After riding many miles in the rain wearing various jackets I’ve discovered that it’s impossible to stay completely dry. If the rain doesn’t get you the sweat will. So I see rain gear as a way to minimize and delay the inevitability of a damp jersey. I’ve tried heavy Gortex and light weight microporous jackets with a variety of results. They are either too bulky or they flap in the wind and if they keep most of the rain out you sweat buckets even if there are lots of vents. Now I think I’ve found the ideal compromise between water resistance and breathability with Rapha’s Stowaway jacket.
The Stowaway is a light weight water and wind resistant jacket. It’s most prominent specification is the price, which is an eye popping $290 putting it up with the the top of the line offerings from brands like Assos. It has one small front pocket, no hood and weighs 6oz. So a bit of maths and you come up with a cost of $800/lb. Am I convincing you to go out and buy one yet? Once over the price of this minimalist jacket the Stowaway shines as it actually performs better than Rapha’s marketing suggests. Rapha describes the jacket as water resistant rather than waterproof, so with that in mind I was pleasantly surprised at just how dry the jacket kept my core after an hour of riding in heavy rain. It performed fantastically on a recent ride across the North Yorkshire Moors in wind driven rain. Some water did penetrate through the seams in the sleeves, but I wasn’t soaked in sweat and the Stowaway kept the wind out and my body dry
Like most of Rapha’s products it’s very well made and beautifully styled so you just feel good wearing it. The fit is close to the body, so there’s no flapping of material, but not so snug that you feel restricted. There is an off center zip and the back is cut long as you’d expect. A nice touch are the adjustable pink elastic cords so you can tighten the back around your butt. The material is soft and stretchy and it feels great against the skin. Remember how those old PVC rain shells would stick to the skin, well there’s none of that with the Stowaway. Water beads on the surface of the jacket and just runs off. It’s important to keep the jacket clean as oil or dirt will compromise the water resistance.
The Stowaway folds down to an impressively small package, so I like it as part of my ultralight touring kit and it’s perfect for any long distance or day cyclist who wants rain gear that can fit into the back pocket of a jersey. It comes in a sophisticated black, a loud happy orange, or a lame misty blue. If you have some spare cash after tithing, paying the mortgage and putting food on the table consider getting a Stowaway. The price is ridiculous, but the jacket itself is fantastic.