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The Rapha Men's Classic Gilet is a good quality design that offers impressive protection from the elements and fits easily in most pockets.
Testing this in early summer, the gilet provides very effective protection on cold mornings thanks to its windproofing. I often wore it with a pair of arm warmers and felt comfortable enough that I would happily use this for all-day rides in autumn and spring too.
The impressive fit also means you don't really feel any wind coming in through the armholes – something that baggier or less-well-fitted gilets can suffer from.
Once the temperatures begin to rise, removing it and shoving it in a jersey pocket is a simple exercise. It rolls up to an easily manageable size, and sat comfortably in various jersey pockets I tried it in.
When you need to wear it, it's easy to pull on, with a high-quality zip that doesn't catch or snag. A nice touch is that the zip is off-centre, so it doesn't interfere with your neck or chin if you have it done right up.
The gilet has a water-resistant coating, and water simply beads off. Okay, you wouldn't want to wear this in a torrential downpour, but in light to moderate rain I found it worked well. The fit also means there isn't any noticeable bunching or folding, which helps the rain to run off without pooling, and it has a longer back which helps protect from road spray. You can also tighten or loosen the bottom with pullcords, making it as weatherproof as possible.
Breathability is good, thanks in part to the mesh strip that runs up the majority of the back and allows any heat build-up to escape quickly. The main material also seems fairly breathable while remaining windproof.
At the back Rapha has included a couple of decent sized pockets, big enough to hold anything that I needed to be close at hand. There's also a small zipped pocket at the front, specifically for keys, which is handy for keeping them secure and not jingling around – and hopefully in an area where you're unlikely to fall on them if you came off.
Rapha has also included high-vis piping down the front and back, and a large reflective logo on the small of the back, to help other road users see you in low light conditions.
At £100, the gilet is at the expensive end of the market. It's the same price as the dhb Aeron Rain Defence that Steve tested recently, but the Endura Pro SL Lite Gilet II that I reviewed last year is £10 less and offers broadly the same quality, though without some of the neat design touches like the off-centre zip and it isn't quite as good on the breathability front.
The Chapeau Club Gilet Stripe that Adam tested in January is also £10 less, but again lacks some of the design flair and innovation offered by the Rapha Classic.
All in all, this is a very good gilet. It's packable, windproof and breathable, and something I was more than happy to be wearing in everything except torrential downpours. It's pricier than some, but aside from that there isn't anything to say against it – as long as you like the colour, as it's the only one available.
Dependable, packable, and protective gilet that is perfect for changeable conditions
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha Men's Classic Gilet
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Rapha says, 'A windproof, water-resistant and packable gilet for changeable conditions.'
It's designed for changeable weather, so it can be taken off and put on easily, while also being simple to pack away in a jersey pocket.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Lightweight fabric with durable water-resistant coating
Secure zipped pocket for house keys
Reflective Rapha logo and piping for visibility
Cut long at the back for on-bike position
Offset full-length zip to avoid irritation
A very well made gilet.
It kept me warm and dry in changeable conditions, and packed down small enough to fit easily in a jersey pocket.
Seems well made and didn't show any signs of wear despite being stuffed in a jersey pocket multiple times.
Fit was good, providing enough give to fit most body shapes while remaining relatively fold- and crease-free.
I am a medium or large in most kit and this medium came up exactly as it should.
Light enough that it doesn't weigh you down, whether it's on the shoulders or in the pocket.
Very comfortable thanks to the adjustable bottom, microfibre at the neck, and decent stretch in the fabric.
At £100 it's pricey compared with most, but it is very good.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Easy, I stuck it in at 30 without any issues.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It performed well, it offered good protection when it was on, and packed down small to fit in a pocket.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
I wouldn't say one feature alone stands out, but the fact that it does everything you need it to with minimal fuss.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing springs to mine.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Both the Endura Pro SL Lite Gilet II that I reviewed last year and the Chapeau Club Gilet Stripe Adam looked at in January are £10 less. dhb's Aeron Rain Defence Gilet is also £100, but as Steve pointed out in his review, you can get good options from the likes of Lusso and Proviz for around £60-£65.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's very good: it packs down small in the pocket, and keeps out the cold and rain when worn. It is towards the more expensive end of the market, but if you're willing to make the investment you won't be disappointed.
About the tester
I usually ride: CAAD13 My best bike is: Cannondale Supersix Evo
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: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed,
George is the host of the road.cc podcast and has been writing for road.cc since 2014. He has reviewed everything from a saddle with a shark fin through to a set of glasses with a HUD and everything in between.
Although, ironically, spending more time writing and talking about cycling than on the bike nowadays, he still manages to do a couple of decent rides every week on his ever changing number of bikes.