RAPHA TRAIL TECHNICAL T-SHIRT
& TRAIL SHORTS REVIEW
Review by Nic Hall
In espresso shops throughout the world, Rapha is the ubiquitous road biking apparel choice. Since 2004, Rapha has been established in the road cycling world; sponsoring events, building boutique cafes, and working with some of the fastest athletes to create some of the bougiest cycling apparel known. This year they have finally crossed into the mountain bike world, with a full line of men’s and women’s apparel, and a collaboration with Smith to produce custom helmet and eyewear color schemes. We got a hold of their trail kit for some unseasonably warm weather testing.
While we jokingly throw a lot of shade on the roadies, some of their kits are dialed. Rapha knows materials and has designed their new mountain bike line with a focus on sustainable pieces that will last you many seasons. When you buy a Rapha piece of kit, you are getting a unique group of features: if you lose weight while training, they will knock 50% off a jersey in a smaller size; they provide free repairs of any piece of their clothing; and offer free returns on any item if you are not stoked on it. Every piece of clothing also comes with a field repair kit of fabric matching iron-on patches to keep you looking good after a crash.
The Trail Technical T-Shirt is a regular cut lightweight shirt, woven out of a honeycomb grid fabric to increase wicking action and provide high breathability. This material is 100% polyester, of which 68% is obtained through recycling to lessen the eco-footprint. It has an antibacterial finish to limit bacteria and odor and comes in several subdued colors with their signature stripe on the sleeve. Sizing is available in XS to XXL.
The trail short is a built from 4 way stretch material that is Bluesign certified, meaning it is built from sustainable sources with minimized environmental impact. An integrated contoured waistband allows for precise fit adjustment and there are four pockets, two which have zippers with an integrated phone sleeve to keep items from sliding around. The cut is fairly form fitting but has been designed to work with or without knee pads. Sizing is again available from XS to XXL, and the colorways stick with the tried-and-true subdued palette theme.
Unpacking the Rapha kit, you can see their commitment to sustainability with minimal packaging and recyclable bags. The included adhesive patches are high quality and come in cardboard sleeves, so they do not get crushed in your gear bag. Branding on both pieces are minimal heat transfer logos and the colors we received look like they will match with any of our current clothing.
The Trail Technical T-shirt is very lightweight, and the honeycomb grid feels soft to the touch but looks like it will stand up to serious abuse. Features are minimal on the shirt, but the fit is outstanding, cut just tight enough to stay close to the body but not form-fitting. I am 5’11’’ and 165lbs and the size large we received is just a bit big, but thanks to the fit nothing that looks out of place. Thanks to temps in the 90s for the past few weeks, we can say the breathability is good enough for even the warmest rides. I never managed to sweat through the shirt, and it feels as if it actively pulls moisture from the skin.
The Trail Shorts have a relaxed and comfortable fit that slides over small to medium knee pads with no issues. Larger, downhill style knee pads may cause the shorts to bunch up and sit on top of the pad though. The adjustable waist is neat and easy to use and locks in a personalized fit with no slipping of the belt. The size medium was a perfect fit in both the waist and length for me. Breathability is moderate, with no vents the short gets warm on exposed, hot climbs. The zippered pockets keep trail essentials secure, and the phone sleeve is a very well thought out solution to keep your phone from bouncing around.
The Wolf’s Last Word
The Rapha Trail MTB line is a solidly thought out and executed kit that has almost everything you need and nothing you do not. We wish the shorts had more venting for hot weather, but they do breathe well. Rapha has priced these pieces consistently with the market but still offers several services many brands do not. We are big fans of buying a quality piece once, rather than cheap stuff every year and it seems Rapha has built some long-lasting gear that they will repair if you do find a way to destroy it. We will not stop making fun of roadies, but we might be doing it in the same brand they are wearing.
T-Shirt – $75
Shorts – $150
Subtle color ways
No frills, long lasting gear
We may have to take up drinking espresso
Short venting could be better
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