Rapha’s Explore gravel bikepacking offshoot of their ultra-endurance Brevet line-up is nothing new. Built with a “pack light, travel far” mentality the Explore line is a lot about getting off Rapha’s traditional ties to the road, in the interest of more adventure. Now with a down jacket, down sleeping bag, and even winter cargo tights, Explore is preparing to keep our adventure riding year round.
Explore pretty much kicked off this spring with the banana-pocket Cargo Bib Shorts that we all wanted to mock from the start, but are actually super comfortable & convenient for hauling things like snacks. Explore also brought a technical riding t-shirt, for a less MAMIL look around camp.
Now in the last week Rapha has added another set of Explore cargo bottoms – the Cargo Winter Tights – then a lightweight, super packable Down Jacket, and now a Down Sleeping Bag that pairs with the jacket.
Rapha Explore Sleeping System – down jacket + down bag
Rapha teased us earlier this autumn with the idea of a “Sleep System” composed of multiple Explore and down pieces. We initially thought it was going to zip together to create a Franken-sleeping bag. Now it is more clearly a two-piece affair that keeps it simple, layering one inside the other.
Rapha Explore Down Jacket for bikepacking & off the bike
The first part is a lightweight, ‘ethically sourced’ down jacket, that while somewhat cycling specific, transitions smoothly off the bike as well. Designed with a relaxed fit it layers well, is comfortable while riding trails or tooling around camp, and should mesh well with the sleeping bag.
It does not have an aggressive racy road cut, so deep in the drops its sleeves might be a tad short for riders with super long arms (I have long arms and have been fine with it so far on gravel & mountain bike rides). It also doesn’t have a prominent dropped tail, so it will work best with a good warm pair of bibs or bib tights.
At $295 / 260€ the Explore Down Jacket isn’t cheap, but actually surprisingly affordable stacked up against other premium down jackets.
It weighs just 230g for a size medium and packs down into its stuff sack about the same size as a small water bottle but a bit bigger around. It still fits in a standard jersey pocket, but just barely.
The jacket is made of a lightweight nylon shell with a DWR coating and insulated by 850 fill down. I’ve ridden with it in -4° weather so far, on top of other layers and been plenty warm. In fact, riding uphill I got hot & sweaty in it, and when I pulled it off sweat had beaded up inside, and inside out I just shook it dry.
The jacket features a snap-on hood that is easy to remove, a separate stuff sack that I expect will get lost if you aren’t careful, and elastic & adjustable bungee cinches at cuffs, hood & waist. It comes in three different colors – dark green, navy & black. Each gets four lines of reflective contrast stitching around the chest & back, but you only notice it on the navy jacket until a light hits it.
Rapha Explore Down Sleeping Bag for bikepacking
Intended for use on multi-day bikepacking trips, the Explore Down Sleeping Bag assumes you are already carrying a Down Jacket, so why double up and carry more insulation for your upper body. Half of the Rapha ‘Sleep System’, the Explore bag is a full-length sleeping mummy-style bag, but only provides down insulation from the waist down. Up top, it’s the job of the Down Jacket to keep you warm.
Construction of the $330 / 290€ bag is the same as the jacket with a DWR-coated, woven nylon shell and 850 fill European down insulation that you can track the exact origin of at: trackmydown.com. Rapha says that DWR treatment means, like the jacket, the bag will keep you warm even in wet weather.
The bag gets a half-length, two-way zip to make it easy to get in and out of, and a drawcord hood to secure it up top & one at the waist to hold it tight against the Down Jacket. A third drawcord opening at the feet means you can walk around camp wrapped in the bag, and also regulate temperature easily. It comes in two sizes to fit cyclist campers up to or over 177cm / 5’10”. The S/M weighs 276g and the M/L 322g, both packing down small to only take up part of your bikepacking bags.
Rapha says the bag is rated to just 15°C / 59°F for comfort. But you hopefully would be able to push that a bit with some merino sleepwear, as that would pretty much make it a summer only option for most riders. I will say that I hope to get a bag to test out in the near future – and will report back! For sure it won’t be up to the -20°C / -4°F of my last fatbikepacking trip, but something in between would be nice.
Rapha Explore Cargo Winter Tights for bikepacking
Rapha didn’t stop the cargo trend with summer weight bib shorts, now a set of Explore Cargo Winter Tights get the same treatment. Designed again to make it easier to carry more things close at hand, the winter weight tights get two extra pockets on the lower back and two on the legs. One pocket each on the back and the one on the left leg are water-resistant and get waterproof zippers to keep sensitive items dry in all weather.
The tights are made of an “extremely warm” fabric with a fleece inner face and a durable water-repellent (DWR) treatment on the outside to shed rain & wheel spray. They feature a quick-dry, perforated, higher-density chamois pad designed for long days in the saddle, and have fully reflective panels on the back of the lower legs, plus additional reflective detailing fort added visibility.
The 285€ Rapha Explore Cargo Winter Tights are available in black with gray detailing or navy blue with white & pink details, and are cut higher in the front to block out the cold.
Rapha Explore bikepacking bag family TBD
Still to come are a few new bikepacking bags. We haven’t seen any real details on the bags, but Rapha has officially called out the Explore Bar Pack by name. And they’ve shared plenty of images of the waterproofed frame bag & saddle bag as well.
Details on the bags include waterproof zippers, reflective Brevet stripes, and a mix of strap+buckle & velcro attachment. One thing is clear, their construction differs significantly from the first generation Brevet bikepacking bags created for Rapha by Apidura, so these are possibly made by someone else entirely.