You know that old sweatshirt you throw on after work, wear all weekend, and then begrudgingly leave in your closet Monday morning? Well, the Merino Hooded Top from Rapha is a bit like that familiar hoodie—except it's classy enough to wear in public.
The European maker of fine cycling apparel and accessories has been expanding into everyday attire while maintaining the key, sometimes subtle, aesthetics of its classic cycling wear, such as reflective tabs and back pockets.
Rapha’s Merino Hooded Top embodies the essence of all Rapha apparel: simplicity in design with small highlights to add flair. But even better than that attention to detail (think the pink stripe above the back pocket that's attached with buttons) is comfort.
The fit is snug but not skin tight, showing off that svelte physique thousands of miles in the saddle has (hopefully) afforded you. The top isn't baggy around the hips, while the neck widens slightly and can be fully zipped—with an easy-to-use circular zipper—without choking you.
Although the Merino Hooded Top isn't particularly lightweight or easy to compact (don’t expect to stuff this top into a back pocket), it's made from high-quality materials and so far, I haven't had any durability issues. No pilling to report. Although you won’t wear this top on a 60-mile ride, you’ll sure look good in the coffee shop afterward or riding the commuter around town.
The Merino Hooded Top is my go-to sweatshirt for cool spring or fall days. A thin layer of water- and wind-resistant material covers the chest, adding an extra layer of protection against the elements. When not in use, a hood of the same weather-proof material can be rolled up and secured by a pink strip, providing a Bauhausian synthesis of function and aesthetic.
Now for the pink elephant in the room: the price. At $245, this is not an inexpensive hoodie. Another characteristic of Rapha is that its products cost double, sometimes triple, what you might pay elsewhere. But for that hefty price tag, you get great attention to detail, style, and quality. And you’ll never want to ride in anything else again.