Finding the right clothes for riding in the rain is a never-ending quest. New technologies are changing the equation and depending on your needs, there are different answers. The breadth of options available is why we have a guide covering the best waterproof cycling jackets.
The sheer array of options for rain jackets is dizzying, but even staying within the Rapha range things aren’t straightforward as there is a huge range of jacket options available from the brand. If you limit it to just rainy day options in the Pro Team range, that leaves you with the Pro Team Gore-Tex Rain Jacket, Pro Team Insulated Gore-Tex Rain Jacket, Pro Team Insulated Gore-Tex Jacket and the Pro Team Lightweight Gore-Tex Jacket. Four very similar names that all cover slightly different wet weather riding situations, but with a fair amount of overlap in each’s ideal use case.
We’ve spent some time in a few of them now and today we’re going to be talking about the Rapha Pro Team Insulated Gore-Tex Rain Jacket, so if you’re looking for the right jacket to tackle both the cold and the rain, keep reading to see how the new option fits into the larger landscape of rain jackets.
Design and aesthetics
The key thing to emphasize with this jacket is the avoidance of using Gore-Tex Shakedry fabric. Shakedry is a truly fantastic material that takes the Gore-Tex membrane and removes the outer fabric, exposing the waterproof membrane from the inside. The result is an incredibly lightweight material, and the lack of outer fabric means there’s nothing to soak up water, so it just beads up and runs off. However, it’s also incredibly fragile and that’s one of the reasons why Rapha now offers another option.
Shakedry is generally suitable for road riding, you can wear it, wash it, crumple it in a jersey pocket and repeat over and over and expect it to be fine. However, the insulated version of the Pro Team jacket with Shakedry gained popularity with a different audience. It quickly caught the attention of adventure cyclists.
It was still too big to fit in a jersey pocket, but for adventurers who commonly used something from our list of best bike bags, it was easy to store. However, while the jacket offered immense weather sealing performance, Shakedry is no match for the branches. Not only that, but it’s also considered beyond repair and that’s a challenge for Rapha repair services, and that brings us to this jacket.
Those Shakedry options still exist, but now there are more options, and compared to the Shakedry Insulated Jacket, the Pro Team Insulated Gore-Tex Rain Jacket has two big differences. The first is a change in design direction. Pro Team is synonymous with racing in the Rapha portfolio and this jacket is more in line with that goal. Then alongside this conceptual change comes a change in materials, the new version of the Pro Team Insulated Rain Jacket continues the Gore partnership but moves to Paclite Plus.
Paclite Plus is a hybrid between Shakedry and a traditional three-layer Gore-Tex design. The outer face is no longer flimsy and you now have wear-resistant nylon. In this case from Rapha, that nylon is also recycled, which is great to see. The membrane is then attached to the back of the face layer. Without a third layer needed, Paclite Plus continues to be lightweight compared to a three-layer garment, but is also more durable.
Inside the insulated version of the Pro Team Rain Jacket you will find lightweight 65gsm insulation. The insulation is very similar to the Polartec Alpha insulation found in the pro team’s insulated Gore-Tex jacket, but it is not the same. The design here leans towards light insulation, but perhaps more than adding warmth, it adds a cozy inner layer. If you want to use a base layer only, the liner keeps the jacket comfortable against the skin.
On the back is another feature designed to help with a base layer only approach. There are two pockets, each with a bit of elastic at the top edge. There is plenty of room to put a hand with a glove in these pockets and inside there is the possibility to inspect the inner layer of the Paclite textile. The bottom of these pockets feature a drain hole to ensure you don’t carry extra water in a storm.
With all the similar names, it’s confusing to figure out which jacket is the right jacket for your needs. I’ve spent time in both the Pro Team Insulated Gore-Tex Jacket (the one made with Shakedry) and now the Pro Team Insulated Gore-Tex Rain Jacket (with Paclite Plus). If that sounds confusing, it is. They both use a Gore-Tex exterior, have insulation on the inside, and work in the rain. Where they differ is in how best to use them.
The Pro Team Insulated Gore-Tex Jacket (Shakedry) is your ace in the hole, face any weather, no matter what, but it’s also flimsy.
The Pro Team Insulated Gore-Tex Rain Jacket (Paclite Plus), meanwhile, is more of a race-day option for shorter rides. It doesn’t support nearly as extreme weather conditions, but it’s still worth exploring depending on your needs, and it’s more durable.
When it comes to rain performance, the two-layer Paclite Plus is halfway between a hardshell and a softshell. There is a completely and totally waterproof membrane. Paclite falls under the Gore “guaranteed to keep you dry” and like other hardshell options, it doesn’t leak. Despite this performance, the outer face is able to retain water. It is less hydrophobic than Shakedry and although it starts to shed water, it acts a bit like a softshell and will eventually absorb water over time. The insulation is behind the membrane and there is very little volume available so it’s not a lot of water, but after six hours in the pouring rain, I realized that. It’s for this reason that I would reserve this jacket for a few hours of intense riding.
Insulation is also not a great option for extremes, but it works well in the right situation. When I was riding in December and the temperatures were just above freezing, this wouldn’t have been a viable option.
The emphasis here is on keeping it light and there are a few things that come together to make it work. On the one hand, the material used is very light. The other is that the fit is so tight that even wearing a long-sleeved insulated jersey like the Castelli Tutto Nano Jersey is not comfortable. The final piece is that there are pockets that allow you to only manage a base layer underneath. Put all the pieces together and it’s perfect for temperatures ranging from 4C/40F to around 10C/50F.
The biggest challenge with the Rapha Pro Team Insulated Gore-Tex Rain Jacket is understanding its purpose. With so many overlapping options and similar names, it’s hard to say which is the best choice for your needs. Check out this jacket if you are looking for a lightweight rainy day jacket for shorter rides. You’ll also want to consider this one if you’re not interested in wearing another layer underneath.
The fit is different enough from other Rapha options that you want to schedule some time to try out the options. The Shakedry jacket suits me perfectly in size small while the Rapha Brevet vest with pockets fits me in size extra small. This jacket technically fits size small, but it’s so tight, especially around the hips, that there’s not even room for an insulated jersey underneath. If you prefer a little breathing room, you’ll want to size up even compared to your size in other Rapha Pro Team products.
If you’re heading out in gloomy, cold and sometimes rainy weather to ride as hard as you can for a few hours, you’ll be very happy with this jacket. It’s a great jacket, the blue stands out against the gray sky, and it has all the features you expect from a racing jacket.
Even when placed in the right context, there are still a few details that might need a second look from Rapha designers. There’s an argument that things like pockets that lack stretch and don’t hold up much might not be an issue for short rides. You could even say the same for the wrist fit that struggles with thick gloves. There’s no getting around the short tail, which becomes even more of a problem if you’re riding a race bike without a fender.
Tech Specs: Rapha Pro Team Insulated Gore-Tex Rain Jacket
- Price: £310 / $420 / €370 / AU$540
- Available colors : Navy/White, Blue/Orange
- Sizes available: XS-XXL
- Weight: 257g size small