Rapha are known for their classic clothing lines with subtle colour schemes. The Rapha Hardshell Jacket breaks from this with a new fabric and cut like no other winter jacket I've used, and offers it up in an almost commuter grade 'Chartreuse' yellow. The price is still very Rapha, which will keep some away from what is the best jacket our there for the weather on our fair island (in my opinion).
I'll go straight to what I was most impressed by on this jacket: the fabric. It's like the hardshell of many technical adventure jackets but extremely breathable. It's a matt finish with a waxy coating - like a Barbour - that turns your body into a metaphorical ducks back; water just runs off it. The good thing about this fabric is that it's not like the water repellency that many fabrics are treated with to keep you dry for light showers, it is impermeable to water.
Yet this jacket still breathes. I used this for long, wet and windy rides but equally for cold, dry and intense rides, and found the jacket to cope well with both. Not once did it fault and leave me cold even after 3.5 hours in constant rain. Despite how well it breathes, it isn't draughty so just a base layer below is usually enough. I found I was warm from when I closed the door behind me to when I got back.
The inside is lined in a soft charcoal polyester which all seems sealed. Tidy fabric loops for a clothing hook and I think headphone cable (there is a inner hole to the zipped pocket) finish off a very classy interior - as you'd expect. The sleeves have an elasticated cuff that seals across the wrist, preventing any draughts between glove and jacket - small but something I really started to appreciate.
A soft, lightly fleeced collar helps prevent any chafing on what is a good high covering for the neck. Which brings me onto the other talking point of this jacket: the off-centre zip. I've seen it elsewhere since but this was the first I think. It's a neat idea and you wonder why it's taken so long. It allows the collar to come up taller and closer because there isn't a chunky zip getting in the way of the lumpiest part of the neck. Secondly, it creates a better fitted jacket because the centre line doesn't end up folding/creasing along the zip line. I can imagine it's harder to manufacture hence why it's on this no holds barred jacket.
The jacket has a total of five pockets: three deep 'cargo' at the rear, a zipped one atop the right-hand (with headphone hole) and a small concealed zipped one at the left waist (for some money or keys). The rear zipped pocket has a nice big loop to it for easy access whilst on the bike. Across the middle pocket is a subtle Rapha logo that is reflective but not overly so. A few bits of reflective pipping on the pockets and signature arm band close the jacket's illuminating credentials; the 'Chartreuse' is certainly bright but not reflective and looses its vibrancy slightly once wet.
Chartreuse (the colour on test) brings me to my one flaw of this test jacket. The matt finish means dirt seems to become ingrained in the fabric and I found the colour very hard to keep looking tidy. After a few outings and commutes I started noticing black marks and stains that I couldn't get rid of and one puncture later I was starting to lose hope. It meant I was always concerned about the jacket and trying to keep it clean, which spoilt my enjoyment slightly.
Considering the excellent weatherproofing and £240 retail price it only made me more anxious trying to clean it. With the brand being what Rapha is and that people buying these items clearly like to look stylish on a bike, I can see the jacket looking tired rather quickly. In conclusion: get blue or dark red.
Billed as the ultimate winter workhorse, it's hard for me to disagree given how many grim weather rides this jacket has gotten me through. It manages to be extremely stylish whilst providing excellent function too - a hard duo to pair.
The price is eye watering but I think think it is far more manageable than some other lines given the quality of this jacket. It's a jacket that you will be able to rely on no matter what the weather throws down for a good few winters and I think that's good value.
Simply the best jacket I've used - but don't get the yellow.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha Hardshell Jacket
Size tested: Chartreuse, 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?
'The Hardshell Jacket has been designed to wear all-day for absolute protection against the elements. It is completely waterproof and windproof and is the ultimate workhorse jacket, no matter how severe the riding conditions.'
I'd have to agree. It's a jacket for those who want to go out in the weather no matter what and whom for that will see it as good value.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Three cargo pockets
It's a really well made piece of clothing. Every seam is lined on the inside with tidy finishing throughout.
Kept me dry and warm in rain but worked just as well in dry cool weather.
The chartreuse on test was very hard to keep looking tidy and I think it could look tired after some hard use. The rest of the jacket seems to be holding up well though.
Not a lightweight packable jacket but light for a full weatherproofing none the less.
Off-centre zip and high fleece collar, along with the elastic wrist band inner liners made for a cosy wear.
At £240 it's clear this is only for the hardcore who are going to get a lot of use out of it or just those who can spoil themselves. For them I think it shows good value.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
As a weatherproof winter jacket I can't fault it.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The fabrics used throughout and the wrist bands.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Looking after a £240 jacket that is made for riding in such poor weather - the chartreuse was hard to keep clean.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
About the tester
Age: 23 Height: 184cm Weight: 66kg
I usually ride: Orbea Onix (Carbon) - Summer, Orbea Asphalt (Alu) - Winter My best bike is: Orbea Alma G10
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Semi pro
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, club rides, mtb,