As part of Rapha’s seemingly ever-expanding mountain bike apparel collection, the Rapha Trail GORE-TEX Infinium Jacket was released last September ready to take on the impending foul weather of winter.
Rapha’s new mountain bike jacket combines Gore-Tex’s Infinium material with the brand's subtle styling to produce a great-looking trail riding jacket. It's a great option that's kept me dry on some really miserable rides, however, it's not perfect and there are a few elements that will be deal-breakers for some.
A jacket first and foremost needs to keep the inclement weather outside. Gore-Tex’s Infinium material isn’t technically waterproof, in fact Gore refers to Infinium as non-waterproof. Instead, the material focuses on being windproof and breathable in order to work across a broader range of temperatures. The breathability is further enhanced with tight mesh panel gussets under the arms to help heat escape, these are also stretchy to keep freedom of movement.
The Infinium is backed with Gore-Tex’s C-KNIT Backer Technology which uses a dense but thin circular knit inside. Not only comfortable next to the skin, C-Knit is also claimed to enhance breathability and reduce the weight of the materials according to Gore-Tex.
Rapha has fitted a hood that's easily big enough to swallow a helmet and it’s finished with a stiffened peak to make sure it's easy to pull on and keep it in place. There is also an elasticated drawstring around the back to cinch it in when you need to batten down the hatches when it's very windy or you are riding really fast. If you want to store the hood away, there's also a small loop on the inside that can be looped over the toggle to hold the rolled-up hood in place which is a nice touch that you don't see on many MTB jackets.
There are two drawstrings along the hem to keep out any chilly drafts or wheel spray. The cuffs don’t have any fiddly Velcro sections to do up or attract dirt, instead, they are just elasticated giving a close fit around my wrists.
Rapha has opted for a robust YKK zipper with a storm flap behind it to eliminate drafts and is topped with soft zip garages. It's only a single zipper though and I would much prefer to see a double-ender in order to open the bottom of the jacket up when riding.
There is a external zipped chest pocket on the left breast and a second internal zipped chest pocket on the right.
Rapha offers a good range of sizes from XS-XXL in men and XXS-XL in the women's fit, there are also three color options in both the men's and women's jackets.
Rapha’s Trail Gore-Tex Infinium jacket has a great fit, the arms are a really good length and everything sits close enough that there is no excess flapping. I did find the body of the jacket to be on the long side and although it didn't affect comfort or performance in any way, it did cause the front of the jacket to bulge a little when riding. The fit is on the trim side but that helps keep excess material to a minimum and I still had enough space to get a few layers on underneath to keep me insulated without limiting movement. The refined fit meant I found the jacket to be very versatile too using it on winter trail, XC, and gravel rides too.
Although Gore specifically states that the Infinium is not waterproof and Rapha only advertises the jacket to be water resistant, I would say it did a great job at keeping the rain on the outside. Even during some really wet and windy winter conditions, the Infinium material was able to maintain a proper barrier between myself and the elements. This is further helped by the hood which is well-shaped and gives great coverage.
Breathability is decent as well, the pairing of Infinium material and stretchy thick mesh underarms regulate temperature when required. It’s marketed as a cold weather jacket though so it will start to get a bit humid inside above six degrees C, if you do get a bit wet inside, the windproofing is really good so you won't suffer from windchill at the top of the climb. I would like to see a double zip to dump out heat on long ascents, however, the Rapha Trail jacket still performed better than most.
Speccing two chest pockets but no hand pockets seems to be an odd design choice. I like to store my phone in an outside chest pocket for easy access, however, the second chest pocket on the inside of the jacket felt redundant. I would much prefer to have some hand pockets which could be used to store gloves, snacks or other quick-to-hand trail necessities, not to mention helping keep hands warm when standing around.
Rapha’s Trail Gore-Tex Infinium jacket is an excellent choice for trail riding when the conditions are challenging. High-performance materials over-deliver on waterproof performance and it breaths well. The jacket's lightweight means it folds down pretty small too making it a great option when changeable conditions might demand proper weather protection.
There are a few hang-ups though that could put some riders off this jacket. I found the length to be a little long on the body and although I don't use them for storage, I often missed the convenience and comforts of having hand pockets. The biggest deal breaker for me is that it doesn't have a double zip, although I'm not sure everyone will share my priorities.
The price is high although still on par with other similar performance-focused premium trail jackets like the 7Mesh Skypilot and Albion Zoa. Rapha has clearly put a lot of thought and time into making the design as minimal whilst still optimizing performance as much as possible. However, it's hard to ignore the fact that Gore’s own Lupra jacket uses the same Infinium material for considerably less money.
The Rapha Trail Gore-Tex Infinium jacket is available direct from Rapha at Rapha.cc.
Tech specs: Rapha Trail Gore-Tex Infinium jacket
- Price: $375 / £295 / €335
- Weight: 310g (M)
- Sizes: XS-XXL
- Colors: Black/Light Grey (tested), Blue/Navy, Purple/Black