Rapha has offered its fully-waterproof, taped seam, nothing-will-get-through it pro-team rain jacket, which it calls a race cape, for a few seasons now, and while nothing indeed does get through it, this turned out to be one of the main issues for many users. Because just as water didn’t get in, sweat didn’t get out, either.
Which is one of the main stumbling blocks for rain jackets, especially those designed for use in race conditions - the moisture a body in full exertion produces overwhelms the breathability of the fabric, thus rendering the user a soggy mess.
Rapha does actually offer a handy tape strip on the arm of its Pro-Team race cape to allow those riding in warmer climates to dispense with the bottom half of their sleeves.
Successive incarnations of this jacket have seen breathability improve and the addition of zipped cuffs allow better circulation of air. But the most promising development has come from Team Sky who were going a step further and cutting the arms clean off their rain capes.
This season Rapha has decided to spare them the bother and so was born the pro-team rain gilet.
It is quite amazing the difference the absence of a pair of arms can do to the usefulness of a garment. What was once something that would only be deployed in the event of a particularly nasty downpour has become a fairly standard kit option - the lack of sleeves providing the perfect balance to the total wind and waterproofing of the gilet itself, which is manufactured from exactly the same material as the race cape and also includes taped seams.
Don’t get us wrong, there have been times when the rain gilet has become a little too warm for comfort, but that’s the point of gilets really, easy to get on and off, a doddle to stash away in a pocket. And the data print is really noticeable, even if it does seem to resemble camouflage at first glance.
If the weather turns particularly nasty you will still want to grab the race cape proper but for everything else, there’s the rain gilet.
Summary: The solid weather protection of the race cape, without any arms. It might seem an unnecessary addition to the pro-team range when you first think about it, and then it makes perfect sense. Something you will use time and time again.
4.5 / 5