Rapha Men's Commuter Lightweight Jacket review - great for all but the most ferocious winter warriors

A well made – and highly breathable – showerproof jacket that rolls up small for easy packability

Rapha Men's Commuter Lightweight Jacket
(Image credit: M. Grele)
Cycling Weekly Verdict

At $115 / £85 RRP this is a good value jacket. It's well made, highly breathable and waterproof enough to deal with a shower. Plus it rolls up reasonably small. If you are mostly riding in the daytime, you can be visible with the Pink or Yellow version or more discreet with the other remaining colours. Also, as you're likely to keep it on you most of the time, it's small pack-size is a real bonus.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Nicely breathable and showerproof

  • +

    Lightweight (226g for a Men's medium)

  • +

    Relaxed cut allows room for 'normal' clothes underneath

  • +

    Decent price

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Not designed for the foulest conditions

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The Rapha Commuter Lightweight Jacket is designed to "keep you cool in a rush, and dry in a rain shower". Weighing in at a decent 226g (medium) it's easy to carry in a bag for all eventualities. Its looser cut is designed to be worn with a t-shirt or jumper, and the highly breathable fabric should prevent overheating - together all of these qualities make Rapha's offering one of the best commuter cycling jackets.

There are five colours in the range; Black, Dark Navy, Dark Purple, Lime Green & High-Vis Pink and six sizes from XS to XXL. There is a Lady's version available too, in sizes XXS to XL with Pale Blue and Mauve colour options in addition to the High-Vis Pink.

Rapha Men's Commuter Lightweight Jacket

(Image credit: M. Grele)

Rapha Commuter Lightweight Jacket: construction

The jacket is made from 100 per cent Polyester fabric that's windproof and water-resistant, with the seams taped to help slow any water ingress. This might seem a little like shutting the door after the horse has bolted – why go to the trouble of weatherproofing the seams if the fabric isn't an impermeable shield itself?

But, actually, this is a design that we're seeing more commonly – Castelli's highly regarded RoS jackets are another key example – and the results is really the best of both worlds.

As a rule, the more waterproof a fabric the less breathable it becomes. Throwing money at the problem can mitigate this to some extent – but not so much if the price point is held as a constant. 

The second point to make is that it really doesn't take much weatherproofing for the seams to become a greater weak point than the fabric itself. As a result, jackets that are nominally 'water-resistant' – but which have taped seams – offer a pretty stellar blend between breathability and rain-protection.

As for the rest of the jacket, there are two zipped hand pockets, either of which can become used as a stuff sack for the compact self storage of the garment. The double cuff design keeps the jacket more weathertight while still allowing a wider arm diameter for bulkier clothes. 

An integrated hood can be worn under a helmet or rolled back using a securing strap when not needed. Both the hood and the waist may be cinched to get a closer fit.

Rapha Commuter Lightweight Jacket: the ride

On test was a medium jacket in the High-Vis Pink colour option. The medium size fitted well with its relaxed cut and easily fitted over a t-shirt and fleece. Whilst the colour would not have been my usual choice I had many compliments about it and there is a lot to say for being visible in rush hour traffic! You can, of course, choose a more subdued colour if you'd prefer. 

I found the jacket to be plenty waterproof enough for short showers and very breathable. When worn with just a t-shirt the fabric didn't feel clammy against the skin, and I was able to wear my backpack comfortably without getting a sweaty back. 

The hood can be worn easily under a helmet, with it allowing you to turn your head from side-to-side to see properly. It does, of course, mask your hearing a little, but at least you have the choice whether to wear it or not. The hood front is cut to allow peripheral vision, which is great for cycling but you do get a wet face if you're walking as there isn't a peak! 

The lower back reflective panel is pretty large and is meant to sit underneath a commuting backpack to aid visibility in low light or night conditions.

The jacket can be kept compact using a pocket as a stuff sack, roughly 18cm x 15cm x 10 cm or it can be folded then rolled into its hood, again roughly 20cm x 10cm x 8cm, the latter size fitting well into an external backpack pocket (Camelbak Mule 22L). Ready for action!

When riding with the jacket there is a bit of arm flap, but as the fabric is quite soft it doesn't get noisy. It's what you'd expect from a looser cut of clothing. Also the zip-able pockets are a good size but they sit a little low when you cycle, so your leg gets knocked with the contents, they are however great when you're walking. 

But you've got a bag when you're commuting – haven't you?

Rapha Commuter Lightweight Jacket: value and conclusion

At $115 / £85 RRP this is a good value jacket, it's well made, very breathable, waterproof enough to deal with a shower and rolls up reasonable small. 

Comparison to the $260 / £190 Altura Nightvision Electron Jacket, for example, is tricky as they are really rather different items – despite both being commuter jackets. The Altura is a bulkier jacket, it won't roll up as small, it is about twice the price, but has the brilliant option of lighting up! 

If however you are mostly riding in the daytime you can be visible with the Pink or Yellow version or more discreet with the other remaining colours. Also you're more likely to keep it on you most of the time as it can be stashed away in a commuting bag until you need it. 

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Over 40 years cycling in a variety of disciplines including road riding, commuting, a self-supported Land's End to John o' Groats trip, XC mountain biking and several Polaris Challenge two-day events. Adventure, escape and fun are the motivations for my riding. I also love bike and kit design and have fillet brazed a couple of framesets using Reynolds 853 steel tubing for myself. A very satisfying experience to ride your own bespoke bike!

Height: 180cm

Weight: 66kg