The Rapha women’s winter collection features some very good looking pieces of kit; the long sleeved cycling jerseys and jackets are particularly smart. I’ve been testing the Rapha Women’s Souplesse Jacket and Women’s Padded Tights in recent weeks.
The Rapha Souplesse women’s jacket is soft and comfortable to wear. It’s lightweight, hugs the body in a very comforting way and doesn’t ride up.
This is my first winter of road cycling and, as a winter creature who longs for cosy knits and boots all year long, I’ve been looking forward to bundling up and putting cold weather kit to the test. But this year, it’s hard. We’re now well into December yet the mercury remains frustratingly high: the challenge isn’t keeping warm, it’s staying dry and upright when high winds are buffeting you from every direction. For those of you reading from cooler climes, it’s been so mild this week that I’ve been able to wear short fingered gloves for commuting… So, while I’m testing winter kit, it’s not being put through its paces in brutally cold conditions and I can’t comment on its effectiveness in subzero temperatures.
The Rapha women’s winter collection features some very good looking pieces of kit; the long sleeved cycling jerseys and jackets are particularly smart.
I’ve cycled in the Rapha Women’s Souplesse Jacket and Women’s Padded Tights four times now, in temperatures ranging from 6 to 12 degrees Celsius. They have also been worn in rain, drizzle and high winds. The jacket has been laundered twice and the tights four times.
Let’s start at the top and work our way down.
Rapha Women’s Souplesse Jacket
Style & Design Features
- Water repellent
- Form fitting
- Reflective detailing for visibility at night
- Zipped pockets on the sleeve and back for credit card and keys
- Cosy brushed lining for warmth and softness
The Women’s Souplesse Jacket is available in black and pink, or the colour I’m wearing, which is described as blue. I can assure you it is not blue. It is most definitely purple – a lovely strong violet, with a contrasting back in a deep magenta hue.
Comfort & Performance
The Rapha Souplesse jacket is beautifully soft and comfortable to wear: it’s lightweight and hugs the body in a very comforting way. The lining is fleecy and feels, for want of a better word, snuggly against bare skin on milder days.
The off-centre zip is sturdy and easy to adjust one-handed if you’re feeling warm as you pedal (as I invariably do).
The jacket is fairly water resistant: not one to wear in a torrential downpour, but fine for drizzly outings. It’s breathable and the brushed lining means that it doesn’t feel damp and clammy making it a useful cycling jacket for the recent mild, damp weather.
Overall, the Rapha Souplesse Women’s Jacket is a cracking cut: feminine, flattering and not at all boxy.
It washed well at 30 degrees and dried overnight easily.
Fit & Sizing
The Rapha Women’s Souplesse Jacket errs a little on the small side: I’m wearing size Large which is comfortable but comparable in size to a Medium at Isadore Apparel or Rivelo. I’d definitely recommend ordering one size up from your usual.
I can comfortably fit a baselayer and jersey underneath the jacket which has plenty of stretch: it doesn’t feel restrictive with extra layers underneath.The sleeves are very nice: close fitting, plenty long enough and featuring a comfortable contrast cuff which feels and looks good.
I would like the jacket to be a little longer in the front: the back is spot on but an extra inch on that front hem would be welcome. I’m not unusually tall at 5’7″ but it feels a little bit skimpy in body length.
Overall, the Rapha Women’s Souplesse Jacket is a cracking cut: feminine, flattering and not at all boxy.
To buy, or not to buy?
£190 isn’t cheap, but for a good winter outer layer, you can expect to pay upwards of £150. If we compare it to the well known Castelli Gabba and the lesser known Isadore Apparel Women’s Merino Membrane Softshell Jacket, I would say it is more versatile and comfortable than the former, and more flattering but less robust than the latter.
The Rapha Women’s Souplesse is a beautifully cut, comfortable women’s cycling jacket which is flattering for feminine curves with plenty of well thought out design features. I like it a lot – it makes me feel foxy when I’m out riding, which has to be a good sign. I would say it’s a Buy. (Or one to put on your Christmas list).
Rapha Women’s Padded Tights
Style & Design Features
- High-rise waist with grippy waistband to keep them in place
- ThermoRoubaix fleece-lined fabric for warmth
- Back pocket
- Reflective calf stripes for visibility
The Rapha Women’s Padded Tights come in one colour, black. They’re a really true, solid black and they’re not remotely see-through which is always good. (Nobody needs to see my cellulite rippling through flimsy Lycra.) I do think it’s a shame the tights don’t come in navy like the ¾ version; I’d happily switch it up from time to time.
Comfort & Performance
One of the nicest things about these tights is the absence of any uncomfortable zips around the ankles. Zips to the side hurt my ankle bones and zips at the back hurt my Achilles tendon, so I’m very happy to wear a pair of women’s cycling tights that have a stretchy enough opening that no zips are required.
The waistband stays put nice and high thanks to the cut and the silicone grippers, so there’s no danger of a gap appearing between top and bottoms. (Nobody likes a gap between their top and bottom when they’re pedaling).
That said, for those of us with – let’s say – less-than-perfect abs, there is no escaping the fact that waist tights result in muffin top in a way that bib tights never do. I think I will be probably stick to bib tights in the future for a smoother silhouette (at least until the, erm, 100 stomach crunches I’m doing each day take effect….)
(Oh, who am I kidding? My squidgy abdomen is here to stay…)
The chamois pad is very comfortable indeed, and the tights have washed well (four times now, at 30 degrees and air-dried overnight).
The waistband stays put thanks to the high cut and silicone grippers, so there’s no danger of a gap between top and bottoms. (Nobody likes a gap between their top and bottom when they’re pedalling in the cold).
To buy, or not to buy?
The fabric is superb. The pad is very comfortable. They sit nicely on the waist, and they don’t have any irritating zips around the ankles. They get a wholehearted thumbs up for quality and comfort.
If you’re a dedicated winter warrior in need of comfort and warmth year round, the Rapha Women’s Winter Tights are a sound purchase – despite the slightly wince-inducing £150 price tag.
You can buy both items from the Rapha.cc website.