The Rapha Wind Jacket (formerly the Stowaway Jacket) is made from a windproof, water resistant and extremely breathable 100% Nylon fabric, the cut of its jib is classic cycling with a long-cut back for a better fit on the bike and a dropped tail too, the sleeves are tailored and long enough to be stretched in the drops without wrist-gap creeping in.
As befits a jacket that's designed to be ultra-lightweight and easily pocketed the Wind Jacket isn't cluttered with extraneous features. There's a small waterproof-zipped pocket low down on the front, the full-length waterproof front zip is offset and has a light fleece chin guard to prevent chafing as the collar comes up goodly high. Lycra cuffs provide a windproof seal at the wrist but are easy to pull up for temperature modulation and an elastic waistcord only runs along the rear part of the jacket hem with friction locks either end for simple on the fly adjustment. Reflective stripes run down the length of the sleeves both front and back, and they're very reflective, the large Rapha logo on the tail is reflective too. Seams on the shoulders are are taped for improved bearing the brunt when riding into bad weather and when you're all done there's a pink hanging loop for dripping in the kitchen.
Rapha say it's a highly versatile three-season cycling jacket, which makes it perfect for the changeable weather on your standard Sunday ride then, or pretty much any other day of the year. It's always good to have another layer in the back pocket, just in case, even in the middle of Summer, especially in the middle of Summer, where the jacket's pocketability comes in really handy, even if the weather plays nice and it doesn't get used its light weight makes it no bulky burden to be taken on every ride.
As a wind jacket it does exactly what it says it should, protecting from any chill of the breeze/gust/gale with the lycra cuffs, drawstring hem and high tight collar keeping draughts at bay and its breathability making it comfortable from the inside too, with no boil-in-the-bag tendencies even on hefty climbs. A pleasant side effect of the soft nature of the jacket's fabric is that it's silent, combine that with its slight stretch and the body-hugging tailored fit mean that the jacket doesn't rustle like a Tesco bag in a bush or grab at the wind like a needy kite when riding along, it feels a smirking 2mph faster than a noisy flappy jacket when it's pulled on for a chilly descent. That's got to be worth at least £50 of the price right there surely?
Although it's claimed to be merely water resistant it survived 4 hour rides in a selection of rain and drizzle variants without any moisture ingress, so it's certainly more versatile than a simple windproof and other damp-delaying layers that are at best panicky protection from a passing shower.
Aside from the price, the only gripe is with the colour. The grey one we have here seems specifically designed to blend into the tarmac at the low-light vision-compromised times the jacket will be most often used in. The black's not much better and the pink's only going to appeal to a very brave or Rapha-and-proud rider. The white or red of the Women's version of the jacket would be a welcome option. And that price, at more than three times the cost of a basic wind/waterproof and even more than the select offerings by other boutique brands it's a spendy little piece of clothing no matter how good it is. Only when the Wind Jacket has been stuffed unnoticed into a rear pocket for every ride for several years and thankfully saved the day with wind and rain protection a few times and still wants to come out for more will it be deemed worth it. Here's hoping.
A lovely item of clothing that's been expertly tailored and pared down to the essential details. Windproof without flapping about, breathes without breaking into a sweat and more waterproof than its billing it's one of those bits of kit that you're glad you're wearing when it's needed, but never a bother when it's not and hidden back in the pocket, sadly even with the reflective bits the colour is very SMIDSY. And not a little SMICAY (Sorry Mate, I Can't Afford You).
Weight - 158g (Medium, claimed - 165g)
Colours - Grey, Black, Pink
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha Wind Jacket
Size tested: Medium, grey
Tell us what the product 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?
"The Rapha Wind Jacket is designed for temperate cycling conditions. It is ideal for cool morning starts, summer descents and sudden showers. The high-stretch fabric is extremely lightweight and at just 165g (medium size), it packs down small enough to fit into your jersey pocket."
All of that, and well used in less than temperate climates where it was always a useful extra layer for the chilly start or end of rides, and any dark cloud moment in between where it was good to know it was better than just showerproof.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Made of breathable, windproof nylon the jacket packs small enough to fit in a cycling jersey pocket is windproof and water resistant with reflective stripes for better visibility and ergonomic sleeves for enhanced fit.
If it's still going strong in five years the value score may rise a fair bit… but it'll need to shrug of the years and look like new too
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Spot on, wind and more rain resistant than advertised, and fitted to perfection with no annoying flap or crackle.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The fit and the wind/rain resilience.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The colour and the price.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? I'd wait for the sale or for a white one for blokes to appear, then I'd have a long think.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? If they were feeling flush.
About the tester
Age: 42 Height: 180cm Weight: 73kg
I usually ride: It varies as to the season. My best bike is: The one I\'m on at the time
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: road racing, cyclo cross, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Fun
Jo Burt has spent the majority of his life riding bikes, drawing bikes and writing about bikes. When he's not scribbling pictures for the whole gamut of cycling media he writes words about them for road.cc and when he's not doing either of those he's pedaling. Then in whatever spare minutes there are in between he's agonizing over getting his socks, cycling cap and bar-tape to coordinate just so. And is quietly disappointed that yours don't He rides and races road bikes a bit, cyclo-cross bikes a lot and mountainbikes a fair bit too. Would rather be up a mountain.