4 months ago
3 likes

#xmen

//www.johnottman.com/assets/upload/projects/23/61/793/.thumbs/projects-johnottman_xmen2537e64b0371f7-980.0.0.jpg)

Avatar
bendertherobot [1414 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes
Dr_Lex wrote:

Given the riding position, I'd have thought that the scotchlite bands would be better placed on collarbone and back hem. Still, seems a reasonable price for Polartec Alpha & Rapha combo.

It's not bad and a considerably better proposition than the £5 cheaper Brevet windblock jersey

Avatar
drosco [261 posts] 4 months ago
2 likes

It's not much to look at is it? Bit like a bin liner.

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Blackhound [455 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes

I have been interested in a review of this item for a while.  Unable to find many alternatives, The Sugoi equivalent maybe more expensive and a similarish Cafe de Cyclist items is >£50 more.  I am thinking of it for summer riding in audax events that stretch overnight and perhaps to get my moneys worth in the TCR.  Would be nice if they turned up in a sale the only place I usually buy Rapha stuff.

Avatar
CasperCCC [43 posts] 4 months ago
1 like

I bought one of these a few months ago. I absolutely love it. So useful. Comfortable, breathable, packs down nice and small, and weighs almost nothing. It's like a silky little cloud. I've been doubling up with a jacket for slow rides when it's really cold, and with a long sleeved jersey when it's not so cold, or if I'm going to be working hard. 

I know it marks you out as having paid the Rapha tax, but I've given up caring about that now...

Avatar
bendertherobot [1414 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes

What's good about this is that it shows us that we don't have to do what we think cyclists need, slimmed down, fleece lined windstopped panels. We can actually use the sort of thing walkers etc have been using for ages, a nice bit of insulation can go a long way.

Avatar
ChrisS9 [9 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes

I ordered one but ended up sending it back, the main reason was that, as the review notes, the jacket seemed quite short.  I think this is made more noticable because the insulation doesnt extend all the way to the bottom and, as the pictures above demonstrate, the tail of the jacket tends to ride up because its so flimsy and the elastic pulls it up.

No idea about the Sugoi one.  The Sportful R&D Zero uses the same insulation apparently, but looks more substantial.  I haven't tried the Cafe du Cyclist Albertine, but have their jersey made from the same stretchy merino fleece they use for the rear section - and its lovely.

 

Avatar
Mark_1973_ [26 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes

Can't see the Rapha jacket being packable (I personally define a cycling jacket as being packable if it can squeeze into a jersey rear pocket)...

However, I own the CDC Albertine and it's a beautiful piece of kit. It is certainly one for the colder days though. I would say anything above 4 degrees as being too warm, even with only a short sleeve mesh base layer.

Avatar
Johnnystorm [56 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes
Mark_1973_ wrote:

Can't see the Rapha jacket being packable (I personally define a cycling jacket as being packable if it can squeeze into a jersey rear pocket)...

You're in luck then as the review said....

Quote:

....It's packable enough that it just rolls up into a jersey pocket....

 3

Avatar
Mark_1973_ [26 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes
Johnnystorm wrote:
Mark_1973_ wrote:

Can't see the Rapha jacket being packable (I personally define a cycling jacket as being packable if it can squeeze into a jersey rear pocket)...

You're in luck then as the review said....

Quote:

....It's packable enough that it just rolls up into a jersey pocket....

 3

 

I know what it said.....I just don't think it's realistic!

Avatar
CasperCCC [43 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes
Mark_1973_ wrote:

I know what it said.....I just don't think it's realistic!

Totally realistic - it does fit in a jersey pocket.

Avatar
McNugget [1 post] 3 months ago
0 likes

@davearthur

Dave I am interested in getting this to wear over a Rapha Brevet jersey.  I saw you have also reviewed Sportful R&D light jacket.  How do the fit of the two jackets compare?  I normally wear S for Rapha products.  Cheers