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Verdict: 
A fantastic lightweight jacket with impressive breathability
Weight: 
188g
Contact: 

The Rapha Pro Team Light weight Shadow Jacket is a very impressive piece of kit for wind protection, waterproofing, packability and breathability, and though it comes at a hefty price it's still cheaper than some rivals.

  • Pros: Very impressive weatherproofing, packable, great breathability
  • Cons: Expensive, two-way zip can be a little fiddly

I tested out the last iteration of the Rapha Shadow kit and I was really impressed with how it held up, but one slight negative was that the material was very thick and meant it tended to crease to strange shapes. I was really interested in seeing how Rapha had fared using the fabric to create a lightweight jacket.

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Well, what was fairly thick is now paper thin. I was initially a little worried about its ruggedness, but after dozens of rides and stuffing it in pockets it still looks as good as when I first took it out of the packet.

Luckily Rapha has managed to reduce the thickness of the material without reducing its effectiveness, and the jacket took everything that the weather could throw at it.

Rapha Pro Team Light weight Shadow Jacket.jpg

Waterproofing comes from using yarns that have already been given a durable water repellent (DWR) treatment, before the entire jacket is treated again once it has been made. Rapha doesn't claim that it's completely waterproof, and only strategic seams have been taped, but I found that it kept everything out regardless of the intensity of the rain. I even used it during a thunderstorm and although the rest of me was drenched, my top half stayed perfectly dry.

Rapha Pro Team Light weight Shadow Jacket - taped seams.jpg

Obviously a key element of a packable jacket is the windproofing, and the jacket is similarly impressive in this area. On several days when the mercury was refusing to rise I used the jacket to keep the bite off and it did it very effectively. Similarly, it was great to pull out of a jersey pocket and put on as I reached the top of a climb to protect me on the descent.

Talking of packability, the jacket folds down small enough to fit into a jersey pocket easily, and there were several rides where it was off and on more than Nigel Farage's political career. It was simple to get on, although the zip is slightly fiddly as it's a two-way design so you have to align the two zip pulls first, making it a little more tricky to do while riding than others.

Rapha Pro Team Light weight Shadow Jacket - double zip.jpg

Breathability is superb, helped by how thin the material is, and I would go as far as saying that this is the most breathable jacket I have ever tested – and I've owned or reviewed 40 or more similar products. (Ashia found the women's version less so in her testing – she thought the breathability was good, but not as impressive as a Sportful windproof).

Rapha has included some nice features on the jacket too, such as reflective elements on the back and front – something that the previous Shadow kit missed.

Rapha Pro Team Light weight Shadow Jacket - rear.jpg

There is also a wind guard/baffle behind the zip, in addition to a zip garage, which kept out wind and rain. On the collar a softer cotton material helps prevent any discomfort on the neck.

Rapha Pro Team Light weight Shadow Jacket - collar.jpg

With an RRP of £200, it's an expensive jacket. However, when you consider how light but also how waterproof and windproof it is, it goes some way to justifying it. It compares favourably to the 7mesh Rebellion Jacket, for example, which comes in a full £80 more. That is made with Gore-Tex Active, but there's barely anything in it when it comes to waterproofing.

You could also compared it to the Endura Pro SL Shell Jacket II that Jack looked at a couple of months ago. The Endura is £35 cheaper, but the Rapha is as waterproof and trumps it for both packability and breathability.

> Buyer's Guide: 21 of the best waterproof cycling jackets

Overall, the Rapha Pro Team Lightweight Shadow Jacket is a great garment; there is no getting around the price, but it's easily one of the best lightweight jackets I have tested. Its breathability combined with weatherproofing is a real indication of the thought put in by Rapha's designers. The price will be higher than many will be prepared to pay, and the zip can be a bit fiddly, but these are minor gripes considering how good this jacket is.

Verdict

A fantastic lightweight jacket with impressive breathability

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

road.cc test report

Make and model: Rapha Pro Team Lightweight Shadow Jacket

Size tested: Medium

Tell us what the jacket 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?

It's a high performance lightweight jacket designed for serious cyclists or road racers.

Rapha says, 'An extremely lightweight, packable layer for wet-weather protection when riding and racing.'

In my opinion this doesn't really do it full justice as Rapha doesn't even mention the breathability!

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?

Rapha lists:

Taped seams in key areas for water resistance

Collar lined with breathable mesh

Grosgrain hanger loop for quick drying

Reflective detailing on the rear

Wrap around reflective armband

Two-way zip

Elasticated hem and cuffs

Nylon 61%

Elastane 39%

Rate the jacket for quality of construction:
 
9/10

Very well made – thin jackets can sometimes be awkward, with things like zips getting caught or seams stretching, but there is no hint of that here.

Rate the jacket for performance:
 
10/10

Fantastic performance; I couldn't ask for any more in terms of weatherproofing or breathability.

Rate the jacket for durability:
 
7/10

I used this almost every day and it didn't get damaged at all, but it is a thin jacket so it warrants a little extra care, and I'd be surprised if it survived a crash.

Rate the jacket for waterproofing based on the manufacturer's rating:
 
8/10

Rapha claims this is not completely waterproof, but in the real world there was nothing that got through; unless you're trying to scuba dive in it you should be fine.

Rate the jacket for breathability based on the manufacturer's rating:
 
10/10

Rapha doesn't give a rating for breathability, but this is the most breathable lightweight jacket I have used.

Rate the jacket for fit:
 
8/10

Plenty of stretch in the fabric means that it sits nicely when riding.

Rate the jacket for sizing:
 
8/10

The medium size I tested fitted as I would expect.

Rate the jacket for weight:
 
8/10

It's not Gore Shakedry light (127g), but it's possibly a bit more durable for it, and 188g for a jacket is still impressive for how weatherproof the jacket is.

Rate the jacket for comfort:
 
8/10

Nice comfort features like elasticated cuffs, a zip barrier, and a soft material around the collar.

Rate the jacket for value:
 
6/10

It's expensive, you can't get around it, but it's £80 less than the 7Mesh and performs just as well.

How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?

Easy, I put it through a wash at 30 degrees a couple of times without it losing its waterproofing or looks.

Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Very well, I was incredibly impressed with how it performed.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket

The breathability is fantastic.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket

The two-way zip can be a little fiddly to join while riding.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on road.cc?

It compares favourably to the 7mesh Rebellion Jacket which comes in a full £80 more expensive. That uses Gore-Tex Active fabric, but I would argue that there's barely anything in it when it comes to waterproofing. The Endura Pro SL Shell Jacket II that Jack looked at a couple of months ago is £35 cheaper, but the Rapha trumps it for both packability and breathability.

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

An excellent jacket that does everything you need a lightweight jacket to. It keeps out the weather, has excellent breathability and packs down small enough to fit easily in a jersey pocket. It's even cheaper than some rivals, too.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 29  Height: 6 ft  Weight:

I usually ride: Cinelli Gazzetta  My best bike is: Cannondale Supersix Evo

I've been riding for: Under 5 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking

George spends his days flitting between writing about data, running business magazines and writing about sports technology. The latter gave him the impetus (excuse) to get even further into the cycling world before taking the dive and starting his own cycling sites and writing for Road.cc. 

When he is not writing about cycling, he is either out on his bike cursing not living in the countryside or boring anybody who will listen about the latest pro peloton/cycling tech/cycling infrastructure projects.  

10 comments

Avatar
Eddy4682 [3 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

This isn't a waterproof jacket.

It may have a very good DWR finish (PFAS based no doubt), but without a membrane or coating it likely won't have a hydrostatic head much more than 1000mm. I'm not saying that it isn't a good garment, but as Rapha quite correctly state on their website, it is "water resistant" rather than waterproof. As such, it's misleading to compare it to the 7Mesh and other waterproof garments. Not sure why they taped the seams either, seems like unneccessary weight and cost for a non-waterproof garment. 

Avatar
Disfunctional_T... [438 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

This jacket does not use any waterproof fabric. It is just fabric which fibers have been coated before weaving with a DWR, and then again after weaving (because the first DWR wasn't good enough). Despite what the reviewer claims, in a heavy rain, I suspect the material will leak heavily because of its low hydrostatic head.

I admit that there is some chance that Rapha has developed the Holy Grail of materials... but if they have, Rapha would be selling it to other companies, and other companies would be lining up to buy the material.

By the way, backpackinglight has the best discussions on the internet about waterproof fabrics. I'm curious how the link to the road.cc review appeared on the Rapha product page for the jacket so quickly. That would indicate the review was coordinated with Rapha.

Avatar
CasperCCC [66 posts] 3 months ago
5 likes

You've got to love someone who hasn't worn a jacket, but who still knows more than the reviewer about how well it performed...

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Organon [321 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

It's grey, the same colour as the sky in Britain, what madness!

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Disfunctional_T... [438 posts] 3 months ago
3 likes
CasperCCC wrote:

You've got to love someone who hasn't worn a jacket, but who still knows more than the reviewer about how well it performed...

Thanks for the compliment, but truth be told, the road.cc reviewers have such a low level of technical knowledge about fabrics that it's pretty easy to know more than them.

The backpackinglight forums have accumulated a lot of knowledge of technical fabrics. There is one commenter there, Richard Nisley, who has testing apparatus to do hydrostatic head and air permeability measurements, plus he takes takes microscope photos.

Also note that the reviewer claimed "I would go as far as saying that this is the most breathable jacket I have ever tested". So is he claiming that this jacket (which he claims is basically waterproof) is more breathable that just a regular woven nylon or polyester jacket without any DWR at all? Or has he never tested regular, run-of-the-mill jackets? As I've mentioned many times before, road.cc needs a technical editor that understand fabric technologies.

Also note that road.cc never seems to do comparison test of products such as jackets. Why do you think that is?

Avatar
MiserableBastard [8 posts] 3 months ago
4 likes

The part of this review that matters is:

"Rapha doesn't claim that it's completely waterproof, and only strategic seams have been taped, but I found that it kept everything out regardless of the intensity of the rain. I even used it during a thunderstorm and although the rest of me was drenched, my top half stayed perfectly dry."

But you guys just keep on wanking away about how much you know about fabrics. I'm sure everyone's really impressed.

Avatar
Stueys [33 posts] 3 months ago
2 likes

You don’t need a fully waterproof fabric for a jacket that’s going to be used for exercise, you’re going to sweat so being fully waterproof is fairly pointless.  What you need is something that is breathable first and will stop you getting soaked.  It’s why jackets like the gabba do well.

Rapha have developed something good with the shadow fabric, it works well.  Whether it’s a better choice than the gore active etc shakedry is probably the question.  Certainly it will be an easier material to make something fit snugly with.

Avatar
don simon fbpe [2989 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

Nice looking jacket.

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Freddy56 [421 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

What is the point of not taping all the seams?

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philhubbard [201 posts] 3 months ago
1 like
Freddy56 wrote:

What is the point of not taping all the seams?

 

Tape doesn't breathe and also the stretchier jacket the more likely the tape is to stetch and split/tear. 

Also, on the waterproofing point, in the UK a garment only has to have a HH of 1500mm to be classed as waterproof. Most DWR fabrics will be higher than this but most brands class it as a showerproof to cover their backs and lower their return rates. 

Also, on the mythical fabric point, people are getting there. From August this year there will be fabrics with a HH of around 10,000mm with an MVRT of around 40,000mm and that should be continuously improving so I would envision within two-three years we can get a 15-20,000mm HH with a 50,000mm MVRT rating, but then people will just complain that it doesn't last very long and it's not cheap enough....