The Rapha Women's Hooded Rain Jacket is a high quality, stylish way to keep the rain off while cycling. It's fully waterproof, breathes well, has a very flattering cut and looks the business. It does have a few annoying niggles, which are a little disappointing considering the price, but they don't detract hugely from what is an attractive and very effective jacket.
Pros: Protection from the rain, stylish design, soft-feel fabric
Cons: Stiffness of collar at the rear, no neat way to store the hood or drop-down tail
As you can probably guess from the photos, it's not a jacket for 100-mile sportives or even training rides, it's a round-town, wear-with-civvies-to-the-office/cafe/shops design, and at that it mostly excels.
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The matt finish fabric not only looks good, it has a lovely soft feel to it, which it retains after washing. It's also fully waterproof, with taped seams. To date, not a drop of moisture has got through. I've worn it in the rain, cycling and walking, and it's reassuringly protective.
A large flap covers the main zip, which is water resistant anyway, but again nothing has got through here, or into the two front pockets, which are also zipped and with large flap covers.
I was surprised by how breathable it is too, although for the price you'd hope it would be good. It's not a full-on, max-heart-rate-effort top, but it still needs to deal with the warmth that urban commutes or brisk rides to the cafe can generate. The fabric copes well, aided by tiny vent holes under the arms and your choice of layering for the conditions.
The fit is slim and flattering, and works well on the bike and off. There's plenty of length in the sleeves for when you're riding, so no exposed wrists, and if you need extra protection at the rear, there's a drop-down bright pink tail (with reflective Rapha logo), which poppers into place inside the rear when not needed.
There's room for some layering underneath the jacket, which you'll need on cold days as it's windproof but not insulated. There's no 'flappage' to speak of, though, and the sleeves in particular feel very slim fitting. They end in hidden elasticated but smooth cuffs, which seal out any cold breezes and slip easily into gloves, with the outer fabric forming a flap over the top, ideal for stopping any rain getting into your gloves. Your gloves will need to be quite slim fitting too, though.
Pink reflective strips on each outer cuff are a nice, discreet touch, though the only other reflective (other than the logo on the drop tail) is a centimetre square tag on the rear at the side. Useful, in an 'anything is better than nothing' kind of way.
The hood is a generous size, covering your head well, with a stiffened peak that sits out proud, protecting your face and even your glasses. It's designed to work under rather than over a helmet, but feels a bit restricted for my liking; I'd opt for a waterproof cap and tuck the hood away.
Which brings me to one of a few little irritations: how to tuck the hood away neatly. The simple answer is, you can't. You can roll it and popper it into place with the pink fabric strip that otherwise hangs loose inside the jacket, so the hood doesn't flap around while you ride, but it's not a particularly neat solution.
Similarly, the drop tail. Not the tail itself, which is really useful, but the execution. Held in place with just one popper (and I never trust poppers to last that long), it hangs quite loose either side, though I'm assured it doesn't actually show below the rear hem. But if it's got wet and possibly mucky and you then want to tuck it away, the wet and mucky bit will be held against your clothes. Unless you choose to leave it out, which isn't that fetching. On other Rapha jackets with such a tail you can zip them away into a pocket, which would be a nicer option here.
Another more minor but still slightly irritating point: the zip tags on the pockets are quite chunky, which is a good thing, but can get 'stuck' the wrong way up in the pocket and then be really hard to get hold of and move, especially if you're wearing gloves, and can result in swearing.
And finally, there's the slight irritation of the collar. It has what feels like a 5cm 'stiffener', which you can feel when riding, rubbing against the back of your head and interfering with a ponytail and/or helmet cradle. This is regardless of whether you have the hood rolled up or left loose. Again, it's not a huge problem, but it niggles on a £230 jacket.
> Buyer's Guide: The best casual kit for cycle commuting
Which, I suppose, is the biggest niggle of all: the cost. It's pretty expensive considering it's not a 'high performance' design. But then again, it is a high performance design: it's fully waterproof, doesn't make you all sweaty, and looks lovely when you're off the bike as well as on it. It's not designed for toiling up a French Alp, it's designed to keep you dry and fragrant and looking dapper, and at that it excels.
An excellent jacket in so many ways, but with a few niggles you wouldn't expect for this money
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Make and model: Rapha Womens Hooded Rain Jacket
Tell us what the jacket is for
Rapha says: "Staying smart and dry on the move isn't always easy. The Hooded Rain Jacket is the solution.
"A lightweight, weatherproof jacket for the rigours of the city
"When getting wet isn't an option, the Hooded Rain Jacket will keep you dry. Fusing a modern urban silhouette with many of the features found on our training and racing jackets, the Hooded Rain Jacket uses a lightweight, high-stretch fabric and fully taped internal seams to ensure water and wind resistance.
"The rollout hood is engineered to fit under a bike helmet and will follow with the movement of a rider's head, and the cinch-cords on the hood have self-locking eyelets, allowing for single-handed adjustments. Fold-back hi-vis cuffs boost riding visibility, while the hi-vis, drop-down tail is easily stored in the rear panel. Laser-cut vent-holes under the arms increase airflow, and the main water-resistant Vislon® zip – which is two-way, to allow easy ventilation when required – has a velcro-fastened placket to keep rain and wind at bay. The City-inspired cut is more relaxed than Rapha's other riding jackets, and looks just as good off the bike as it does in the saddle."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Waterproof fabric with taped seams
High-vis and reflective drop tail
Central double-ended waterproof zip
Zip pockets for security
Ergonomic, packable hood, adjustable with one hand
Machine wash – 30C
Wash with like colours
Do not tumble dry
Do not bleach
Do not steam
Do not dry clean
Rate the jacket for quality of construction:
Rate the jacket for performance:
I've ridden (and walked) in heavy showers and persistent drizzle, and all the rain has stayed on the outside.
Rate the jacket for durability:
The superb construction suggests nothing is about to fall apart; the only things I'd worry about are the poppers holding up the rear flap and for keeping the hood rolled up. I'm not sure any clothing I've ever owned with poppers has ever remained intact popper-wise. I'd hope to be proved wrong here, for £230...
Rate the jacket for waterproofing
'Weatherproof' tends to be a term for 'not completely waterproof but right up there' – but the fabric is fully waterproof and I've not got wet in it, riding or walking in the rain.
Rate the jacket for breathability
It's for riding in the city, not a high-performance 100-mile sportive jacket, but breathability is still very good, helped by 16 small holes under each arm to let heat/vapour escape.
Rate the jacket for fit:
It's a really nice cut, slim fitting without being too restrictive; you can certainly get a couple of layers underneath (including a rather nice merino pullover).
Rate the jacket for sizing:
Medium is just right, as expected.
Rate the jacket for weight:
Rate the jacket for comfort:
Though the jacket is beautifully cut and very well made, it falls down on comfort just at the rear of the collar, where it feels like it has a 5cm 'stiffener'. You can feel this when riding, rubbing against the back of your head and interfering with a ponytail and/or helmet cradle. This is regardless of whether you have the hood rolled up or left loose.
Rate the jacket for value:
Pretty excessive, even by Rapha standards, considering it's not a high-performance garment. That said, you can pay just as much for non-performance 'rain' jackets on the high street, which is possibly more the competition here, and you wouldn't have the extra cycling touches.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Machine wash at 30, as with every other piece of sports kit.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It performed really well in most ways, and annoying in some.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
The look/cut. It's a lovely jacket to wear on the bike and off, and it really does keep you dry. The hood is a good size too – not helmet-swallowing (it's designed to fit underneath), but generous with a decent peak.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
The collar/hood design – the stiffness against the back of my head when riding, and the fact that there's no obvious way to stow the hood away neatly.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes
Would you consider buying the jacket? Maybe...
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
I'm slightly stumped by this one. In many ways it's a gorgeous jacket, beautifully designed, superbly made; it looks great, it keeps rain out, and feels lovely... apart from the collar. It's not a huge thing, but it is a niggle. And the fact that you can't tuck it away neatly. I'm also a bit surprised by the tail not having somewhere to be stowed away. The price is hard to swallow anyway, without there being issues, no matter how minor. Performance-wise I'd say it's a 9, but those niggles combined with the steep price suggest a score of 7.
Age: 51 Height: 169cm Weight: size 10-12
I usually ride: Vitus Venon My best bike is: Paulus Quiros
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, sportives, general fitness riding
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