At the tail end of Spring, Rapha sent over some samples from their Summer collection for testings. Following in the footsteps of their first wave of apparel, the brand is rolling out a lightweight lineup for warm weather riding. Up first for review is their Trail Lightweight T-Shirt…
- 68% recycled polyester / 100% total polyester
- UV protection
- 30 day guarantee with free repairs
- XS – XXL
- $80.00 USD
Starting with material, this is where Rapha is just flat out superior. The brand has been around the block in the road world, and they are now bringing ultra premium fabrics into the MTB world. The front panel is made from plush, airy fabric that is soft to the touch, breathes incredibly well and moves nicely.
The armband is a signature touch for Rapha that crosses right on over into MTB. It serves no purpose, but it is distinct…
The jersey is ultra minimalist and lightweight but they do manage to sneak in a hang tag for easy drying…
Along with an inspiring message.
Tail drop is always a welcome touch. Some apparel brands somehow even manage to forget this crucial aspect, but a longer back and a shorter front just make sense as it helps crud (from the back wheel) from going down in your waistband when you dip into a descending position.
On the trail
Beginning with fit, at 6′ tall the Large was perfectly sized – as it should be – and I had zero qualms with proportionality or any other fit related aspect. If there is one thing that I’ve noticed from Rapha based on their first wave of test gear, it’s that they do an incredible job with their seams and gusseting. Each panel is thoughtfully laid out to rest nicely in a standard climbing position, but their garments also feel natural when you’re just walking around and move freely when you’re getting rowdy. Long story short, from bibs to pants to jerseys, there are never any poorly placed seams that bind up or inhibit movement. The layout of the underarm panels – pictured below – exemplifies this approach with the jersey on test. So, needless to say, from a fit and finish / cut and sew aspect, this top could not possibly be better thought out.
The other aspect in which Rapha just gets it is in the materials. I recently moved to an area that gets scalding hot in the Summer and that heat is often accompanied by a fair amount of humidity. This minty color that I tested is the lightest of the lot of four possible colors, so of course it was the coolest. That said, the bulk of the heat management comes from the fabric itself. The front panel is airier and more porous so it breathes nicely and when you get up to speed you feel a nice draft. The rear panel however has more of a techy gym garment feel to it – super stretchy but more tightly woven. I was initially apprehensive as regards how well it would dissipate heat and moisture, but in the end it proved to keep very cool, wick moisture well and dry rapidly. One last nice touch was that this jersey does feature UV protection, so if you’re a bum like me and you skip the sunscreen and go straight for the farmer’s tan, you won’t get burnt.
All told, Rapha’s Trail Lightweight Tee Shirt has been the perfect top for hot Summer weather. It’s flawlessly cut and uses the best materials available. Yes, at $80 it’s a little expensive, but it has been tough so far, hasn’t taken on any odors – which is impressive according to my wife – and is backed by a 30 day guarantee and free repairs. In each of my reviews I make a point to find at least some sort of flaw that is worthy of note…in this case I am coming up short – sorry!