Rapha Stowaway jacket
Rapha Stowaway jacket £170 (Team Issue £180)
I have to be honest, until recently, I hadn’t found much use for Rapha’s newest addition to its ever growing range, the redesigned Stowaway jacket. The recent weather however, which can’t seem to make up its mind which of the four seasons it wants to be, has provided the perfect scenario for Rapha’s latest.
RCUK tested the first incarnation of the Stowaway jacket in 2006, but while it was all fine and good, it wasn’t really ideally suited for a jacket that could potentially spend much of its life stuffed in a jersey pocket awaiting the weather window that would necessitate its use. That's all changed with the new version though, which Rapha have made some significant changes to.
Much of the redesign is evident in the much lighter weight fabric it's now made from. It's noticeably thinner between the fingers, feeling a little delicate even (you'll want to look after it with care), and rolls down to just 165g (for a medium). The new fabric allows it to virtually disappear inside a jersey pocket and it'll go unnoticed until the next rain shower when its services will be called upon again.
And when you do call upon its services, it fits with the usual impeccable high standards Rapha have become synonymous with. It's close fitting with a high neck, and smart Lyrca cuffs provide a sealed environment that prevents water finding a way in. The fabric is breathable to a high degree and can be worn for substantial periods before heat build-up becomes too much, by which point it'll probably have stopped raining and it can go back in the your pocket.
The Stowaway doesn’t want many features - they'd only add weight - but Rapha have added just enough without going overboard. Such as the dropped rear for superb bum coverage and curved sleeves for a better fit and little restriction of movement. Reflective stripes on the sleeves along with the Rapha logo on the back give huge visibility when riding to work or in the country lanes.
While the Stowaway, as its name suggests, is a jacket to be called upon only when the weather demands it, the new material Rapha have used is quite incredible. It’s breathable to a high degree and while it’s water resistant (rather than water proof) I’ve been caught in several downpours of duration with just the Stowaway, hastily stuffed in a pocket with one final glance up at the sky before heading out the front door, to save me from getting drenched. And save me it did. For hour after hour when only then did the rain start winning the battle.
Following this test, the Stowaway really can be worn for long periods of time when the weather demands. And further testament to Rapha’s faith in the Stowaway as an all-round rain jacket is the addition of such details as the small zipped pocket on the front for storing valuables and reinforced strips across the shoulders intended for reducing wear and tear from hooking a courier bag over the shoulder.