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Review: Rapha Gore-Tex Infinium Trail jacket

Windproof, water-resistant and comfortable option for wet-weather riding

After a successful off-road debut, Rapha continues to wade further into the world of mountain biking apparel. With the Gore-Tex Infinium Trail jacket, the brand now covers all seasons from California summer heat to wet west coast winters. We’ve been riding the Infinium Trail out on Vancouver Island all winter and it is holding its own, with a slightly different take on rain gear than what’s out there right now.

Rapha Trail Jacket
Rapha Trail Infinium jacket provides good coverage without getting in the way on the bike

Rapha Gore-Tex Infinium Trail jacket

Rapha already has a lightweight jacket, aimed more at blocking wind and covering the occasional showers. The Trail Infinium jacket targets full-on fall and rainy winter rides where the temperatures are lower and the precipitation steadier and more substantial.

Gore-Tex’s Infinium fabric is a windproof and, as Rapha describes, “extremely water-resistant softshell” fabric. Rapha is careful to say that it is not waterproof.

Rapha Trail Jacket with the hood up
A comfy fit and an over-helmet hood

Performance: Rapha vs. January

In the wild, the Trail jacket cuts through wind very effectively. This makes the jacket nice and warm, even when you do get up to speed on the descents. It is still breathable, so you don’t turn into a sauna on climbs. But, without full-zip pit vents, it can be on the warmer side compared to some other jackets. Rapha does have a more breathable material down the torso and underarm in the same area that lets some air through, but it’s not the same as a full vent. I tend to run hot and often ended up opening the front zipper to cool down when it wasn’t a full downpour. Anyone looking for a bit of extra heat retention will be happy with the Infinium Trail jacket.

As for rain, the Trail Infinium lives up to its water-resistant claims. Light and steady rain will bead-up and roll off of the fabric. It’s not until you’re spending a good amount of time in heavy rain that moisture starts to get through. Even on solid rides in heavy rain I still didn’t find myself uncomfortably soaked and, with the windproofing, never felt cold.

All this did end up with some serious laundry to do. I had doubts that the purple test jacket would be able to completely shed all the grit, but it came away clean every wash. Like most Gore-Tex materials, the Infinium does require a special washing process (though it can be done in a washing machine).

Riding: fit and features

On the bike, the Trail Infinium jacket disappears more than some other heavy-duty winter jackets. This could be because the stretchy material used on the under-arm and cuff areas lets the Trail jacket move more freely than a zippered joint. The softshell fabric is quiet and just stretchy enough that it is more comfortable than a hardshell garment.

The hood is comfortable (and has a draw cord to keep it from flapping around when not in use) and fits over most helmets. Full-face helmets were a stretch, but even then the hood stayed in place while riding.

Crucially, Rapha includes two zippered chest pockets. The left pocket is on the outside of the chest for easy access. The right chest pocket is safely tucked away inside the jacket for more delicate items. Both fit a cell phone or bar or whatever you’d like to carry.

Rapha offers the Infinium Trail in six sizes from XS to XXL. A Large jacket left enough room for a warm layer underneath without feeling constrained and didn’t feel loose or bulky over a lighter layer. It’s somewhere between race and relaxed fit. There is a slight tail to the jacket, just enough to not leave a gap between the hem and your pants waist while riding. The sleeves are, thankfully, long enough to keep wrists covered while in a riding position. Only an elastic kept the wrists tight, instead of an adjustable strap. I was leery of this at first, but the sleeves were comfortable and stayed in place through all kinds of riding.

Rapha Trail Jacket in Victoria woods
Short days and wet weather made for dank testing conditions

Review: Rapha Trail Infinium jacket

Rapha’s done an excellent job with the Trail Infinium jacket. With some help from Gore-Tex, the jacket strikes a balance between keeping the weather out and allowing your body to breathe while riding. It’s not 100 per cent waterproof, but it is water resistant enough to be effective for all but the heaviest rains. Just as important, it is one of the more comfortable jackets to actually ride in. It doesn’t constrain or constrict movement on the bike, even with the hood up.

Gore-Tex is undergoing a major shift in its fabrics, though, so if you’re interested in the Trail Infinium design move fast. It really might not be around for long.

Rapha Gore-Tex Infinium Trail jacket is $510 at full price, though several colours are significantly less expensive right now on Rapha’s website.