Rapha Women’s Long Sleeve Jersey >> $220
The lowdown: Understated and high-quality women’s long sleeve jersey
Pros: No detail has been overlooked
Cons: Not my ideal fit
Winter is the season to hang up heavily branded kit and break out understated and classic warm gear. If you comply with that philosophy, Rapha is always a good place to start.
The Rapha Women’s Long Sleeve Jersey is an appropriate name for a jersey that doesn’t serve frills, sporty graphics, or a list of modern fabric blends as long as my arm, but does deliver the highest quality to meet my needs.
Made of a 52-percent merino wool, 48-percent polyester blend, the jersey is soft, stretchy and serves up heavy-duty warmth. It stays dry, regulates well and provides a lot of insulation.
The polyester blend seems to limit the smell of dirty rodent cage notorious of a sweaty wool jersey, which I appreciate. It also washes well, and unlike my Rapha Women’s Merino Jersey, made of 100-percent merino wool, it doesn’t seem to leave anything else in the load fuzzy from shedding. Inside it feels more like wool than outside, which looks and feels synthetic.
While it may not get carried away with wow-factor features, attention is paid to every detail. The zipper flap curves over the top of the zipper to prevent chafing on the neck. The cuffs are tapered so they cover more of my hands without making the sleeves too long.
The pockets are deep and of various sizes, not to mention abundant. In addition to the standard triple back pockets, the seam of the pocket on the far right reveals an invisible zipper pocket the full width of the right exterior pocket that can fit a phone with room to spare. Both outer pockets have holes inside to run headphones through. Inside the inner pocket is another slim pocket for a compact pump. Like all Rapha gear, it also has a written story hidden for the owner to discover, although I will admit that I was disappointed that mine was about men’s racing.
There are elastic drawstrings along the back seam, but I find that it stays in place better when sitting loosely. Nonetheless, it is nice to have the flexibility to fine-tune it so the jersey doesn’t slip and isn’t too loose. It also has a basic silicone gripper along the bottom.
A single reflector is sewn into the bottom of the right pocket — no doubt emblematic of Rapha’s British roots, but poor placement for U.S. riders. Besides that, the design embellishments are limited to the signature Rapha armband.
I find that in general I don’t seem to have the ideal body shape for the Rapha women’s line. Items that are tight enough strike me as too short, and while the Women’s Long Sleeve Jersey provides the length I want, it isn’t quite as fitted as I like. Also, I have worn this piece for a limited time and, although it looks and feels very sturdy, it hasn’t seen very many wash cycles, so the jury is out on durability.
The jersey is currently available in fig (pictured), black, cream and blue, and sizes run from XXS to XL, though Rapha warns that the cream and the blue may not be restocked. Like all things Rapha, it will set you back — $220 to be exact — but is a great piece for layering throughout fall, winter and spring rides.