The Rapha Trail Lightweight jacket is designed to be lightweight, packable and windproof rather than rain proof.
Although Rapha offers an extensive range of jackets, including a couple of waterproof models, the Tapah Trail Lightweight jacket is the only item of mountain bike-specific outerwear. Rapha has applied a DWR to the ripstop nylon fabric, so it should have some resistance to light rain.
Rapha has made a name for itself in the road cycling market over the last 15 years, becoming the trendy brand for well-heeled MAMILs across the globe. This year it has expanded into MTB (and gravel) with a full top-to-toe line-up of garments sporting its familiar signature armband style.
Rapha has certainly delivered on its promise of light weight – it’s the second lightest jacket in our best mountain bike jackets group test, so it’s no chore to take with you on a changeable day. Equally, it packs down to the size of a Devon pasty (top crimp) measuring 18cm x 9cm x 8cm, so it can realistically be stored in a jersey back pocket, hip pack or attached to your frame with the supplied strap.
The cut is on the slim side, but definitely not tight, and there’s room for layering up underneath. Although there’s very little stretch to the fabric, it allows plenty of dynamic movement when you’re riding.
As you’d expect considering the sub-200g weight, the Trail jacket is pared back in terms of features. There’s the chest pocket that doubles as a stash bag, a smooth-running YKK zip, simple elasticated cuffs and a hood that just about pulls up over a helmet. This does lift the collar up around your nose though, so it’s not that comfortable. Rapha has added drawcords at the hood and the drop hem to let you seal out the wind should you wish.
Despite the DWR, the Trail Lightweight let in lots of water during our test. Much more than its closest competitors in fact – the Specialized SWAT and the Troy Lee Designs Shuttle. It’s unfair to criticise Rapha for this, since it doesn’t promote the Trail Lightweight as waterproof, but it’s worth knowing. And in terms of breathability it was OK but nothing special – we found the sleeves in particular got quite clammy when climbing.
As a back-up jacket for chilly days or a bit of extra protection if there’s a threat of a shower, the Rapha Trail Lightweight is a decent option. We like the cut, the low weight and the packability, but for £30 more you could have a proper waterproof like the Endura GV500, or for £20 less you could have the lighter, more packable Specialized SWAT and stay drier too.