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Rapha says the Classic Winter Gore-Tex Jacket is 'for rides that begin and end in challenging conditions' – the days when you know it's going to be awful so you really don't want to roll the wheel out the door. With the addition of this jacket to your winter layering system, you'll be more likely to head out and endure the worst weather days: it is impervious to the harshest winter conditions.
The water- and wind-resistant jacket is an ideal top layer that is well shaped, and comes with sufficient room for pairing with warmer clothing underneath. There's no gap between the jacket and gloves (even ones that have a short cuff) thanks to Rapha's two-layer design here.
Although a zipped pocket is a welcome inclusion, I would have preferred it to be on the back instead of the front. The rear pockets could also do with being a little deeper, but the width is really useful for packing lots in – and the fact that it even has pockets is better than some waterproof options out there.
Rapha's winter jacket features a three-layer Gore-Tex fabric from Gore's Infinium range and this performs fantastically at keeping out absolutely all of the elements. No problems at all with rain reaching the inside and it blocked out the wind completely.
A high cut front has been paired with a dropped tail for a fit that suits an aggressive riding position. The fabric doesn't conform to your body shape but the well-designed shape keeps it close and it wasn't flapping around.
For an even flusher finish around the waist, the adjustable drawcord at the hem was easy to use for minor tinkering. There is an ever so slight stretch to the material, which meant I didn't feel restricted, even when sprinting out the saddle.
Up top, the raised collar has a fleecy lining that feels soft against the skin and kept the chill off my neck.
But the cold-to-touch feel of the fabric inside the main body of the jacket isn't the cosiest, so I paired it with a long sleeve base layer.
By including only two rear pockets, they are both roomy, so I found it unusually easy to take food and bits out while wearing winter gloves. For any water that creeps in, a small hole in each allows for it to drip out.
The entrance is also dipped slightly at each side, so the angle you swing your arm round to get in when riding is catered for nicely. But although each pocket is wide, they are not very deep. A medium size smartphone (15.5cm tall by 7.5cm wide), in even the thinnest waterproof sleeve, pokes out the top which feels a little disconcerting – even if zero problems arose from this.
For essentials, an Aquaguard zipped pocket has been placed on the front, on the right side just under the boobs. With its stretchy interior, a smartphone can be squeezed in but it's a bit awkward slipping this in and out. I also found the weight of a phone at the front of the jacket can make it sit slightly lopsided. Storing a lighter card wallet and some notes proved to be a better use of this water-free space.
At the cuffs, the jacket splits into two layers for easy pairing with gloves. The extra inner high-stretch layer fits inside the entrance of your gloves, preventing an annoying bare skin ridge, while the outside of the jacket goes over the top, stopping any rain from dripping down into your gloves. Rapha promises this forms an 'airtight seal' and I'd have to say my wrists remained warm, comfy and dry on long rides.
On days when you misjudge how miserable the weather is, with the sun making an appearance and you start to boil up, in a size small I found I could roll the jacket up and fit it (just about) in a jersey pocket. That said, you do need to roll it up tightly.
Alongside this bright orange shade, there's a dark navy option. With both, reflective trim has been placed on the shoulders, sleeve ends and around the front pocket zip, as well as thicker strips between the two rear pockets and on the left armband.
For a pretty hefty £270, there's no doubt this is expensive compared to other jackets out there. Under the £200 mark, you could get the Showers Pass Elite 2.1 jacket that was given a 10/10 for its waterproofness and breathability. Lusso's Aqua Repel V2 Jacket is cheaper again at £134.99 and has a racy cut paired with good waterproof and windproof qualities.
Overall, the Rapha Women's Classic Winter Gore-Tex Jacket is perfect for use on days when it's constantly chucking it down. I found it never let any water in and definitely blocked the wind. How often you want to go out in these kinds of conditions probably dictates whether or not it's worth the considerable price tag for you.
Excellent wind and rain defence on cold rides with wide, accessible pockets making fuelling easy
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha Women's Classic Winter Gore-Tex Jacket
Size tested: Small
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 Classic Winter Jacket is designed to help you enjoy the winter months, rather than enduring them. For rides that begin and end in challenging conditions, it's made using a wind- and water-resistant, three-layer GORE-TEX fabric from the INFINIUM™ range that balances protection from the elements with excellent breathability and durability. Designed to be used in coldest of winter temperatures as part of a layering system, the jacket is fitted to allow space for a jersey and base layer beneath, while high-stretch storm cuffs form an airtight seal around gloves."
I'd say it's a very capable jacket that forms an essential part of a layering system that will help get you out the door on the miserablest days.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
GORE-TEX INFINIUM™ fabric technology
Water- and wind-resistant fabric with comfortable stretch
Two-way zip for easy access to pockets and extra ventilation
High-stretch storm cuffs form airtight seal around gloves
Adjustable hem and raised collar keep the heat locked in
Two rear pockets provide easy access for gloved hands
Front essentials pocket with Aquaguard zip
Reflective trims throughout for added visibility in low light
Very well made with robust zips and strong stitching throughout.
Completely wind- and water-resistant with easy access pockets.
Early days, but the high-quality construction gives no concerns.
No issue with water getting in.
Rapha claims the jacket has "excellent breathability". I wouldn't say it's quite that good, as on mild winter days when putting some effort in it gets a little sweaty. But impressive for the waterproofing and windproofing the jacket provides.
Rapha says, "designed to be used in the coldest of winter temperatures as part of a layering system, the jacket is fitted to allow space for a jersey and base layer beneath". There was room to do just that, without it being tight and restrictive.
Cushioning collar around the neck and soft elasticated material around the wrists which plays very nicely with gloves. But the rest of the material feels cold against the skin.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
No problems. Can take 40 degree washes.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, the Rapha Women's Classic Winter Gore-Tex Jacket is a very capable jacket that has made me more inclined to roll my bike out the door when the forecast is for rain all day long. I've been perfectly comfortable wearing it for harder intervals, as well as longer days in the saddle.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
Easy access wide pockets and sleeves that cooperate well with gloves.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
Lack of depth in the pockets.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes
Would you consider buying the jacket? Yes, if on a discount.
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's very well made, holds out the rain and wind, and is very practical. I would have preferred a zipped pocket on the back and for the pockets to be deeper, and it's also very expensive, but it is exceptionally good when it's filthy out.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road bike 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, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, Gravel riding, indoor turbo and rollers, track