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Rapha Core winter jacket review

26 Mar 2018

Very good in a range of temperatures, reasonably priced & very comfortable: it might mean trouble for the brand's higher priced kit

Cyclist Rating: 
• Good in a range of temperatures • Very comfortable • Quality kit at a reasonable price

Photography Rob Milton / Mike Massaro

Known for its high quality and often equivalently high priced kit, Rapha launched its Core range to widen its market and shift some of the preconceptions of those who've never worn Rapha cycling kit. Leading the way in the range over the colder months is the Rapha Core winter jacket, which I've been using since getting hold of one ahead of November's Rapha Prestige event on a cold day in Manchester.

Despite feeling quite thin to the touch, this jacket has proved to be adaquate at lower temperatures while also not leading to overheating when the mercury does start to rise on sunnier days.

This is thanks to the jacket's weather-resistant three-layer laminate front section which helps keep the wind out and a breathable back to let excess heat escape.

Buy the Core winter jacket from Rapha here

Always on the colder side and keen on layering up, I sometimes pair the jacket with a gilet - either lightweight or thermal depending on temperature and windchill - as a belt and braces approach that is unlikely to be necessary for most riders.

I've worn it on a bike review photoshoot in minus 3°C with a Polartec Alpha® insulation-lined gilet and on its own for weekend rides when the temperature has breeched double figures.

Due to some perceptions about those who wear Rapha - not always fair but nor completely unfounded based on some shenanigans I've witnessed on weekend rides - the subtle branding of the Core range, as displayed on the Rapha Core winter jacket was very welcome and I feel adds to the kit's appeal.

Black on black logos and without the left sleeve band that is synonymous with most kit from Rapha all make for a sleek jacket that can be worn with any choice of helmet, shoes and bibshorts.

A further positive of the jacket is its comfort when worn. The fit isn't particularly snug or racy, which I count as a good thing for a training jacket worn on long, cold, low tempo winter rides and sportives.

This means it is comfortable and causes no restriction to movement on or off the bike.

At the rear are three top access pocket and one zipped compartment. The three main pockets are of an ample size to carry all essentials for a winter ride and hold their structure, even when sweaty, and the size of each means they are accessible for gloved hands.

At £125, the Rapha Core winter jacket is significantly more affordable than jackets of a similar performance from rival brands. It is also around half the price of some of its internal rivals within the Rapha range, which brings me on to another point about this jacket.

So good is this jacket that you have to wonder if Rapha is diverting people away from its own more highly priced range. Why pay £250 when this £125 jacket will see you through the worst of the winter?

Of course, I've no idea what the brand's margins are per item so perhaps selling more of the lower priced option is better for the bottom line anyway. Further, and as mentioned at the start of this review, the Core range is seemingly aimed away from Rapha's traditional customer base.

Whatever this jacket means in a wider sense for Rapha as a brand, it's a faultless bit of kit that has been my go to jacket for long winter rides and commutes to work alike through the worst of this winter.

Buy the Core winter jacket from Rapha here


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