Don’t get me wrong I prefer cycling in warm even hot climates but there is something about beating the elements of a British winter that elevates the cycling experience. Get it wrong though and you’ll just get cold, wet and grumpy.
To battle the cold I have long owned an Icebreaker Skin 200 Merino base layer from my adventures in New Zealand. It’s a great bit of kit but recently I have tested the Rapha Deep Winter Base Layer which is a Merino hooded cycling top created for the very coldest days. It is made from two different weights of merino blend fabric which Rapha says provides the optimum balance between insulation and breathability. That means the hood, chest and arms are made from a heavier material while the lower front body and back panel are lighter. Needless to say the fabric is high wicking, breathable, and extremely soft against the skin. Since its Merino it also won’t hold bad odours.
This base layer is extremely comfortable and the hood adds another level keeping neck and ears all wrapped up. I have worn this jersey on several rides in temperatures from -3 to 7 degrees and more recently on a brisk 6o mile ride in an average temperature of 6 degrees. Its breathes very well and held out the cold even when I had stopped for a coffee outside. I would say 6 degrees sets the upper benchmark in the temperature range and I would pull this out for anything below (assuming a long sleeve jersey worn over the top).
Compared to my existing base layer the sleeves are more comfortable while riding due to a two piece construction which creates a better shape when riding. They are also cut long with thumb loops which I find great as you have a secure cold proof interface with your glove..
Now to the hood. It’s designed to fit under a helmet and features a ‘frogman’ or ‘bank robber’ face which can be worn over the mouth or under the chin.
Other points to note are that I sized down for this base layer from a Medium to Small. I felt this gave less ruffles and a better fit against the skin which equals better wicking and thermal insulation.
Also be careful when you take it off as you can easily pull and stretch around the neck – you’ll here the stitching complain.
The white reflective tabs on the hood are a nice touch.
Overall this is great for super cold days when its cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey. Its sadly very pricey but the way I look at it is that you’re opening up the potential for more comfortable rides in colder conditions with a base layer that will stay in your wardrobe for many years to come.
Awarded | Kit Bag | for CycleTo MIPIM
The evolution of this product could only be a jump suit version which takes in the feet and legs too. Lets see it Rapha, a Deep Deep Winter Onesie!
2 thoughts on “Review : : Rapha Deep Winter Base Layer”
Hi, I am wondering is it possible to remove the hood without the need to take the layer off? It would be fantastic if you could post some pics for this seems exactly as what I need. I have a Gore Path jacket and pants and I would drop this and underpants, possibly a mid layer, in rides from -5 to 5 C, with a helmet above. But a big question: how does it cope with rain? Because in Luxembourg, where I am, we have it all the time (never very strong, but almost neverending :))
Thanks a lot.
Hi, this is a great bit of kit from Rapha and I have recently used it on consecutive days in temperatures of -5 degrees with the hood up. The hood can be dropped into a neck tube quite easily and vice versa pulled up over the head from around the neck. It’s quite versatile. In terms of the wet and rain it deals with it in the same way as Merino; it will get wet but will dry quickly. I have ridden with the hood up in the wet and found that rain will make its way through a vented helmet. If you need a waterproof head try Gore-Tex.