Amongst a line-up already known to hit some high pricepoints, the Explore family sets a new upper bar, seeming to have thrown out the concept of affordability in favor of all-out performance in harsh changing weather conditions…
Rapha Explore Gore-Tex gravel jacket & pants
While their latest Gore jackets & jerseys have opted for water-resistant but extra-breathable Infinium, this one goes all-in on waterproofing, back to classic Gore-Tex “Guaranteed to Keep You Dry” 3-layer construction, with their latest C-Knit inside.
Make no mistake about it, this is the most expensive jacket we’ve seen from Rapha for either on or off-road riding. But it does seem to have leveraged what has made their latest road Pro Team, ultra-distance Brevet & mountain biking Trail-wear Gore tops to keep riders comfortable over any terrain for days on end.
The new Explore Gore-Tex jacket is a modern breathable Gore 3-layer laminate, with a durable outer nylon shell, a fully waterproof membrane, and Gore’s stretchy & slippery C-Knit inner face that is easier to pull over insulating layers but still feels good next to your skin. It’s the same inner face of the Trail Gore Infinium jacket and the latest Pro Team Gore-Tex rain jacket, and Rapha says the new waterproof jacket is specifically cut to fit over their Explore Down Jacket for maximum cold & wet weather warmth.
This new Explore jacket gets fully taped seams, a 2-way Aquaguard zipper, plus a line of flap vents across the back under your shoulder blades.
Unzip the main zipper from the bottom, and you can snap the two open ends up inside the jacket for a more classic, no-bunch fit when riding in a deeper tuck. Or unsnap and zip it all the way down for an upright riding position and more coverage off-the-bike.
The waterproof jacket also has a slim-cut hood designed to fit under a helmet, with a bungee at the back to pull it in tight for a wind-free fit. And it is designed to be rolled up into the hood to pack the jacket when you don’t need it, so it can be easily strapped onto or tucked inside a bikepacking bag. Plus, the jacket gets a couple of waterproof side handwarmer pockets, a drop tail with a gripper, and elasticized cuffs at the end of its long sleeves.
Rapha Explore Pants
The new Explore Pants aren’t quite as fancy or fully waterproof, but look to be a reinterpretation of Rapha’s popular Trail Pants. Designed more to be light & durable outer layer (to be combined over bibs or tights, depending on weather), they do claim to shed some water thanks to a DWR coating, and are quick-drying for when it actually gets wetter.
The pants use a 4-way stretch fabric with an ergonomic cut for pedaling, but has a more classic cut that looks normal-ish off-the-bike. An adjustable webbing belt keeps them in place, and bungees at the cuffs to keep them out of your chain & tire. The pants get plenty of pockets – two diagonal jeans-style main pockets, plus zippered side pockets on the outside of each leg. Like Rapha MTB, the Explore pants come with iron-on patches made of the same fabric for easy, unobtrusive repairs at home.
New Rapha Explore availability & options
Here comes the kicker… pricing. The new Rapha Explore Gore jacket sells for a whopping $530 / 460€ in dark navy blue or brick orange. And the Explore pants are another $180 / 160€ in classic black or dark gray. The jacket certainly seems like it packs in more tech and more versatility than any of Rapha’s other Gore-Tex jackets. But at around 100€ more than most of their other Gore-Tex jackets, it’s just a matter of if you think you can actually afford that price tag. As for the pants which are close in price to their Trail brethren, the Explores do look to be a bit better blend both on & off the bike.