I got very excited, along with probably every other lycra loving lady in the UK, when I heard that Rapha, the Gucci of the cycling world, were bringing out a range of women’s specific clothing. Rapha has long been a name associated with style, quality, and ahem, price, and I was delighted to have a look at the women’s range to see if it came up to the standard of the men’s.
The Stowaway Jacket is one of the three pieces that makes up the small but elegantly formed capsule collection for women. It’s a lightweight wind resistant and water repellant jacket, designed to be shoved in a jersey pocket for when the wind gets up, for descents, or for when the weather deteriorates.
Made from stretch fabric, the Stowaway has a neat contoured fit, with sizing that is spot on what it claims to be, and a flattering a sleek cut. The sleeves are a good length, even when in an aerodynamic position, while the soft elasticated cuffs stop drafts and stay where they should be. Body length is decent too, although particularly tall women may find it just a little short. The dropped tail is nicely shaped to avoid flapping or catching, and there’s a drawcord for further adjustment. All in all the cut is excellent.
Features wise, the full length zip is reversed to have the more water resistant side outwards, while the top of the zip is softly lined and offset to avoid chin/zip pull interaction. The water resistant zip is a nice touch, as is the fact that the front shoulder seams are taped to help keep the worst of the weather out (that’s where rain’ll get you first), but I’d still want to keep this for unexpected showers only, which is all it’s really aimed at. The lightweight water resistant treated fabric is not going to keep out persistent precipitation for very long. The fabric is reasonably breathable, without too much sweat developing. Rapha have managed to make the reflective sleeve stripes look like a cool design detail, as is the reflective Rapha logo at the back, crucial when broadcasting just how cool you are. There’s also a smallish zipped side pocket.
If I had a grumble, it’s that it’s still a bit on the bulky side for squeezing into the rear pocket of the matching women’s jersey, and at 150g, a wee bit heavier than the lightest on the market from the likes of Montane and Golite (125g and sub 100g). But these are only complaints in light of the staggeringly high price for a wind resistant jacket.
It’s an attractive and well-considered jacket, but I’d find it very hard to justify spending this kind of money on a product that others are doing as well for around half the price.
Beautifully cut, well considered and light, but just so incredibly expensive.
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Make and model: Rapha Women\'s Stowaway jacket
Size tested: Red, 12
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?
Designed for variable conditions, ideal for cool morning starts, summer descents and sudden showers.
Excellent protection from the wind and can withstand a shower. Strictly one for sporty rides, with its sleek clean lines.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Wind resistant stretch fabric treated to be water repellent
Front shoulder seams taped to give extra weatherproofing
Front zip reversed so more water repellent face is outwards
Packs small enough to fit into a jersey pocket- just
Reflective stripes on sleeves
Dropped tail with drawcord adjustment.
Neat contoured fit, enhanced by stretch fabric
Offset zip at neck
Zipped side pocket
Flawlessly put together with high quality fabric and components
Breathed well, comfortable to wear and protected well from wind.
The combination of sleek fit, super light fabric and the stretch component puts a lot of strain on seams.
The drawcord area could be a problem zone in the long term, with strain on stitching there too.
Excellent low weight, just not as light as the lightest out there.
Around twice the price of products that perform to a similarly high degree. Difficult to justify in such a simple pared down product, and one that you hope not to be wearing too often!
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Performed admirably in windy, chilly and inclement conditions.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Styling, cut, stretch fabric, breathability.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Just the price.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, very much
Would you consider buying the product? Probably not.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Probably, if they were wealthy. Or were looking for gift ideas for me.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
Extremely well designed, good looking and affective jacket but the price is difficult to justify.
Age: 37 Height: 1.65m Weight: 67kg
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,
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.