The Rapha Pro Team Insulated Gore-Tex Jacket combines a waterproof Shakedry outer with Polartec Alpha insulation inner to provide incredible warmth and protection from the rain, fending off foul conditions in a way few jackets manage. It's certainly not cheap, but if you are prepared to make the investment it's one of the best warm and waterproof jackets currently going.
Rapha has joined a growing number of clothing brands using Gore-Tex Shakedry, a fabric that is 100 per cent waterproof, highly breathable and lightweight. For this jacket, Rapha has added Polartec Alpha, a synthetic down insulation that offers high levels of warmth with very little weight or bulk, and adequate breathability to avoid the dreaded boil in the bag syndrome. And yes, it's pink!
Those two fabric technologies combine to great effect. This jacket keeps you dry when you're being broadsided by rain, and roasty toasty when you start to lose the feeling in your toes.
It's not just excellent when it's raining either: since the Shakedry is impressively breathable, it does a good service in dry conditions too, extending the range of the jacket and helping to offset the high price. You don't have to only use it when it's raining.
The jacket boasts a useful array of features, the most interesting and possibly controversial is the hood. It has been made by combining Shakedry and Shakedry Stretch, with flapped vents over the ears, and is designed to be worn under a helmet when rain is coming down like stair rods.
Hoods on cycling jackets aren't all that common, and they have pros and cons. For a jacket designed to isolate you from bad weather, it works wonders. When you're being overwhelmed by rain, the hood and tall front collar keep you protected from the elements. Overheating isn't an issue, and you can still hear other road users.
We've had some serious rainfall recently and the hood has been in regular use. It's comfortable under the helmet and helps seal your neck against the ingress of rain. Pull the angled zipper right the way up and you can keep the amount of exposed skin to a minimum.
When it stops raining, you just remove your helmet and push the hood down. It's a shame you can't fold or roll it up for storage, but when it's down it doesn't flap about in the wind – you wouldn't even know it's there.
The tall front collar provides more coverage than most jackets I've tested. I normally wear a neck collar to keep my neck and chin protected from the elements, but didn't need to with the Rapha jacket. I did find it uncomfortable pulling the zipper close up past my mouth and over the nose, though, so most of the time kept it open to my chin.
One complaint I have is that the zip puller doesn't move very freely, and I found it tricky to adjust on the move with one gloved hand.
There are no pockets either; instead, to let you access the pockets of your under layer easily, there are two tall vertical zipped openings. They work well without gloves, but with big winter gloves on it's a tricky mission to undo the zipper and get inside your pockets while you're moving. A small, easily accessed zipped pocket for food would have been nice, but I appreciate adding complexity to a waterproof jacket invites potential weaknesses with more seams required, not to mention the inevitable price increase.
Also around the back is a reflective tab and a large panel of Shakedry stretch fabric to ensure a good fit around the waist and over overstuffed pockets.
This Shakedry Stretch fabric is also cleverly used in the long zipped expandable cuffs: you can wrap the cuff tightly over your gloves to keep out the draughts, or use it to regulate the temperature if you do warm up.
On a cold winter ride, it's a seriously warm jacket, so much so that it might require you to rethink your layering strategy. Rapha quotes a temperature range of between -1 and 10°C. That is just a guide and everyone will find a different set of extremes depending on factors like whether you run hot or cold and the intensity of the riding.
I found it best when the temperature was hovering around 5°C, there was a cold wind and the rain was coming down. With a short sleeve baselayer and long sleeve jersey, pockets stuffed with ride essentials, the jacket kept me comfortably warm and dry with no hint of overheating.
Faced with warmer moist weather, I've paired it with a summer baselayer and short sleeve jersey (for the pockets); that's allowed the jacket to perform as the temperature has pushed into double figures. It's also possible to just pair it with a long sleeve baselayer, but that does present the problem of where to stuff ride essentials.
As I said earlier, you don't need to save it for rainy days. I've used it many times on dry, cold and crisp morning rides and it's provided good warmth, and because the fabrics used offer such good breathability, overheating hasn't been an issue.
In many ways, it makes dressing for a winter ride easy. Whatever the weather, it'll look after you. If it's the only jacket you had, it would look after you very well.
It could easily replace a separate Shakedry jacket and a long sleeve mid-layer, and priced against Rapha alternatives the Pro Team Insulated Gore-Tex Jacket comes out a bit cheaper.
However, it does remove some of the versatility of having a standalone waterproof like Rapha's regular Pro Team Lightweight Gore-Tex jacket, which can be paired with different layers to get the right insulation you need for every ride – and removed when it's not raining.
The insulated jacket isn't at all packable, either. It's very much designed to be worn for the whole ride, start to finish. If that works for you, it's great, but get your layering wrong and you're stuck with it.
It's also quite a bulky jacket compared to wearing a Shakedry jacket over a long sleeve jersey. It's not heavy, just quite 'pouffy', I guess.
Durability has been good, and I have no concerns. I've used it for long road rides in sustained heavy rain, in dry and windy weather, and I've got it covered in mud on my regular off-road exploring rides testing gravel bikes. I've even been bashing along overgrown paths and through hedges, and there are no visible signs of wear and tear. Rapha advises against wearing a backpack – as does Gore – but the few times I've ignored that advice hasn't resulted in any immediate damage.
It's easy to wash on a regular machine cycle and doesn't need any special care; the Shakedry fabric has no DWR coating so doesn't fade with use and washes.
Although the Rapha insulated jacket is expensive, it's the same as its most obvious rival, the Gore C5 1985 Gore-Tex Shakedry Insulated jacket I tested last winter. That also combines a Shakedry waterproof fabric with a Polartec Alpha insulation layer, but is a more traditional style jacket with a regular collar and no hood. If you like the Rapha jacket but are put off by the hood, I can recommend the Gore.
If you want a waterproof jacket without the insulation, the Rapha Pro Team Lightweight Gore-Tex jacket uses the same excellent Shakedry fabric and costs £220.
Overall, if you want just one jacket that will keep you warm and dry through a wide range of typical winter conditions and are willing to invest some serious cash, the Rapha Pro Team Insulated Gore-Tex Jacket is highly impressive and lives up to its bill of being 'the ultimate waterproof jacket for the coldest, wettest conditions'.
Eye-watering price but it's toasty warm and totally waterproof for the foulest weather
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha Pro Team Insulated 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: "The Pro Team Insulated GORE-TEX Jacket was created for supreme protection when riding in the worst weather conditions. Its unique combination of fabric technologies and low-profile storm hood are designed to keep you warm and dry on rides that start and finish in cold, wet weather.
"The first line of defence is a waterproof shell made with GORE-TEX SHAKEDRY™, a completely waterproof and highly breathable material reinforced with fully sealed seams. With the membrane as the outer surface, water simply beads and runs off. No saturated face fabric and no chill factor. Inside, the jacket is fully lined with Polartec Alpha® insulation – hydrophobic, extremely warm but low-volume and lightweight. The storm hood, made with waterproof and flexible GORE-TEX Stretch™ material, eliminates exposed skin and protects the face while allowing for range of movement during intense efforts. An angled zip prevents irritation at the chin. The same fabric features on the lower back for a stretchy fit over pockets and at the cuffs for a stormproof seal. Fully zipped up, protection from the elements is assured, but not at the cost of breathability. All three fabrics efficiently allow excess heat and moisture to escape and vents on the side of the hood aid hearing and peripheral awareness.
"It was once said, in cycling, there is no such thing as bad weather – just the wrong clothing. With the Pro Team Insulated GORE-TEX Jacket, there is no such thing as bad weather."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Rapha lists these details:
Waterproof, two-way AquaGuard zip
Signature Pro Team placket with double velcro fastening
Two zips on lower back for access to jersey pockets
High-stretch, waterproof lower back panel for snug fit
Zipped sleeves for tight fit over winter gloves
Bonded edges on storm hood to prevent rubbing against the face
Reflective Pro Team decals
Storm hood side vents to aid hearing and temperature regulation
Reinforced zip guard at hem to protect bib shorts
Hanger loop inside collar
Quick-drying waterproof fabric and insulation
Not to be worn with a backpack
If you want warm and dry, this jacket delivers.
Shakedry isn't the toughest fabric but I've not had any issues with it at all.
Doesn't get more waterproof than this.
It's very breathable.
Fit is very good; it's Pro Team sizing so might come up small for some.
The pink Alpha insulation is comfortable next to the skin and the fit of the jacket ensures it's comfortable when riding.
This is the tricky bit – there's no getting away from the big price tag. If you look at it as the price of a standalone Shakedry jacket and long sleeve jersey then it could actually be cheaper, but it still represents a serious investment. How serious are you about riding in the rain and cold?
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Goes in a regular wash just fine.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Keeps you warm and dry.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
Rain protection and warmth all wrapped up in one jacket.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
Limits versatility and no pockets.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's one of the most expensive jackets we've tested, and it's about £100 more than a regular Shakedry jacket on its own.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes
Would you consider buying the jacket? Maybe
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? The right one, yes.
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's seriously expensive but the performance is seriously impressive, so if you can justify it you won't be disappointed.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.