Rapha’s lightweight trail T-Shirt is a breathable and rapidly wicking riding jersey for when the thermometer rises. It would have been included in the summer riding kit group test a couple of issues ago if the matching shorts had arrived on time, so it's getting a well-earned shot in the limelight here.
Rapha’s combination of fabric and fit is seriously effective at keeping you cool and airy when it’s scorching, yet it doesn’t use such an open mesh that it lets too much wind through when it’s a little cooler. The top uses a combination of two feathery-thin fabrics, with the main front panel and sleeves appearing to use the same 90gsm honeycomb texture as the regular Rapha Technical Trail T-Shirt. On the reverse, an even thinner super-stretchy (road bike jersey style) material forms the back panel, and this is also ultra-fast drying and breathable.
The honeycomb structure is designed to float fabric slightly off the skin and encourage airflow, and has a micro-porous structure that’s effective at feeding air in and over skin. Wicking and drying time is class-leading, and there’s also a nice feel against skin, where the material doesn’t get too clingy when sodden with sweat. Interestingly, the honeycomb front appears to dry faster than the thinner rear, but this may also be a consequence of catching more wind as you ride along or descend.
Like the rest of Rapha’s repairable kit, the addition of an iron-on colour matched patch is a neat sustainable touch, and the whole jersey uses lower-impact recycled materials in the first place. This kind of attention to detail, using different weaves and textures in different zones and offering a more open and lighter hem on the neck to enhance cooling, totally trumps the detail on most MTB jerseys.
I’ve worn this Rapha Lightweight Trail T-shirt when it’s both boiling hot, and as part of a layering system under a lightweight jacket or waterproof, and it works just as well in each scenario. Overall, it offers superior performance than many rivals for a similar price.