Review: Rapha Lightweight Transfer Jacket
It might be a good idea to think of Rapha's Lightweight Transfer jacket outside of the sphere of cycling, because it has the potential for so much more.
This is a jacket with quite a narrow range of intended purposes. If you always fancied racing cyclocross - you now have the ideal garment for pre-and post ride hanging around. Or turbo training. When you're just getting going this is the jacket that will take the chill away.
If you indulge in any of the above, you should have got this jacket long ago, but the versatility of the Lightweight Transfer Jacket means its usefulness extends way beyond standing in a field with mud and cow pats up to your knees. I am, for instance wearing the jacket right now, typing in a room that could do with a bit more heating. It's as far as you can physically get from a cyclocross course.
This is the second incarnation of Rapha's Transfer Jacket and leans more towards everyday use than its predecessor, which was built with a shoulder pad for carrying a bike more comfortably, and an offset zip, which prevents zips bulking up when layering but also results in one hip pocket being as good as useless and the other so deep that any valuable that goes in it is unlikely to ever be seen again. The tail is also less obviously dropped while still managing to cover a decent amount of rear end.
These revisions were something of a gamble for Rapha. On the one hand the new version is more suited to casual, everyday wear; on the other it isn't quite so useful for cycling. You might think.
There are, however, aspects of the Lightweight Transfer Jacket that make it absolutely ideal for cycling. The Polartec Alpha insulation for instance, that was developed for use by special forces and is incredibly lightweight and packs down to a fraction of its bulk, while remaining nicely warm when in use. And the windproofing to the front panel that adequately blocks out cold breezes.
The extreme light weight and packability allows the jacket to be a constant companion when on the move. When not required, it is ideal for tucking away into hand luggage or as a warm layer in your backpack to pull out on chilly spring evenings.
The outer fabric has a DWP (durable water repellant) coating and is also incredibly soft, which means if you have stuffed the jacket into a tiny ball it won't be long before the creases drop out. There are also some really neat design features such as canvas trim that encloses over the zip to help keep the draught out and zipped hip pockets. Storm cuffs stop draughts going up your arms.
The ultimate test of the Transfer Jacket is whether it is actually warm, and when considered for its intended use then it is. This is not a jacket for freezing temperatures though; if you're going to wear it as outerwear you'll need to layer up a bit, and for something approaching double figures on the thermometer. As a mid layer, beneath something substantially warm, it is ideal. This is where the Lightweight Transfer Jacket offers another solution, as a sort of super-lightweight substitute for a cardigan.
This is a prime example of where Rapha is taking its City collection. While the cycling benefits of this garment are obvious, you wouldn't immediately twig that this is made by a cycling brand. That in our eyes is what makes the new Lightweight Transfer Jacket even more desirable, and why we can't think of a week since we got it when it hasn't been worn.
Summary: An insulated jacket that you wouldn't immediately realise was made for cycling, incredibly lightweight and packable. Water resistant coating adds to versatility and total lightweight comfort makes it a garment that will become a true favourite, especially when travelling. Good for insulation on chillier days but not great for extreme cold.
4.5 / 5