A great jacket that stacks up well against its (even more expensive) competition. The waterproofing is top notch, the breathability is great, and it scrunches up small enough to easily fit into a jersey pocket. The fit is a fairly relaxed cut for winter layering and more casual riding through summer showers; race-y types will be better suited by other jackets with a tighter fit. The pink retention band isn’t as effective for packing away the jacket as stuff sack and the offset zip is a little annoying – but neither of these are deal breakers for an otherwise excellent jacket.
Not quite as easy to pack as a stuff sack
Offset zip takes getting used to
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Rapha’s Brevet Gore-Tex Rain Jacket is a highly effective waterproof with a slightly looser cut for accommodating winter layers and providing just a bit more all-round comfort. But despite its more endurance-focused credentials, the Brevet Gore-Tex Rain Jacket is still lightweight enough to easily stuff into a jersey pocket.
The breathability also ranks amongst the best waterproof cycling jackets we’ve tested – and so it should, utilising Gore-Tex’s 2L Paclite Plus fabric. Naturally, all this comes at a high price, but if you are after such a technical rain jacket, then that is simply the premium for this level of performance.
Rapha Brevet Gore-Tex Rain Jacket: construction
Let’s dwell on the fabric a little longer, as it really is a large part of what makes this jacket’s performance just so good. As mentioned, it’s Gore-Tex’s 2L Paclite Plus, which conforms to the American brand’s Black Diamond standard for complete waterproofing and high breathability. As per Rapha’s sustainability drive, the jacket is also made with recycled fabrics.
To ensure the lightweight packability of the jacket, most of the features are kept quite minimalist. The hem and cuffs are simply elasticated to keep the draughts out, rather than incorporating any drawstrings or a double cuff. There’s also no rear pocket or access points at the back of the jacket for getting to those of your jersey.
That said, the Brevet Gore-Tex Rain Jacket does utilise a two way zip, which not only enables access to your rear pockets, but it also makes shedding heat much easier on milder days – without either emulating a parachute or resigning yourself to riding with your jacket fully open.
Another nice touch is the generous number of reflective details. The total surface area of reflectives isn’t as great as on some jackets, but with the chest stripe, arm band, Gore logo, back stripe, Rapha logos, side details and wrist details – there are plenty all around the jacket.
The front zip (the only zip) has been offset to the wearer’s right. The reason for this is so that the jacket’s zip doesn’t sit on top of that of the layers underneath – although the arrangement of zips on top of each other as with most jackets isn’t something that I’ve felt is a problem before. But there you go.
Finally, there is a great big pink tag inside by the collar that is the wrong orientation for hanging up the jacket. Not that that’s an issue, there is a smaller pink tag above it which you can use for hanging up the jacket. But of the larger tag, this works as a retention band, so when you scrunch up the jacket, you can snap the tag round and hold it all in place.
It’s a neat minimalist idea, but it takes a lot of time folding up the jacket if you want it actually to look neat and take up as little space as it can. A stuff pocket is still the better solution for speed and guaranteed compact size – and I don’t think it would add too much in terms of weight and bulk.
Rapha Brevet Gore-Tex Rain Jacket: the ride
The Brevet is cut in what Rapha calls its ‘classic fit’, which works especially well for winter riding, when you’ve got more layers you want to fit under the jacket. And if you’re not one for completely skin tight cycling kit, it’s a good balance for the rest of the year as well.
As such, the jacket is prone to a bit of flapping in the wind, but thanks to the nicely balanced cut, this by no means feels excessive – just what you’d expect from a rain jacket which isn’t trying to become a second (or perhaps more accurately, third, forth or fifth) skin.
The length at the front is little longer than you’d find on race-fitting apparel and as such is more convenient on longer rides with a more relaxed position. It also sits much better when walking around off the bike. Some race-fit rain jackets can end up with the hem resting almost on my navel when stood up straight – great when bent double and drilling it, but it looks a little silly when picking up an espresso.
Round the back the tail is dropped, although only slightly. It provides some rear spray protection, but a little more would be preferable. Naturally, the more upright your position, the more coverage you’ll get.
The waterproofing, as you’d expect, was totally flawless, withstanding an hour’s worth of sustained rain without wetting out or leaking at the seams. The only part of me that got wet was my upper chest – but that was simply due to having the zip partially undone, with it having been unseasonably warm in the early autumn.
Which brings us nicely to the breathability. The Rapha Brevet Gore-Tex Rain Jacket is up there with the best rainshells and lightyears away from the boil-in-a-bag sensation of older and cheaper rain jackets.
But with the profusion of softshell jerseys, including the Castelli Perfetto and Rapha’s own Pro Team Long Sleeve Gore-Tex Infinium, the goal posts have somewhat been shifted – and now there are many cases when you can now ride feeling warm and dry, whereas previously you’d have to choose between warm and wet (from sweat, wearing a jacket) or cold and wet (from the rain, and no jacket).
Even the best hardshells can’t compete with softshells in lighter rain and changeable conditions. But with that all said, the range of conditions – and riding intensities – is much broader with the best rain jackets now than it was, and the Rapha Brevet Gore-Tex Rain Jacket is up there among them.
I was quite happy pushing a tempo / Z3 intensity in the rain with temperatures around 8°C / 46°F degrees – with the zip a little undone. Knocking things back to an endurance path / Z2 intensity, I’d be happy riding in the rain with this jacket up to about 17°C / 63°F – higher than that is my cut off point for feeling too hot and stifled and fully unzipping. Of course, with the right layers underneath, you can go as cold as you like. This is just to give an idea of the upper limits and its breathability.
Finally, that zip. I really didn’t get on with its offset position. A lifetime of muscle memory is hard to reprogram and I was always grabbing at slightly the wrong position, whether trying to zip up the jacket or unzip it. I didn’t find that offset position increased my comfort particularly and it also made unzipping the layers beneath for a bit of airflow more of a faff.
It’s not a deal breaker, though. There are lots of excellent points to this jacket and, although the price is high, it is actually quite competitive against those of other brands at this high-end level of the market.
Rapha Brevet Gore-Tex Rain Jacket: value and conclusion
To expand on the Rapha Brevet Gore-Tex Rain Jacket’s value a little more, priced at $360.00 / £265.00 – although that is a lot to spend on a rain jacket – it is actually pretty good value compared to other lightweight, packable and reliably waterproof layers.
There are far more expensive rain jackets out there, Castelli’s Idro Pro 3 being an obvious example with its $449.99 / £410 price tag and Assos’ Equipe RS Rain Jacket Targa is also more expensive at $400 / £290.
In terms of the Rapha Brevet Gore-Tex Rain Jacket’s performance I’d put it right up there with both those jackets. With perhaps a slight caveat that the Assos Equipe RS Rain Jacket Targa feels a little more robust – but that would be a multi-season test to fully compare the longevity of the two.
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After winning the 2019 National Single-Speed Cross-Country Mountain Biking Championships and claiming the plushie unicorn (true story), Stefan swapped the flat-bars for drop-bars and has never looked back.
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