Whilst the Rapha Core Winter Jacket lacks the full winter protection offered by some of its rivals, what it does offer is breathability and versatility. When the weather isn't subzero the Core Winter Jacket comes into its own and enables you to train hard without suffering from overheating or the dreaded build up of sweat. The price is very reasonable compared to the competition too.
Lacks full winter protection
The fundamental behind Rapha's Core range is getting the basics right and as such the Core Winter Jacket is simply constructed; no bells, no whistles; focussing on keeping you protected during colder rides. Its plain, understated look does however hide a number of key features that show that Rapha has, in the main, got it right.
The jacket uses a three layer windproof and water resistant fabric across the front half of the jacket for weather protection and a lighter weight stretch fabric across the back and back of arms to aid breathability.
The entire inner face is brushed to improve its thermal properties and increase comfort against the skin. Both cuff and collar feature a softer, ribbed knit section to shield the rider from wind and rain.
Three large pockets are easily accessed when wearing gloves with the right hand pocket also featuring a zippered additional pocket that can fit a phone or other valuables. A dropped tail complete with wide silicon gripper finishes the jacket.
>>> 10 worst winter kit mistakes and how to avoid them
Rapha doesn't claim this is a jacket for deep winter use and this is evident from the first ride. The lighter weight construction means it lacks the protection to cope on its own during the worst of the weather. This was evident on the first ride when, with temperatures sitting at just above freezing, it just didn't cut it with just a long sleeve base layer underneath.
The mixed construction, with just the front being windproof, also meant that the effects of a cold wind can be felt during the ride especially around the arms. I also found the fit to be a little odd around the arms, there just seemed to be a little too much material. As such it doesn't sit smoothly on the forearms, leading to a bit more wind flap and generally making the jacket look like it doesn't fit properly.
That's the downside out of the way. But what makes the Core Winter jacket not ideal for deep winter use actually turns it into a very versatile outer layer for milder days.
The lower levels of insulation and weather protection make it much more comfortable to use when working harder on the bike; times when a thicker jacket can trap built up sweat and become an unpleasant environment to be in. This breathability makes it a jacket I'm much more likely to grab when given the choice.
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James Bracey's career has seen him move from geography teacher, to MBR writer, to Cycling Weekly's senior tech writer and video presenter. He possesses an in-depth knowledge of bicycle mechanics, as well as bike fit and coaching qualifications. Bracey enjoys all manner of cycling, from road to gravel and mountain biking.
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