In a crowded long-sleeve jersey market, Rapha’s Trail Windblock jersey does stand out – as you’d hope considering its price tag – being versatile enough to wear in a range of temperatures, which is just as well as weather conditions can vary wildly even over the course of a ride.
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This versatility is thanks to its combination of fine merino wool for breathability overlayered with windproof Nylon at the front. It pairs well with Rapha’s Trail Pants, both the Lightweight version (as in the photos) and the thicker standard pants, and the signature band on the left arm is a nod to Rapha’s heritage and adds a touch of style.
This top also comes with repair patches (for the sleeves only) and other damage qualifies for Rapha’s free repair service. There’s a men’s version too, identical bar the color options.
Design and material
Rapha has constructed its Trail Windblock jersey from a mix of merino and Nylon. The main body is actually a wool blend (52 percent merino, 48 percent Nylon) that gives a super-thin and lightweight 145gsm fabric, with the Nylon adding durability. The pink/red (in this jersey) front panel has a second, separate, layer sewn onto it, made of a fine, windproof ripstop nylon. Meanwhile, the sleeves are mostly nylon with polyester and elastane for a bit of stretch; Rapha says the fabric is hardwearing and tear-resistant. Underarm is a diamond-shaped wool blend gusset, for ventilation and freedom of movement.
Design is minimal and clean. A high neck keeps drafts out while the sleeves are cut ergonomically so they’re the right shape for cycling; they’re also a good length and finished with a snug wool blend cuff. Another thoughtful detail is that there are no seams at the shoulder that might rub under pack straps. Body length is middling, and my sample has a very subtle dropped rear hem (although the photos on Rapha’s website show a more obvious drop hem).
First impressions on pulling this top on are the soft, luxurious feel of the fabric and its feathery weight; second is that the sleeves are actually long enough for me (something I often struggle with in riding tops). In contrast, the body length isn’t overly generous, something to watch if you have a long torso, but for me it was ample paired with Rapha’s Women's Trail Lightweight Pants, even stretched out on the bike. And it just feels ‘right’, especially with neat details like articulated sleeves, for total comfort on the bike.
Overall fit is relaxed, not bodyhugging like some baselayers, which limits its wicking ability but is fine on milder days and does allow you to wear a wicking undershirt beneath when it’s colder. I found my back did get sweaty beneath my pack – as it does, no matter what I’m wearing – but the beauty of wool is that it stays warm when wet, and the fabric is reasonably fast-drying thanks to its synthetic content.
The front panel does a good job keeping the cold air out, saving me having to don my windproof vest on descents and open terrain, without feeling too hot. The long sleeves aren’t windproof but add a surprising amount of warmth. If I were being picky, I’d say it’d be nice to have the option to pull the sleeves up when the temperature warms up, but the narrow forearms prevent this. Also, you might snag the merino cuffs if your gloves have Velcro wrist tabs. However, the sleeves and front fabric shrugged off spiky undergrowth pretty well, backing up Rapha’s ‘tear-resistant’ claims.
There’s no denying it’s a sizable investment for a cycling top , but if you can afford it then Rapha’s Trail Windblock jersey is a great addition to your cycling wardrobe, perfect for cool fall and spring days but maybe not the best for mid-winter if you tend to get very sweaty. The navy/pink option (pictured here) is currently half price on Rapha’s website. Rapha also offers a 10 percent discount off your first order.
Tech specs: Rapha Women’s Trail Windblock Jersey
- Price: $135 / £100
- Weight: 147g (size Small tested)
- Sizes: XXS -XL
- Colors: Navy/pink, navy/grey, black/pistachio, black