Rapha Hardshell Jacket  £240.00

9/10

Simply the best jacket I've used - but don't get the yellow

Weight 388g   Contact  www.rapha.cc

by John Whittington   February 10, 2013  

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.

Verdict

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?

Waterproof

Taped seams

Windproof

Reflective logos

Three cargo pockets

Elastic Cuff

Off-centre Zip

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10

It's a really well made piece of clothing. Every seam is lined on the inside with tidy finishing throughout.

Rate the product for performance:
 
10/10

Kept me dry and warm in rain but worked just as well in dry cool weather.

Rate the product for durability:
 
7/10

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.

Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
 
7/10

Not a lightweight packable jacket but light for a full weatherproofing none the less.

Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
 
10/10

Off-centre zip and high fleece collar, along with the elastic wrist band inner liners made for a cosy wear.

Rate the product for value:
 
8/10

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.

Overall rating: 9/10

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,

 

15 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

What other high-end jackets have you compared this to?

I don't think £240 is unreasonable (though too much for me) for a high-end jacket that performs as well as you say, but I wouldn't consider it good value if there are cheaper jackets that perform just as well. The styling isn't to my taste either, but it may look better in the flesh and in a different colour.

Nic

posted by nbrus [279 posts]
10th February 2013 - 18:12

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i have the rain jacket and thats superb. i like the colour

posted by russyparkin [579 posts]
10th February 2013 - 19:30

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I have the yellow and given up on keeping it clean, it's my winter jacket and will get used in terrible weather. The yellow is really visible though so perfect for horrendous days when it's dark on the roads. I'd rather be slighlupy mucky than run over.

It's an order of magnitude better than the soft shell on really wet/cold days, a perfect jacket for deep winter.

I'll keep my soft shell neat and tidy and use that for posing instead.

posted by miffed [163 posts]
10th February 2013 - 19:56

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Confused, £240 for a workhorse jacket that can't be kept clean, is only good value for those that can afford it yet scores exceptional…

Fixie Girl's picture

posted by Fixie Girl [115 posts]
10th February 2013 - 22:00

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Compared to goretex jkts in the outdoor and ski industry £240 is only just starting to get the good jkts. Have had the privilege of testing one of these jkts through a friend and I must say the breathability is great and better than my £400 Arcteryx gore pro shell jkt. Pretty warm though so don't layer up too heavily.

Luckily my GF buys Grangers cleaner by the 1lt bottle! Dirt shows easily like any jkt this colour but not found it worst then any other.

Just rode 30km through sleet (half rain, half snow) and was bone dry up top!

posted by Nzlucas [88 posts]
11th February 2013 - 0:00

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Those offset zips are a treat, especially with a full length zipped jersey underneath it. Having the bulk of two zips piled on top of each other is really irritating.

posted by Nick T [752 posts]
11th February 2013 - 0:16

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A friend of mine has this jacket. The chartreuse colour looks better in the flesh, it seems difficult to photograph well as it's appearance depends on the lighting, going from greenish to vivid yellow.

As the softshell is pretty good at keeping you dry I didn't see the point of this jacket - having rained/snowed almost non-stop since Christmas however, I guess it would have been perfect.

I have to agree with the previous comment about living with the yellow and accepting it might get dirty. I have seen the blue and red versions in the London store, and both are nice but very dark.

posted by sorebones [103 posts]
11th February 2013 - 0:43

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Get a dark one and chuck a cheap high viz gilet over the top if you're worried about your threads getting dirty. I'd be wary of any cyclist with spotless gear on though, they obviously don't get out much.

posted by Nick T [752 posts]
11th February 2013 - 12:18

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I'd be wary of cyclists who do get out much. They'll only want to sit you down and tell you their Strava times. Zzzzzz. Big Grin

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1028 posts]
12th February 2013 - 9:26

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Compared to the softshell, how is the sizing on this, tighter or looser. I wore a small softshell once but wonder if extra small on this would be better. I am tiny, 65 inches, 130lbs.

posted by nadimk [7 posts]
12th February 2013 - 20:56

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I'm not keen on the chef look and I'd prefer to unzip a centre zip if I get too hot. Not that I can afford it in any case... I'll settle for a £60 Santini H2O jersey and a windproof.

posted by Jon [35 posts]
12th February 2013 - 21:26

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I have an endura stealth , been out in all weather for hours on end, and never got wet on top,
It has side vents and under arm vents if you start to overheat, only wear it with a base layer in all weathers and its nice and warm.
Great fit , good pockets and detail and looks good on and off the bike, all for £75 in the sale,
Normal rip £150

posted by hozza666 [6 posts]
12th February 2013 - 22:10

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Interesting although if the waxy stuff is a coating then doesn't it have the same weakness as DWR in that it will disappear after a few washes and leave you having to reproof it?
For the person that posted about the Endura Stealth - it's cheap because it's not breathable. I have one but rarely use it (basically only if it's sub-zero and I'm on the MTB).
I think I'll stick with a decent softshell + breathable rain jacket for now...

posted by fuzzywuzzy [59 posts]
13th February 2013 - 8:56

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I got one of these as a Christmas present this year, and I've worn it a lot since then in all kind of wintry conditions. Here's what I think...

I'm 6'4" tall and finding long fitting jackets is a REAL problem. Not so with this Rapha stuff. I got the XL size and the sleeves are good and long. Yes, you do get a slight bit more bagginess around the body, but I can live with that. I think the styling is good, and I really like the offset main zip. The collection of pockets is good, I can easily take enough gear to last a full day in the saddle. I got the blue jacket...yes, it's dark, but I'm riding in back lanes mainly so not a big problem for me, and hey you gotta think of the style!

As for the performance for £240 it better be faultless, but it isn't. Sorry Rapha. Firstly, it's supposed to be breathable. If I go out for a very low intensity ride it's OK. But, as soon as you start riding at higher intensity it struggles to cope. I regularly arrive back home with forearms that are soaking wet, the interior of the jacket is clearly wet too. Bear in mind I'm talking about low temperatures here - I've not ridden in anything above 5 degrees in it yet so this indicates a real problem to me. The jacket is perfectly waterproof, rain simply beads on top and runs away. However, I'm pretty certain that this beading also prevents the jacket from breathing. A high intensity ride when it's raining and I'm pretty wet inside the jacket; I think it just stops breathing.

It's a warm jacket despite being a hardshell, and absolutely brilliant at windstopping. This is it's saving grace -at least when your damp inside the jacket the wind is not getting through and making it worse. I have worn it with,the Rapha merino long base layer in zero degrees and I've been comfortable. The windstopping is no doubt helped by the 'hermetically' sealed zipper on the front. That's great, but it's stiff, and is impossible to unzip one-handed when you're riding; again, I'll live with that.

On balance I like it, but I did think it would perform better, and as soon as Spring comes it'll have to go back into the wardrobe as it'll be way too hot.

posted by Progman [1 posts]
13th February 2013 - 11:40

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Fantastic quality jacket but don't be led to believe this is fully breathable - it really isn't. Its waterproofing is excellent but it hasn't got the balance between that and letting the moisture out. I've only done 3 rides in it - each one about 2 hours at 5C degrees - and every time I have returned with really damp arms in particular. I've no doubt there are jackets out there that get a better balance......5/5 for quality and fit; 5/5 for waterproofing; 2/5 for overall functionality.

posted by dominiccarr [2 posts]
23rd December 2013 - 21:48

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