Ciarán Ó Conluain reviews the Brevet Insulated Jacket
Most cycling jackets I have used down the years are single piece, semi-fleece feeling fabrics. I usually wear them eight months of the year (from September through to April) and often on colder days in between. They are essentially the most-valued kit for a cyclist, playing a vital role in the enjoyment of each ride. However, for years I have been searching for something better. I want a jacket that keeps me dry and warm, yet doesn’t have to be opened to let all the sweat out. That’s why we reviewed the much talked about Rapha Brevet Insulated Cycling Jacket.
+ Great cut and colour range
+ Orange/Yellow will be seen by traffic but also looks cool
+ It works so well in cold conditions for something so lightweight
+ With a short base layer it worked well in 14 degrees also
+ Uber premium feeling materials
– It is water repellent/resistant rather than waterproof so not one for the long wet days
– I actually haven’t found any other cons yet
Layer up. That’s the advice when riding in all seasons bar summer. Long-sleeve base layer, jersey, maybe even a cycling jumper under a winter jacket. I did this for years and was always pleasantly toasty on the long, steady rides that make cycling so much fun. However, any time the smart arse in the group decided there were KOM (King Of the Mountain) points on top of each hill, I would usually end up a sweaty mess, opening up layer-after-layer like an eskimo entering a nightclub. It seems technology has come on quite a bit since those days, so we tested the latest version of the Brevet Insulated Jacket by Rapha.
Investing £150/€180 on a jacket isn’t cheap but at the same time, it’s middle of the road investment for a jacket. There are many people who will drop more cash on far more expensive kit (me being one of them in the past). So what do you get for the money? Let’s have a look.
At first glance and feel, you immediately know this is an uber-quality product. It’s light but the materials feel premium. The insulation is made by Polartec, who are a specialist fabric company. They have been in the cycling space since around 2013 and the insulation used in the Brevet jacket was created for the US special forces. They create highly technical fabrics and they call their lining used here “the world’s first breathable insulation”. You can see it slightly through the outer shell and iIt’s like a beehive shape which allows air to exit through it from the inside. It feels warm immediately when you put it on but when you start to ride and heat up you can feel the breeze moving through it. It’s very innovative.
If it starts to rain, you want to keep dry from the outside but that’s not much use if you are soaked in your own sweat inside. Moisture vapour can “move freely through the fabric” and I found this to be the case. I even tried this in 14 degrees and, although I wouldn’t wear it normally, it wasn’t really uncomfortable. I just wore a summer base layer underneath. All I had at the end of some heavy efforts was some dampness in the middle of my back under the vented area.
It’s not a waterproof jacket but does give great water resistance. Plus it will dry out really quickly. The stretchy material along the sides and down the backs of the arms gave great breathability. The jacket rolls up nice and small too if you need to pack it away on a ride or put it in a backpack. On cold days, I would wear a full-length base layer (my favourite by a mile is the Basez II by Spatz) and a long-sleeve jersey underneath.
I don’t ride particularly flat out anymore, but on one spin I was short on time so decided to make it fast from the start. I was riding between 30-40kmph and I could see from my shadow there was very little flapping or drag even at that pace. The vents across the shoulders allow air to come in and out and the jacket doesn’t billow at all. It really felt like a tight-fitting racing kit in that respect which is always appreciated no matter what kind of riding you are doing. No one likes drag.
Under the jacket, I wore just a long-sleeve base layer and jersey in 10 degrees temp. People have mentioned the pockets being an issue but I really don’t see this being the case. Maybe the new version we tested has bigger pockets than the previous iterations but the current ones are so big they could fit a tablet in either pocket! You can see from the picture that I can put my whole hand and more into the pockets which reach right across to the centre of your back.
Yes if you are bringing four bananas, two tubes and the kitchen sink out with you, then you might have an issue. If you are one of those uber careful riders who has FOMO when packing for a ride, then I suggest just having a jersey with pockets underneath for anything extra. It looks neater and is better if it rains anyway. The two-way double zip lets you open the jacket from the bottom, making it real easy to get access to jersey pockets. Problem solved.
You can’t do that…
Well I did. I wore the jacket out on a run! AND it worked perfectly well and looked perfectly fine. If I am going to invest in a product and not use it most of the time then that doesn’t seem like a great idea. So I decided to use it on a one hour run and it was brilliant. You warm up a lot when running compared to cycling. So it would suit colder conditions but gives you great breathability and comfort from the nippy weather. If you do some running alongside your cycling, maybe you can justify buying this as a running and cycling jacket. Just a thought 🙂
Sizing and colours
The newest colour release is the “dark yellow” which for me is clearly orange. Either way, I really like the look of it. It’s eye-catching in a fashion sense and in a safety one too. The other two colour options are dark navy and dark olive. I could easily choose any of these colour variants and be happy on my ride.
I usually wear small in my cycling kit and am 181cm/6ft and 70kg/11st. With an outer jacket, I like the flexibility to have some room underneath so I went for medium here and the sizing is perfect as you can see from the images. Arm and back length is good and zero restrictions across the chest when cycling.
Verdict and Rating
It’s clearly one of the best cycling products I have used (and with almost daily riding for almost 15 years, that is a lot of products). I give it 5 stars out of 5 and would recommend you checking it out yourself.
You can view the product here –
You can also have a look at our Fizik Overcurve R4 Cycling shoe review here including a video review http://newproductsreviewed.com/fitness/fizik-overcurve-r4/