There aren't that many companies producing female specific cut lightweight windproof gilets- that staple for providing increased warmth with a very low weight penalty- and fewer still producing gilets cut with cycling in mind, rather than running, Rapha are one of them though.
That said, though, the women's Gilet from Rapha is by quite some way the most expensive of the options available to the female cyclist, and also not the lightest. So is it worth the Rapha premium?
Available in a choice of either black or cream we tested the more practical for British contiditons black version rather than the cream pictured. It's a no fuss design, with clean lines, a flattering contoured cut and the bare minimum of features. Conceived as a garment to be tucked into a jersey pocket for those times when the weather takes a turn for the worse, the focus is on packsize, weight and efficiency. The smooth fabric is windproof, breathable (assisted further by a mesh ventilation panel at the back) and treated with a water repellent finish. It's light and with a small amount of stretch, but Rapha have chosen to up the toughness and durability rather than going for the ultra ultra lightweight fabrics favoured by some. There's plenty of reflective piping around, making the rider nice and obvious, and there are a couple of bidon sized pouch pockets on the back and a tiny rear facing (easier to use when in the saddle) zipped key pocket. The collar is softly lined for added comfort.
To wear, it's extremely comfortable and effective, with pleasantly breathable fabric. The dropped tail gives plenty of coverage without interfering with the saddle, the fit is spot-on, with a size medium roughly equivalent to a pretty standard UK12 and the neck is snug and keeps out the wind without being over tight. It's not the tiniest to shove in a jersey pocket or wedge pack, but I didn't encounter any real problems.
An extremely capable, beautifully crafted lightweight gilet, with a lot of great features, and a high end price tag to match.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha Women's Gilet
Size tested: Black, Medium
Tell us what the product 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?
For female cyclists in changeable conditions.
Does just the trick.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
100% windproof, breathable polyamide
2 rear elasticated pouch pockets
Soft fleecy chin guard
Mesh back panel
Available in sizes XXS-XL
Extremely well made.
Superbly breathable, protected well from wind and packed down small.
Very touch fabric.
Not as light as some, but the tougher fabric is also more breathable than many super light fabrics.
Very comfortable indeed.
Average value for Rapha. Expensive, but you're getting a lot for your money as usual. A good investment if you can afford it.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Shape, reflectivity, fit, fabric
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes. Very much and frequently.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
It's hard to find fault with a gilet that's small enough to stuff into a jersey pocket, windproof and genuinely breathable, highly reflective and tough enough to last for years. Apart from the price.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, general fitness riding, mtb,