Above: A cold day at the air gun range
I’ve never had a Rapha jacket before so didn’t know what to expect from a size small Rapha Cross Transfer Jacket. Ordering size small did concern me slightly, being a 94cm chest – bang in the middle of small and medium. It turned out to be a good choice, the fit is snug but not suffocating; it’s safe to say that I won’t be wearing a thick jumper under it any time soon though!
I am almost completely sure that this is a unisex jacket and if it’s not, well, it looks good anyway. Apologies for the wiry hair in the pictures, must’ve forgotten to condition it!
After a bit of a goose chase just a couple of days before jetting up to Edinburgh I managed to lay my hands on a sample before it was released. It was the middle of a cold snap country wide, but as you can imagine, Scotland was around 10c colder than down south at my home in Devon. With an average temperature through my stay of just under 0c I was super surprised that my body wasn’t cold at all whilst wearing just a tshirt and this jacket on my body. My face was frozen stiff (forgot my buffs!) and even my legs were quite cold, but not my body. This warmth has made the jacket indispensable, from cold days at the rifle range to cheering on cross races and gentle rides.
Let’s talk pockets. There are four of ‘em – three are luxuriously lined and the fourth is a zip up at the back. The pocket locations – inner left chest, left and right body and one at the back. The lining on the three main pockets is soft enough for the more careful valuable owners to just throw their phone into, but personally I’m not picky about where my phone sleeps. The zips are loops which offer superior holding power when you have a pair of gloves on, or without.
The inside pocket has a hole and loop for headphones, and these loops – coloured Rapha pink, of course – are continued all the way around the arm up to the collar. By having proper routing for the headphone cable it isn’t restrictive at all and has changed my perspective on having a little hole in pockets for headphones. Previously I saw it as something in kid’s lunch boxes (mine was Bob The Builder) but now I feel like it serves a valuable use. Going from products where it is added to big up the feature list to this where it is not only well thought out but also expertly integrated is a treat.
The whole jacket is gorgeous, and I don’t use that word lightly. The right shoulder has the Rapha Focus colours stitched/embroidered in and the left arm has the distinctive arm band. Inside is lovely with the white, blue, pink, red and black colours continued – I only wish it was reversible but everyone I’ve been out with lately has been thankful it’s not. The back has the Rapha and Focus logos printed in large type, about as wide as it can comfortably be, but by using gloss black on a matt black jacket they aren’t obnoxious and instead quite understated.
Performance is a big part of why I like this jacket so much, because it’s impressive. I’ve worn quite a few ‘technical’ jackets – none of which have looked this good – and this is one of the best. The Primaloft® insulation works very well and all stays in place without any bunching even after washing and scrunching, Thermoroubaix cuffs keep out the wind and stop the sleeves riding up or down. Thermoroubaix side panels down the side of the body and sleeves also give the jacket some stretch and good flexibility. The zip is water resistant, as is the rest of the jacket as far as I’ve seen, and I’ve been in some reasonably heavy rain.
Not only would I buy it, but the attention to detail and expert craftsmanship gives me great confidence that any other products bought would be just as good. Rapha don’t seem like the type of company who would risk their name with one shoddy product, and out of the products I and friends own, they have yet to go wrong. With 5 year old ‘regularly worn’ Rapha jackets selling for more than 50% of their original price and looking pristine on eBay, I think it’s safe to say that it will last well.