The Rapha women's trail shorts are a brand new addition to the extensive brand line-up. Offering plenty of stretch in a lightweight material, along with a home-repair kit, Rapha has certainly exceeded initial expectations for these trail shorts. The £110 price tag for a pair of trail shorts may put some off, but there are some justifiable merits for making such an investment.
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Available in two colourways, black and purple, the women's trail shorts from Rapha are constructed from 88% Nylon / 12% Elastane. This blend gives the shorts a great stretch as you pedal, offering unrestrictive movement.
There are two zipped pockets, one on either side of the leg. Both are pretty ample in capacity and feature a smaller pocket inside. The high-waisted band resembles that of yoga pants; wide, flat, and comfortable. The fastening features a zip and hook-popper coupling together for a very secure fit.
With the shorts comes a ready-to-repair kit which includes iron-on colour-match patches that you can use to mend small tears and damage to the sorts. However, should your shorts suffer from slightly more than what a patch can fix, Rapha has a repair guarantee that will repair your shorts.
The Rapha women's trail shorts are available in sizes XXS to XL, accommodating waists sizes from 24" to 34" and hips 34" to 44".
How they perform
Admittedly, I was dubious about these shorts, to begin with. There have been many tried and failed attempts by predominantly road-focussed brands to move into mountain bike apparel which have failed miserably. Suffice to say, Rapha's trail shorts have exceeded my expectations.
On first wear, I was immediately impressed by the length of these shorts, which stopped mid-knee level. Length is something that many existing and reputable mountain bike brands still struggle to get right. Because of the welcomed leg-length, there's very little chance of suffering from the dreaded thigh gap, which can appear between the top of the knee pads and shorts cuff.
The waistband comes up high on the back to prevent draught but also for comfort as the wide yoga-like waistband is really comfortable and moves with the body rather well.
As for actually riding in, I really rate these shorts. They do what Rapha describe with a figure-fitting shape in a simple and understated design. Thanks to the stretchiness of the fabric, the wide waistband and lots of leg length, there's very little to criticise when it comes to performance. I've had the occasional brush with overgrown brambles throughout testing, but nothing that's damaged the fabric. So, the home-repair kit has stayed firmly in my drawer.
Value and verdict
Rapha's trail shorts are certainly not cheap. At £110, they sit at the higher end of the budget spectrum. However, there are justifiable features such as the home-repair kit and Rapha's repair guarantee, which prolong the garment's life. Endura's Singletrack Lite shorts have similar properties, such as stretchiness and great leg length at £70. However, Endura doesn't offer such an extensive repair package. This also goes for the Patagonia Dirt Roamer shorts at £90, which are shorter in length and with fewer pocket options.
Rapha has done an excellent job with their women's trail shorts for their first proper foray into mountain bike apparel. The shorts are long, comfortable, stretchy and understated. While the repair package is quite extensive to help prolong the life of the shorts, £110 is still quite expensive when you consider other features that aren't included, like water protection and abrasion-resistant panels. I'm keen to see this range develop and evolve over the coming years.