With the British weather turning rapidly, the Rapha Women's Core Winter Jacket earned numerous compliments from my riding mates every time I headed out to test it, and they were certainly well deserved.
Inside, the jacket is lovely and fleecy. It lost a little of its softness after a few washes, which isn't hugely surprising, but remains very comfortable. On warmer days (up to around 10 degrees), the fleece lining means the jacket is soft against the skin and comfortable to wear with nothing underneath. With a couple of layers underneath, I was still toasty warm on frosty early morning rides and commutes.
Three-layer laminate front panels keep out the wind and rain while the back and underside of the arm panels are made from a stretchy fabric offering excellent fit and comfort. Rapha says that the front panels offer both wind and water resistance; I'd say they do more than this and are fairly waterproof in all but heavy rain. However, the back of the jacket, while highly breathable, won't keep out anything more than a light shower.
I found the jacket to be true to the Rapha size guide, not at all restrictive and a nicely cut, feminine fit. The ribbed cuffs around the wrists and collar are particularly comfortable and the wrist cuffs stay in place well without being too tight.
The jacket features the standard three rear pockets you'd expect, along with a fourth zipped valuables pocket. The main pockets are particularly large, leaving room to carry plenty of food and spares on long rides. I did find that because they're quite deep, the pockets sit fairly high on my back and are more difficult to reach into than most jerseys or jackets. Not a major issue, but if you already struggle to reach into your pockets while riding, you might have trouble with this one. The zipped pocket is really well sized, large enough for my smartphone, a small purse and keys.
The jacket is available in three colours: black, pink, or the light blue I tested. Although I like the colour, I thought it was a bit pale for a winter jacket which is bound to get splattered with mud on winter rides. However, since I enjoyed testing it so much that I am now considering buying the jacket in pink, it isn't really much of an issue...
Rapha has added a handful of extra details to help set the Core jacket apart. It features a couple of subtle Rapha logos on the sleeve and rear pockets, and reflective strips on the sleeves. The base hem has a wide rubber gripper around the rear which keeps the jacket securely in place when riding.
As part of Rapha's considerably more affordable Core collection, the jacket has an RRP of £120 – a whopping £140 cheaper than Rapha's Classic Winter jacket (review to come). I'd say it's a very reasonable price for a really good quality and extremely comfortable winter jacket. If that still sounds a bit pricey, the dhb Aeron range is worth checking out, in particular the Rain Defence Long Sleeved Jersey which isn't quite as warm but reviewed very well.
On the whole, though, there is little not to love about this fleecy, warm winter jacket from Rapha's more affordable Core range.
A warm, good looking jacket, great for riding in single figure temperatures
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha Women's Core Winter Jacket
Size tested: Small
Tell us what the jacket is for
Rapha says: "The Core range is focussed on doing the basics brilliantly, so the Winter Jacket combines a weather-resistant, multi-layer laminate front section with a breathable back to let excess heat escape. The result is a jacket that keeps wind and rain at bay, allowing you to concentrate on laying the foundations for the summer ahead. Available in four colours, it is finished with reflective details on the sleeves to provide additional visibility and a deep cut silicon gripper at the waist to keep everything in place. Three large pockets in the rear provide room for tools, spares and additional clothing, and a zippered valuables pocket keeps cash and keys safe."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Three-layer laminate front to offer wind and water resistance
Stretch fabric rear to allow heat to escape
Three rear pockets provide ample room for tools, spares and food
A zippered pocket provides a safe space for valuables
Subtle Rapha branding is found in the top stitch arm band
A chin guard ensures a close and comfortable fit
Feels just as top quality as any Rapha garment I've worn.
Front panels are extremely waterproof, but the rear won't keep out much more than drizzle.
Lovely, feminine fit with no excess material anywhere and not at all restrictive.
Came up true to size.
For a winter jacket, it certainly doesn't feel excessively weighty.
Lovely and fleecy inside, nice wrist cuffs and really comfortable to ride in.
£120 isn't cheap, but it's certainly reasonable for a jacket of this quality.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very easy, washed well on a 30-degree cycle and maintained its shape and softness.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Really well – very comfortable and warm on cold, dry winter days.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
Fleecy inside and lovely fit.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
Nothing major, but if I was being picky then the pockets come up a little high and can be awkward to reach.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes
Would you consider buying the jacket? Yes
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Very good for dry, cold days, and you get all the Rapha comfort and quality at a much more affordable price.
About the tester
I usually ride: Planet X London Road My best bike is: Bowman Palace:R
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, commuting, club rides, track
Ashia is a Maths student at the University of Bath and has been riding and racing bikes for the past 6 years after a track taster session at her local velodrome had her hooked. Most weekends, she can be found out racing, be it track, road, criteriums, time trials, triathlons, or cyclocross. Whilst she is fiercely competitive and loves to race, she is still on the look out for anyone hiring a "full time cafe rider" when she graduates.