The Rapha Trail Windblock jersey is the brand’s windproof winter riding jersey.
Although the brand is relatively new to the mountain bike market, it’s so far impressed me with the products it has launched.
The high price of the Trail Windblock jersey did have me a little concerned initially, but I really like the idea of a jersey with windstopper panels (I’m a big fan of Gore’s WindStopper baselayers).
Why should you care about winter jerseys such as this one? Well, layering up is all good and well, but in such a dynamic sport as mountain biking, where you’re steaming hot one minute then freezing cold the next, getting that layering right is never easy.
Being able to keep it simple and ditch the jacket (but have it close by in case the heavens open up) on those colder days, leaving it to a thicker jersey to help keep you warm is a really appealing concept.
But just how well do jerseys such as Rapha’s Trail Windblock work?
Rapha Trail Windblock jersey details
Rapha uses its Performance Merino Off Road wool blend to construct the main body of the Trail Windblock jersey. This is then coupled with a windproof and tear-resistant panel across the front, designed to help keep the worst of the cold wind out.
To create the sleeves, Rapha has used a durable nylon fabric that it claims to be snag-resistant and hard-wearing. This means the sleeves don’t have quite the same soft touch against the skin as the body of the jersey does.
The relatively deep cuffs, however, feature a softer, elasticated fabric, which is both nice against the skin and doesn’t irritate.
As with the other products in its Trail range, Rapha includes a small repair kit to fix minor tears at home and get you back on the trail quickly. Anything more serious can be dealt with via Rapha’s free repair service.
Rapha Trail Windblock jersey performance
How we tested winter jerseys
Winter jerseys such as this one from Rapha need to perform in a wide variety of conditions. This is why I’ve worn the Trail Windblock in a real mix of weather and temperatures.
In a bid to get a good impression of performance, I rode in everything from cold windy days through to muggier days that were interspersed with the occasional shower.
And of course, living in the UK also means there were those days that included all four seasons, starting out cold and getting wet before the sun finally came out and warmed things up.
I tested the Trail Windblock against five other similarly intended jerseys, too, riding them back-to-back to pick up on each one’s pros and cons.
During testing, I wore the same short-sleeve baselayer throughout, though on milder days I ditched that and just wore the jerseys.
Also on test
- Altura Esker Trail
- Madison Zenith Thermal
- Scott Trail Storm
- Troy Lee Designs Skyline Chill
There’s no getting away from just how pricey the Rapha Trail Windblock jersey is, with some great winter jerseys costing about half as much. But does that extra cash buy you more in terms of performance?
Well, for a start, it’s important to note just how well the Trail Windblock fitted me.
At 172cm (5ft 8in), with a long torso relative to my legs, I had no issues with coverage. There was plenty of length in the arms and more than enough through the body (thanks in part to the dropped rear hem) to keep me covered when seated on the bike.
While the cut is relaxed, it’s not as baggy as some, meaning there’s no excess material left flapping about when the speed (or wind) picks up.
I also really like the fact that it’s not too thick or heavy, as some winter jerseys can be. While I was initially worried that this would limit the temperature range it would work in, I was quickly proven wrong.
Although you might not feel quite as warm in the Trail Windblock as some other jerseys, it quickly heats up when you get moving and, most importantly, does a great job of keeping the cold out.
The close-fitting neck helps to keep drafts from sneaking inside the jersey, but isn’t so tight as to make it feel restrictive or claustrophobic.
While the inside of the main body of the jersey is really soft to touch, the sleeves are a little noisier and don’t feel instantly snug and warm.
The sleeve fabric is still comfy when directly against the skin, though, and on milder days when you’re really working hard, doesn’t feel particularly clammy, as I initially thought it might.
Its thinner, almost regular-jersey-like construction means it’s a great one to wear on milder days, when full-on winter jerseys are just too stuffy.
You can work hard in the Trail Windblock without melting, which is a real plus.
If you do get caught in a light rain shower or are riding on puddle-strewn trails, the Trail Windblock does a good job of keeping water out.
It’s by no means a replacement for a waterproof jacket, but it certainly broadens the appeal and helps to justify that high price.
Overall, the Rapha Trail Windblock jersey is very expensive, and it might lack some of the extra details seen on its closest competitors (I’m thinking glasses wipes and discreet pockets), but it still delivers on the trail.
I’m a big fan of how well it works across a variety of temperatures without ever feeling as though you’re close to melting one second or freezing cold the next. It’s no wonder I constantly reach for this when heading out on the trails.
Rapha Trail Windblock jersey bottom line
The Trail Windblock jersey is a great jersey for those days when the weather is inconsistent.
I’ve been continually surprised at the range of temperatures it feels comfortable in and, considering how light it feels, just how well it blocks out the cold.
I’m a big fan of the cut and love the way it feels. It’s expensive and lacks some extra details that others offer at a lower price, but it still works really well.