The Rapha Women's Pro Team Lightweight Gore-Tex Jacket is everything a serious road cyclist could want from a rain jacket: it's lightweight, packable, breathable, windproof and 100 per cent waterproof. It carries a high price tag but you really do get what you pay for: quality and performance. Let's hope it stands the test of time.
- Pros: Exceptional waterproofing; beats other Shakedry jackets price-wise
- Cons: Still expensive despite being 'cheapest'; flaps over zip
I got my hands on this early September when we were treated to a week of Indian summer, and all I did was wish for rain. A short time later it arrived, and since then we've had absolutely vile, unpredictable weather – perfect. The jacket has been tested to the hilt.
Rapha's teaming up with Gore has produced a top-performing, race-cut jacket with superb Shakedry technology. Put simply, this jacket does what it claims to and the cut is spot on for the serious roadie.
Fit and comfort
The Pro Team title is a giveaway to the cut. It's a snug fit, designed to perform at its best on a road bike, in a race position. I found it spot on. I come in at a small on Rapha's sizing chart for chest and hips, and just into the medium bracket waist-wise. I have a medium on test. (It's not me in the photos.) On the bike the fit and cut is perfect. There is sufficient room for a decent layer under it without it feeling in any way restrictive. If you are investing, it's worth noting that there is no stretch or give in the jacket. If you like a slightly looser fit, size up.
The sleeves are a good length, even down on the drops, and the cuffs very snug. I gave up trying to get the jacket off with the sleeves the right way round. The cuffs are so snug they need to be pulled off over my rather large hands, turning inside out, rather than teased over.
The neckline is slightly raised to keep out draughts and is lined for comfort. It doesn't irritate at all. There's a handy hanging loop too – something not every manufacturer includes.
The rear hem is elasticated and the jacket thoughtfully cut to allow for pocket bulge from a jersey under it. The tail here offers great coverage – you're not short changed – and the elastic holds it firmly in place.
I've pretty much conveyed what I think about this already. It's brilliant. Water really does just keep beading and rolling, however heavy it is and regardless of the duration. Since the cut is just right, its technical excellence is allowed to do exactly what it should, keep your upper half completely dry.
The jacket is the most breathable that I have ever ridden with. I never found myself rushing to remove it as soon as the rain had stopped – I wasn't cooking inside it. In fact, since it's windproof too, I frequently opted to leave it on even when it was obvious the rain was over and done with, purely for the added protection against the northerlies that seem to be more frequent as we approach winter.
Being able to get a jacket on and zipped up while on the go is important to me, I hate stopping. The Pro Team isn't the easiest zipper, both for getting up and down while riding. Since the zip itself is water-tight, it's quite stiff. The rather rigid flap that Rapha has added over the zip can interfere with the smooth-running of it too. Although the flap may soften over time, it's strange that it's there at all given that the zip can do the job on its own. This was honestly my only niggle with the jacket.
The zip is two-way. This initially caused me problems but, after getting into the habit of holding the jacket and not the lower zipper when zipping up, I quickly learned to appreciate it being two-way. It significantly eases access to rear pockets and can be used to create a little airflow if you are starting to feel warm.
Another very appealing feature of the jacket is its weight, and the size it packs down to; both negligible when you consider the protection it provides. While Rapha has incorporated a pack-away pouch on the interior, I never made much use of it. It rolls up and fits in a rear pocket without any trouble, and it's quicker to do this on the move than faff with a pouch.
Care and durability
I've owned Gore-Tex waterproofs that have, over time, begun to lose their effectiveness. The theory is that this will never happen with Shakedry. It's been through the wash several times and has continued to perform as on day one. I am keen to see if this claim is genuine in practice. I know people who've owned Gore Shakedry jackets for over a year and say they're still doing exactly what they should, so it looks promising.
As with Gore on its website, Rapha does state that you shouldn't use it with a rucksack. I reckon, if you're spending £220, it's a good idea to follow any care advice that might prolong the lifetime of the jacket.
Although that suggests Shakedry is a little delicate, and I suspect it's not going to come out on top after an encounter with the tarmac, I was quite surprised that the sleeve came away unharmed from a tangle with a bramble. I whipped off the sleeve rather enthusiastically to get the cuff over my glove and it landed on a prickly branch! Admittedly, I was careful when trying to extract it, but it came away completely unharmed. Maybe it's tougher than it seems.
If you are looking at a race-fit rain jacket with this level of protection, you have to compare it to Gore's own. Tass tested (and loved) the C7 Shakedry Viz Jacket. For 20 quid more (yes, more than Rapha) you get some colour and no zip flap, though the additional colour section isn't Shakedry.
If you want a more relaxed fit you're going to have to do some more saving: Gore's C5 Jacket is now £280.
A cheaper option worth a look is Sportful's Women's Hot Pack NoRain jacket – not as breathable, but a saving of 80 quid.
On the face of it, the price tag stings, but ultimately this performs. I am not one for Zwift or turbo training, I ride because I love being on my bike outside and am willing to fork out good money on kit that is proven to work; while rain doesn't stop me, if I can keep myself dry with decent kit, I'll invest. This jacket is most definitely worth the investment – but look after it.
Outstanding – the hype is all justified: 100% waterproofing, weighs next to nothing, packable and breathable
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha Women's Pro Team Lightweight Gore-Tex 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?
Rapha says: "A superlight, packable and breathable waterproof shell for protection in wet weather.
"The Pro Team Lightweight GORE-TEX Jacket combines durably waterproof SHAKEDRY™ fabric with a new, streamlined fit to create a protective, packable layer for riding in wet weather. With the membrane as the outer surface of the jacket's two-layer laminated material, water simply beads and runs off. No saturated face fabric, no chilling effect and minimal added weight. Every seam is lined and each of the jacket's openings carefully engineered for complete waterproof protection. Lightweight, elasticated binding at the hem and cuffs create a snug fit while the raised collar eliminates draft and is lined for comfort against the neck. With protection from the elements assured, the highly breathable fabric also allows body heat and moisture to escape, meaning you can work hard in the rain without overheating. Should your efforts be rewarded with brighter skies, half a jersey pocket will suffice to stow the jacket away. At just 49gsm, the fabric has an extremely low pack volume. Once you're back home and out of the storm, hang the jacket using its integrated hanger loop. It'll be dry in quick time, ready for the next ride."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Rapha lists these features:
-Waterproof AquaGuard zip
-Signature Pro Team placket with velcro fastening
-Reinforced zip guard at hem to protect bib shorts
-Sweat-wicking lining inside raised collar
-Integrated pack pouch inside right side panel
-Bonded cuffs designed to sit snugly on top of gloves
nb. Not to be worn with a backpack
You get what you pay for. Excellent.
Best I've ever used.
You sense it needs looking after, not that you wouldn't look after something that has just cost you £220. I did accidentally allow it to encounter a bramble and surprisingly extricated it unscathed – maybe it's tougher than it actually feels. The real test will be time.
Simply 100% waterproof.
The best I've experienced in terms of achieving a decent level of breathability with something that is 100% waterproof.
Brilliant female cut with a decent tail at the rear. Sleeve length and collar were spot on for me.
I normally wear a medium and Rapha's medium fitted well. I had room for thick winter layers, making it slightly more roomy when teamed with a lightweight jersey and arm warmers.
Beats the only other race-cut Shakedry garments out there. Be interesting to see if there are more collaborations and an ensuing 'price-war'.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very easy. Doesn't affect performance at all.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Outstanding at keeping you dry on a road bike.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
Packable and lightweight. Excellent protection from rain.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
Flap over zip.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes
Would you consider buying the jacket? Yes
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Yes, if they are a serious roadie who simply wants to get out in any weather.
Use this box to explain your overall score
Pinnacle of waterproofing with a cut that's spot on for the keenest of road cyclists.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road My best bike is: Carbon road.
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, getting to grips with off-roading too!
Emma’s first encounters with a road bike were in between swimming and running. Soon after competing for GB in the World Age Group Triathlon Championships in Edmonton in 2001 she saw the light and decided to focus on cycling.
After a couple of half decent UK road seasons racing for Leisure Lakes, she went out to Belgium to sample the racing there and spent two years with Lotto-Belisol Ladies team, racing alongside the likes of Sara Carrigan, Grace Verbeke, Rochelle Gilmore and Lizzie Deignan. Emma moved from Lotto-Belisol to Dutch team Redsun, then a new Belgian team of primarily developing riders, where there was less pressure, an opportunity to share her experience and help build a whole new team; a nice way to spend her final years of professional racing.
Since retiring Emma has returned to teaching. When not coercing kids to do maths, she is invariably out on two wheels. In addition to the daily commute, Emma still enjoys getting out on her road bike and having her legs ripped off on the local club rides and chain gangs. She has also developed an addiction to touring, with destinations including Iceland, Georgia and Albania, to mention just a few. There have also been rare sightings of Emma off-road on a mountain bike…