by Molly Hurford
If you watch Parks and Recreation at all, you may be familiar with this scene, and the three little words that may inspire a hefty chunk of your bike and bike accessory buying: “Treat Yo Self.” You spend most of your spare time on the bike, so why not make it the most comfortable (and stylish) time that you possibly can? With that in mind, I checked out the Rapha Women’s Gilet.
Our cartoonist at Cyclocross Magazine, at a recent night MTB ride that may have included some pirate trails, looked me up and down as we waited in line for post-ride burritos. “Whoa, are you in all Rapha?” I could see him mentally tallying up the cost of the kit I was wearing: about the cost of a mid-range wheelset. It’s true that brands like Rapha and Assos have a reputation for being a bit on the expensive end of the spectrum. But, as someone who’s been using the same Rapha wallet and softshell jacket for the past two years, I can safely say that in the long run, in those cases, the quality matched the cost. I’m happy to report that with the Women’s Gilet as well, it seems to be worth the investment.
The windproof vest is tailored for women, meaning it’s a bit nipped in at the waist, already putting it ahead of any other comparable men’s models. It’s a great piece to have for those in-between temperature rides, where it starts out warm but has the potential to end a bit chilly. Case in point: the aforementioned night ride with the CXM crew started out balmy, but as the sun set, it quickly dropped 10 degrees. The vest is specifically designed to be lightweight, at only 115 grams for the medium size, and packable, meaning it neatly folds up into your jersey pocket, ready to be pulled out when the temperature starts dropping or the wind picks up.
Unlike some other vests and windjackets, the Gilet has pockets, so there’s plenty of space to keep various sundries for easy access (like snacks!) while valuables like car keys are tucked in jersey pockets under the vest. I also appreciated the extra length in the back, making sure that even down in the drops, my back was totally covered. The size small fit well (I’m 5’4″), even over a jersey and long-sleeve baselayer, though I doubt it would fit over a heftier jacket.
I’m the first to look at pricetags and scoff, and then look for the same product, just a cheaper version. However, having tried other wind vests in the past, I can safely say that this one has stood out as my favorite, and is the one that I’ll be sporting pre-riding courses, out on endurance rides, and riding around town. It’s sporty and designed to be ridden in, but like most Rapha apparel, it’s got enough style to hold up to scrutiny when paired with jeans and a messenger bag on a grocery store run.
A word to the wise though: the vest is offered in cream or black, so for the cyclocrossers out there who plan on using it for off-road riding, the black may be the smarter option.
- MSRP: $190
- Sizes: XXS-XL
- More Info: Rapha