Cold, deep winter riding can present a challenge to finding good quality kit that’ll keep you warm without the bulk, but the Rapha Women’s explore Down Jacket has quickly become a firm favourite of mine in our guide to the best winter cycling jackets.
I trialled the Rapha Explore Down Jacket in a range of winter weather, finding that it excelled on the colder, crisper winter mornings preventing the chill from creeping into your bones. Packable down to 21 x 11 cm and weighing only 255 grams (less than my phone), the Explore Down Jacket has become a staple in my wardrobe both on and off the bike, offering incredible warmth and versatility.
Design and aesthetics
The Rapha women’s explore down jacket is a boxier fit than a lot of other cycling jackets I have tested, which generally suits my preference for a more laid back style of riding. Using Rapha’s size guide, I was surprised to find that my chest/waist/hip ratio was almost spot on the size recommended for small, which almost never happens (I am usually between about three different sizes and have to do some very complex maths to figure out which to go for). Once on though, I realised I actually could have sized it down as it fits rather more generously than I had expected, which did lose a bit of the tailoring in the fit. While not on the bike, this lack of tailoring wasn’t that noticeable – it just looked like a puffy jacket – but as soon as I stuck items such as my phone or keys into the pockets and got on my bike, I found it hung low and heavy across my belly, giving me a strangely misshapen silhouette. The slightly smaller size would probably have mitigated this, but I’d have lost the room for layering beneath it which I wanted to keep for the very depths of winter, and movement would have been slightly more restricted. In the small size I had complete freedom in my upper body to twist and reach.
One thing to consider on the sizing is that it progressed in even 5 cm increments equally across the chest/waist/hip measurements, suggesting that the larger sizes are simply bigger versions of the smaller cut. This is a shame, as it doesn’t reflect the body types of those with a larger chest or curvier frame, who could easily find themselves between sizes with an excess or restriction of fabric around the waist or hips and was disappointing from such a big brand.
For me though, the slight…