Some good folks representing the Gore-Tex brand recently sent over a bucket of rain-resistant products produced by different brands for us to try out. The package included gloves, shorts, a cycling cap, and this Rapha rain jacket. “Oooohh” I said aloud. “Rapha. Nice.”
Most of Rapha’s gear is really nice, at least that was the impression that I held. I hadn’t tried any of their garments yet, but rain jackets might be the best testament of an apparel brand’s ability to produce good gear, and this was a solid place to start. Having tried out many, many rain jackets before though, I knew that the good ones — the rain jackets that are light, packable, don’t feel like the inside of a Hefty bag, and are stylish — are expensive. And since this is Rapha I assumed it was doubly expensive.
But, it is also quite nice and the attention to detail was immediately noticeable. The bright but earth-toned green and deep-ocean blue command the eye’s attention, as does the hoop zipper (no room for boring metal rectangles here), and the herringbone pattern on the velcro pouch closure.
“It’s probably like $400,” I told my coworkers. Better fact check that. “Ahh, actually only $345.” Hint: Rapha has discounted the Explore jacket quite a bit as of the time of writing.
No one needs to spend this much on a rain jacket. I have reviewed others that are just as functional, will keep you just as dry, and cost half as much, but this is one of the nicest looking I’ve hung in my closet and that counts for something, even if the fine print under “something” is subjective to each prospective buyer.
Rapha uses a three-layer Gore-Tex Active material, which keeps it lightweight, breathable, and water-resistant. This is supposedly Gore-Tex’s lightest material ever. The Explore is a quarter-zip pullover, so the best way to cool off with the rain jacket on is to take it off. The pouch in front will keep maps, snacks, phones, and so on dry in a storm, and the drawcord at the waist has an integrated valve core remover. Rapha says that the jacket can be contained within itself so it becomes a little, tiny pillow.
The inside of the lightweight Gore-Tex Active material does feel really soft against the skin. The fit on my medium jacket was just about perfect for my 5’8″ self, with slim, well-cut sleeves and a slim, but not tight torso. The sleeves are elastic at the cuffs.
This year, Colorado’s rain has been on-again, off-again and a rainy Saturday was the perfect day to try it out. Though I did take the jacket off every time the sun came out and put it back on again every time it started raining, I don’t think I’d prefer it as a full-zip jacket. The styling is unique as a pullover and it looks great. The Explore is downright comfy moving around in the rain, but it quickly became warm when the clouds dispersed a little.
There are two organizing pockets inside the main pouch and they’re a good spot for energy gels or a credit card, while the main portion fits a phone or keys nicely. The jacket folds up easily into that pouch to make for a piece of padding if you happen to need a place to put your head.
I’m not sure I’ll need to use this jacket as a pillow, but the thought reflects Rapha’s made-for-adventure ethos in all of their clothing. I can almost see someone balling it up to catch some Z’s on the side of a trail in one of their cinematic videos. We all come to our own conclusions regarding the worth of a product and that’s one of the polarizing elements of the brand. For what it’s worth, it’s a damn fine rain jacket.