A badly made rain jacket can be so unpleasant on the bike that some riders prefer to get soaked than cover themselves from the elements. The Rapha Women’s Rain Jacket, by comparison, is such a pleasure to use we found ourselves reaching for it on brisk or drizzly days off the bike as well.
The snug and functional fit of the Women’s Rain Jacket makes it easy to recommend: tight cuffs stop the wind channelling up the arms, sleeves are an appropriate width and the body shape avoids the ‘Michelin Man’ effect in the wind.
The comfortable collar sits tight enough against the neck to prevent water entering the jacket while in a riding position, but is loose enough to avoid any unpleasant sensation of choking. Simple tabs on the inside of the waist facilitate the elastic being drawn, in creating a snugger fit down low.
Design changes from last year’s model include waterproof fabric all around and a softer material on the arms for extra comfort in warmer seasons. Rapha has done away with the large pocket at the rear (it’s not really necessary when riding with a jersey underneath). A small side pocket has been added for quick and easy access to a phone or some food.
A well-thought out fit is obviously an important quality in a rain jacket, and Rapha has achieved this in all areas with this cycle wardrobe staple. It’s also good to see that the sizing extends to XXS, offering smaller women the benefits of this snug fit as well.
We tested the jacket in a stylish dark plum colour, but found we wanted to pair it up with bright bibs and accessories to remain visible on the road in wet conditions. We're glad to see that the current range also extends to the far more visible chartreuse (Rapha’s signature take on fluoro yellow), a change from last year’s more muted navy or grey.
On the bike, the snug fit meant we never felt as if we were being blown backwards in the wind, even with the main zip at half mast. The material was comfortable to wear and moved with the body.
Some sweating was apparent in warmer conditions, but raising the sleeves and opening the main zip provided excellent temperature regulation. Pairing the jacket with a merino thermal kept us warm and dry in conditions down to 0°C (32°F), making it an excellent travel companion.
While we appreciated the snug fit of the cuffs, elastic with a bit more stretch here would make it easier to slide them up the arms for temperature regulation while riding. The main zip was also sometimes difficult to operate with one gloved hand while riding. These are very small niggles, but worth mentioning.
While Rapha markets aggressively to road and cyclo-cross users, we’ve seen a lot of female mountain bikers reaching for, and swearing by, this jacket as well. The dark colour is easier to keep clean in mud, and the high-performing fit makes solo efforts on a wet and windy day far more pleasurable than when wearing baggier alternatives.
Given the cost, Rapha’s Women’s Rain Jacket is not an impulse purchase. But it ticks all the boxes in terms of fit and performance, and made us so much happier about riding in chilly and damp conditions as a result. The unique and attractive finish made us feel good too. We certainly expect to see a lot more women adding the Rapha Rain Jacket to their cycling essentials as a result.