I say it quietly… but there has been a definite whiff of spring in the air over the last couple of days. Overshoes are occasionally being left at home, winter tights gradually swapped for shorts and leg warmers – it’s all happening.
There are some spring days when a full winter jersey just isn’t needed, but windchill means that you might want an extra layer to pop over a short sleeved jersey with arm warmers. A gilet is the solution.
Gilets are sleeveless vests that are lightweight and usually roll up to fit into a jersey pocket if you find yourself warming up. If you’re commuting, there are lots of high viz options available which can brighten up an otherwise dark outfit to make you more visible, too.
A gilet can set you back anywhere from £25 to £125 – the more expensive options might be more breathable, more aero, or have better wind protection – but a £25 gilet will do the job, and it’s an inexpensive way of making your summer jerseys work harder – saving you from buying items specifically for the in-between months.
Good for: Bargain hunters who want quality:
Sportful make quality kit, and this gilet is no exception. In this case, their offering even slips in at one of the cheapest around, too. The reflex 2 is both windproof and water repellent, making it great for those in between days. The gilet comes in a wide range of colours, black with high viz trim and logos, red, blue, and day-glo yellow. Large reflectors wrap the lower back, so you’ll be hard to miss.
For women on a budget, the DhB Wisp Windproof gilet comes in at £26.99.
Good for: Keeping bums dry
On my gilet search, I saw quite a lot of options that stopped at the waist. On a ride where there could be some standing water on the road, or even rain, a cover-up that extends past the lower back is a good idea. The dhb clear race gilet, available in white and flouro variants, will have you covered. You’ll also get a water-resistant membrane which provides windchill and shower protection, plus mesh under arm vents for effective airflow.
Good for: Weather protection
Gore bike wear have created, tested and patented a great deal of clothing technology. They’re a quality brand that makes functional kit designed to work hard – and the “Power Windstopper Softshell Thermo Vest” does everything it boasts on the tin. Softshell material is used for a cosy finish, and this gilet’s windstopper fabric is as far from the cheap, roll up and ride options available on the market. This one is less of a convenience item, and more a considered purchase that will feature heavily in your wardrobe in all but the warmest summer months, and coldest depths of winter. You’ll get everything from abrasion resistant binding on the hem to a watertight pocket.
Gore make a great women’s windstopper option, too.
Good for : Racers
I had to include this one, because as far as I know, it’s the very first of its kind. The Speedzone gilet was developed with the cooperation of Team Europcar, and it answers two needs: the need to reach into jersey pockets when wearing a gilet, and the need to display race numbers when wearing a gilet. The answer is an opening at the back large enough to allow pocket access and display numbers. Of course, you also get an aerodynamic fit, wind protection, a quality zip with zip garage, and an “enviro pocket” for storing used gels.
Have you been enjoying the shift in the weather? And what are you wearing on your slightly sunnier, but still blustery rides?
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.