- Class-leading fabric
- Impressive insulation for its thickness, yet very breathable
- Great water repellency
- Fabric can bunch around the knee
- Outer DWR will wear off, but can be replenished.
Price as reviewed:
Having previously reviewed the Shadow jersey and bib shorts I was keen to see how the Rapha Pro Team Shadow leg warmers performed. These are made from the same fabric as the jersey – and this fabric is the key to the Shadow line. It is a thin but dense material, a tough textile that provides excellent breathability, windproofing and water repellency while still maintaining a good degree of stretch.
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The stretch of the Shadow fabric is limited, though, and I suspect this has led Rapha to deploy a slightly stretchier panel behind the knee joint.
Touched from the outside, the Shadow fabric feels quite rough to the tough but has a comfortable, soft, brushed inner surface so that it can comfortably be worn against the skin without distraction.
Regarding fit, I normally wear size small Rapha shorts and the size small leg warmers fitted well too. The grippers at the top of the leg were decent and held in place under the Shadow shorts. Breathability is excellent too
I wore the Rapha Pro Team Shadow Leg Warmers in a variety of conditions ranging from 5-10ºC in both wet and dry. When riding in the wet, water repellency is excellent and to show this I have included a photo taken on a very wet ride up Wrynose Pass in the Lake District.
I did notice water seeping through the softer fabric on the back of the knee joint prior to the Shadow fabric wetting out. The outer DWR (durable water resistant) coating does deteriorate with washing and use but can be replenished with special products. To illustrate this the below photo shows a new pair of Shadow leg warmers next to a year-old pair of Shadow shorts. Note the lack of beading on the shorts.
Crucially though, once wet the Rapha Pro Team Shadow leg warmers continue to keep you warm. The fit is very comfortable but I did experience some bunching of the fabric around the knee joint, which is a slight negative on an aesthetic level and is visible in the photo below. Again, I suspect this is a result of the Shadow fabric not being the stretchiest.
I would prefer the Rapha Pro Team Shadow leg warmers to have some hi-vis or reflective details. This is kit designed for foul weather after all. To clarify, I do not want them to be luminous yellow, but some stylish reflective details would be most welcome. It is my understanding that printing reflective details on the special DWR fabric remains a challenge.
At £85 these warmers cost more than most shorts, so are they worth it? Castelli Nanoflex leg warmers also have a DWR coating and are more affordable at £50, but in my experience they are less durable and the coating doesn’t last as long. The next nearest comparison is the Assos S7 Leg Warmers – a product which is highly technical in fit but lacks the water resistance of the Shadow warmers.
Overall, the Rapha Pro Team Shadow leg warmers are a very versatile addition to your wardrobe that complement the other Shadow garments well. The fabric appears to have some slight limitations with regards to stretch, but is the best performing textile I have used with regards to thickness, insulation, breathability, wind-proofing and water resistance. I am sure we will continue to see products like this develop and improve, but if I had to race in foul weather tomorrow, I would be reaching for these ahead of any other leg warmers.
Sizes: S, M, L size tested - small
Size tested: Small
Weight: 49g each in a size small