Rapha Core Rain Jacket II review - smart and well-fitted but a shame about the sleeves

A highly breathable, waterproof and visible (in Orange) jacket

Image shows Rapha Core Rain Jacket II.
(Image credit: Paul Grele)
Cycling Weekly Verdict

Overall this is a really nice jacket at a reasonable price. It looks classy and fitted well. It is very breathable and waterproof. It kept me dry and snug from the rain and I really appreciated the feeling of being visible to other road users whilst in the low light and poor visibility conditions that I rode in. The tight cuffs and zip are really two handed jobs when you put it on though. You may also want a longer dropped tail if you don't use mudguards in winter.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Lovely cut and classy finish

  • +

    Water beads well on garment

  • +

    Orange version is highly visible

  • +

    127g for a size medium

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Zip is tight to zip up single handed

  • -

    Neck is on the tighter side

  • -

    Cuffs are tight when trying to get wet mitts through the arms

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The Rapha Core II is a waterproof jacket that can easily be rolled up to carry in a rear pocket, light enough so that you'll barely notice it there, yet snug enough that when you do wear it it'll keep the worst of the weather off you. It is available in six colours; Black, Navy, Green, Red, Dark Yellow and Bright Orange, and in six sizes from XS to XXL. There is also a Women's version available in either Black or Teal and in sizes XXS to XL. The price of $150 / £110 also includes free standard delivery in the US and UK from Rapha.

This jacket is a strong contender compared with others in our guide to the best packable waterproof jackets as it has many great features at a good price.

Rapha Core Rain Jacket II

Rear/side view

(Image credit: M. Grele)

Rapha Core Rain Jacket II: construction

The jacket is made from a lightweight waterproof fabric with a hydrophobic membrane incorporating fully taped seams and an AquaGuard zip for waterproofing and wind resistance. The zip is offset at the neckline to alleviate irritation at the chin. There are four reflective stripes, a reflective logo and a white armband to help you stand out in low light conditions or on a night ride. There is an inner elasticated cuff to create a weatherproof seal at the wrists.

I weighed the jacket at 127g for a mens medium.

Rapha Core Rain Jacket II: the ride

My first impression of the jacket when it arrived was that is seemed quite bright (!), not surprising as it was the Bright Orange version. However there is a matt finish to the garment and over the testing period I've found that it feels rather classy for a highly visible jacket. I was testing a medium (my normal jacket size), the cut was great and it fitted very nicely.

So setting off wearing the jacket for a ride on a blustery day with squally rain I felt snug and prepared. The water beaded on the shell and jumped off with a flick of the arm. The dropped tail was cinched in to keep a secure fit and the offset zip was done up and off I went. 

On a fairly dismal day (weather-wise) I felt confident in my visibility level, which was reassuring. I was kept dry and warm during the ride with no rain running down my neck or up the sleeves. Although the dropped tail is fairly short it kept my behind dry. However I was using mudguards and didn't have to contend with rear wheel spray. Upon arriving home the jacket was given a shake to remove most of the still beading water and inspected for any leaks or damp ingress. There was none as far as I could tell and my clothing was dry underneath too. The nylon 2.5 and 3 layer fabric had done it's job well!

On another dry but chilly morning ride I found that the jacket worked well as a windproof layer and allowed me to warm up pretty quickly. Generally speaking I haven't become overheated or damp and clammy wearing this garment so it seems that the breathability is excellent too. I was assured on a night ride, that both the white armband and 'Rapha' logo were nicely visible by a following rider.

There are a couple of things to note however. Firstly the zip is quite stiff to do up and you almost need to use both hands for this. I'm sure that it is the AquaGuard weatherproofing that is making it tight. 

Also, I found that I had to leave the zip down 1cm at the top as when cycling it became slightly tight. However in that position it was comfortable and didn't leak. I don't have a large neck and the other jackets on test allowed me slightly more room without rain ingress being a problem. The other thing to note is in regard to the double cuffs. They certainly fit very nicely but I found that when putting the jacket on during a shower that getting my wet mitts through the cuff was a bit of a fight. It's not a problem if everything is dry! Given these two issues I think that you definitely need to stop to don the jacket rather than putting it on whilst still riding.

Rapha Core Rain Jacket II: value and conclusion

At $150 / £110 RRP this is a good value jacket. Comparing it to the $234.00 / £180 dhb Aeron Lab Ultralight 2.0 jacket that I recently reviewed I'd have to say that, although there was much that I really liked about the dhb, I would have to choose the Rapha as it was properly waterproof. The Rapha is very lightweight and rolls up small so there's no excuse not to take it with you on a ride. 

Overall this is a really nice jacket at a reasonable price. It looks classy and fitted well. It is very breathable and really waterproof.

It wasn't so good if you need to keep riding and put it on, as the tight cuffs and zip are really two handed jobs. Certainly it's a brief roadside stop to put it on. You may want a longer dropped tail if you don't use mudguards in winter.

The Rapha Core Rain Jacket II kept me dry and snug from the rain and I really appreciated the feeling of being visible to other road users whilst in the low light and poor visibility conditions that I rode in.