When it comes to wet weather, particularly in the winter, you have a few options. You could do the cycling equivalent of hibernating and just go and ride Zwift in your shed (no, not your ‘pain cave’, please), but this isn’t for me. You could commit to riding the same amount as usual, come rain or shine, and kit yourself out with one of the absolute best waterproof cycling jackets money can buy, along with some of the best bike lights. Alternatively, as our Buddhist readership will no doubt be ahead of me on, the ideal may be The Middle Way.
You may not want to hear this, but if you don’t regularly ride in the rain then you probably don’t need the absolute best in terms of waterproofing and breathability. When the time comes to ride in foul weather, having a top-tier shell will certainly make life more comfortable, but if it sits in the cupboard for most of the year then it’s money wasted.
In my experience a lot of riders want a waterproof jacket to get them through the occasional grim day when they have committed to ride, or are suddenly overcome with a Belgian urge to have an absolutely grim time in a downpour. They need a jacket that’ll get them through without breaking the bank. These jackets tend to sit around the £100 / €120 / $150 mark, with proper waterproof membranes, taped seams, and waterproof zips. Enough to get you through a big ride in the rain, but perhaps not enough to leave you wanting more by the end of the day.
The Rapha Core Rain Jacket II is, on paper, one of these jackets. A £110 RRP, a non-branded membrane, but an aesthetic and fit that’s clearly a cut above truly budget options. I’ve been out in the rain in it over the winter, both on the road and for fast gravel action, so if it takes your interest then buckle up and read on.
Design and aesthetics
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of the design features, I must say I really like the look of this jacket. I was glad to have the yellow one. Rapha describes it as ‘gold’ and the pictures on its site don’t really do the colour justice. It’s much more like ‘Coleman’s English Mustard’; a properly cheerful, sunny yellow. All else aside, on a day out in the rain, having something that’s a colour other than black or gravel-specific olive green is actually more of a morale booster than you might expect. It also helps that you’ll be a…