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Rapha Hooded Rain Jacket II review

7 May 2021
Verdict:

Superior cycling and casual jacket for the worst rain, and handles cold weather to boot

Cyclist Rating: 
For 
Waterproof • Breathable • Warm • Rapha quality
Against 
Sizing on the roomy side

Rapha’s Hooded Rain Jacket II is waterproof, of course. It would be daft if it wasn’t. But it’s also several cuts above the average commuting jacket, building on the already very good original Rain Jacket.

The spec

Turn-up cuffs expose hi-vis Rapha pink detailing; a zip pocket at the rear hem houses a similarly reflective drop-tail. The hood has an elastic drawstring system, and though it isn’t removable it is stowable inside the collar with a band and clasp system.

The full-length zip undoes from the bottom too, there’s a Velcro flap on the chest more for aesthetics than anything else. Finally there are two pockets. Oh yes, and it’s waterproof. Did I say that?

What that means is while the Rain Jacket doesn’t carry a Gore-Tex label it uses a variant of the waterproofing system Gore invented back in 1977: a three-ply laminate of face fabric (DWR coated/water repellent), a fully waterproof membrane and a backing fabric designed to wick away sweat and feel comfortable against skin.

Size and fit

The upshot is the Rapha Rain Jacket is nicely stretchy as well as keeping out the rain (all the seams are taped too, of course), which is great for cycling. That said, the cut here is generous for the medium I tested (for reference I’m 180cm, 99cm/39” chest, 78kg), so I wasn’t exactly struggling to move limbs when worn over a t-shirt.

The extra roominess, though, was mighty useful for turning the jacket into more of a cold-rain shell, ample space to wear over a big jumper or down jacket.

Sizing is always the defining factor with any clothing, so I’d absolutely try before you buy if you can – don’t just rely on your t-shirt size – and carefully consider how you’re going to wear this.

Me, I was glad to be able to pair the Rain Jacket with a down jacket, but were I more in the market for straight-up rain jacket I’d look at a small.

Buy the Rapha Hooded Rain Jacket II now

Weather proofing

Overall weather protection is stand-out. Whatever the chemical treatment and weave density of the face fabric, the Rain Jacket continued to make rain bead. This after three months on test: no washing, lots of rain and general inclemency.

I’d expect this to eventually stop as it always does – the treatment wears over time. But still, it’s noticeably better than other similar garments, and they do say you can bring DWR back using a dryer, but honestly I’ve never had much success and Rapha isn't recommending this.

But I digress. If you want waterproof you want this jacket. But that’s not all…

Buy the Rapha Hooded Rain Jacket II now

The Rain Jacket, with just a t-shirt underneath, is warm. It’s really very breathable too, I didn’t find myself building up uncomfortable sweats, but equally a lightweight rain jacket this is not. But that’s a good thing.

It feels robust, it has a soft-enough backing fabric so it feels nice against bear arms and it definitely did a jolly good turn down to around 7°C with just a t-shirt (I look at the temperature on my phone all the time now, what else is there to do?).

And this all goes for off the bike too. I’ve done a lot of walking in the Hooded Rain Jacket including a week exploring the Pembrokeshire hills, so I’d vouch for this being a lot more than just a stylish commuter jacket. I'd probably stop short of Everest but would be happy enough up Snowdon.

Features

Weird to say but one of the best features of the Rapha Hooded Rain Jacket II is the hood, because it actually stays on my head in blowy winds. Call me a jacket pedant but I hate it when you have to walk around on a gusty day holding down the peak of a hood. I also like that it’s not removable – there’s no neck draft (I am getting old as well as boring) and you get an even, high collar that comes over the chin and again isn’t restrictive.

The whole thing just cups my head, I guess you’d say. Whether it cups yours will depend on your head. But I’d reckon mine is relatively average, and at any rate, to really batten down the hatches there are the elasticated cords, which integrate so well into the hood that I didn’t realise the Rain Jacket had them at first.

Buy the Rapha Hooded Rain Jacket II now

Less useful is the drop tail. Or bum flap to give the technical term. It is classic Rapha – pink, reflective, lets your fellow commuter know this is a Rapha jacket – and it stows very neatly indeed via a hidden zip pocket on the inside hem. But I just don’t think bum flaps do anything except get dirty. Anyway, like I say, it folds away, and I appreciate the thought.

More useful are the turn up cuffs. In casual mode just a green cuff, but turn them up to reveal reflective detailing that should give you that extra bit of luminescence in low light and reflectivity from headlights at night. Especially good for turn signals. So too the zip, which can be undone from the bottom which is really much more useful than you think, especially if you like capes.

Of middling usefulness are the pockets. The ones the Hooded Rain Jacket has are ample, zip up securely and waterproofly with storm flaps, but there are just two of them.

I’d really like one nimble chest pocket somewhere, a feature on other jackets I now find useful for storing things like a mask or phone if I’m walking about listening to podcasts and want to have both hands in the pockets. Not a deal breaker, but I reckon it could be added and I’d like that.

Buy the Rapha Hooded Rain Jacket II now

And that’s pretty much it really. Rain Jacket by name, rain jacket by nature, and Rapha through and through. In other words it feels quality and looks the business, on and off the bike. I’d consider this just for a rain jacket even if I didn’t cycle. Bravo.

All reviews are fully independent and no payments have been made by companies featured in reviews

Price: 
£230

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