In timely fashion, Rapha has added the Trail Gore-Tex Infinium Jacket to its Performance Trailwear Collection for MTB. It is, first and foremost, a water-resistant jacket designed to keep the wearer dry come the worst of winter, but its Gore-Tex Infinium shell is said to produce the perfect harmony between impermeability and breathability, allowing the sweat produced during your hard efforts to escape. Here are our first impressions of this $375 USD piece of winter riding kit.
Rapha Trail Gore-Tex Infinium Jacket
For those savvy with textile nomenclature, the Rapha Trail Gore-Tex Infinium Jacket is constructed from GORE-TEX Infinium, a hybridized 3L 30D nylon ripstop lined with a C-KNIT backer, and a DWR coating on the shell. That means the exterior of jacket is water-resistant and durable, but with a stretchy, more breathable panel sewn in underneath the armpits, tapering down toward the inside of the sleeves.
I’ve had a couple rainy rides in the Women’s Size Small that was sent my way. Here’s how it has fared so far.
Our First Impressions of the Rapha Trail Gore-Tex Infinium MTB Jacket
The Rapha Trail Gore-Tex Infinium Jacket has only has two pockets. Both are chest pockets; the one on the left opens from the outside of the jacket, and the one on the right is hidden away on the inside. Personally, I really like my jackets to have big pockets down the front so I can slip my hands into them casually, or stow a spare pair of gloves and snacks in there when i’m riding pack-less.
It’s lightweight; my Size Small weighed in just 280g. I guess the absence of the extra pockets reduces the amount of material and zippers necessary, helping to keep weight down.
Inside the jacket, all the seams are fully taped, including those around the hood. After a couple of showery riders, i’m satisfied the Rapha Trail Gore-Tex Infinium Jacket is sufficiently water-resistant, as advertised, thanks to its DWR coating. I haven’t had the delight of any on-bike deluges yet, so you’ll have to wait for a longer term review to see how it fares under those harsher conditions.
In reality, any waterproof or water-resistant jacket is only as good as the owner’s efforts to maintain it. That is, caring for it as detailed explicitly by the manufacturer. For the Rapha Jacket, that means washing with the fasteners closed, inside a laundry bag, with liquid detergent only at no more than 30°C, and then tumble drying afterward to reactivate the DWR coating.
I really like the breathable panels that run underneath the wearer’s armpit. It tapers off as it extends down the wearer’s side, and as it extends down the inside of the wearer’s sleeves. It was the wettest part of the jacket on my most recent rides, demonstrating that the sweat I was generating was managing to escape. I remained warm and dry on my rides, despite putting in reasonable effort.
I really like the extra back length offered on the Rapha Trail Gore-Tex Infinium Jacket. The hem drops low down over my bum to fend off any spray coming up from the rear wheel. There is an elasticated draw cord around the waist so you can tighten it here if you so wish.
The Rapha Jacket’s hood is helmet-compatible. It was a tight-ish fit, but it does extend up and over the ABUS Cliffhanger helmet so you can pop it up super quick when the heavens open.
If you’re wearing the jacket for walks or runs, as well as bike rides, the hood has an elasticated draw cord too; that will be helpful for wet, blustery days where the wind would normally threaten to whip the hood off.
One aspect i’m not so keen on is the rucked sleeve cuffs. They pinch off at the wrist which, to me, seems like it would only serve to channel rolling droplets of water to fall directly into your gloves. I prefer a more open cuff design that helps shed water off the sleeve from underneath.
What about the fit?
Rapha sent me a Women’s Rapha Trail Gore-Tex Hybrid Jacket in Size Small. My chest and waist measurements both come in larger than the measurements indicated for the Size Small, but I have narrow hips (see size guide below). With the two thin layers I was wearing underneath, I probably could have worn an XS quite comfortably. That said, as we head into deepest winter and the temperature hits freezing, i’ll be layering up more, and will probably wear some kind of fleece-lined mid-layer underneath this so the fit will be better for that.
- Sufficiently long in the back
- Helmet compatible
- Not enough pockets
- Sleeve cuffs aren’t to my taste