Top gilets for spring riding

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 warmersA 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 Reflex 2 Windproof Cycling Gilet – RRP £25, now £22.50

The Sportful Reflex 2

The Sportful Reflex 2

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.

The dhb women's wisp gilet

The dhb women’s wisp gilet

Good for: Keeping bums dry

dhb clear race gilet and  womens clear race gilet – rrp £34.99, now £31.49

The dhb clear race fluoro gilet

The dhb clear race fluoro gilet

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 Power Windstopper Softshell Thermo Vest – RRP £99.99, now £89.99

The Gore Power Windstopper Shoftshell Thermo vest

The Gore Power Windstopper Shoftshell Thermo vest

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

Louis Garneau Course Speedzone Gilet – RRP £69.99, now £48.99

The LG Course Speedzone gilet has an opening at the back

The LG Course Speedzone gilet has an opening at the back

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?

Join 10,221 fellow cyclists who are subscribed to the London Cyclist newsletter

Sign up for our free newsletter to get...

  • Advice on the best cycling gear
  • A Friday roundup of all the latest London cycling news
  • Exclusive content not available on the blog

Subscribe today, and get exclusive access forever! (It's free)

*No spam, ever!

As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

3 Responses to Top gilets for spring riding

  1. Other Side of the Pond 12/03/2014 at 3:54 am #

    I live in Seattle, which has a similar climate to the UK much of the time. A gilet’s great, and I recently bought a different DHB gilet from those in this article, from (link below). While it’s a heavier neoprene material, I’ve been happy with it thus far to help keep me warm and repel the damp. Earlier, I tried light, nylon gilets (from Castelli and Gore), but they weren’t as snug and warm; being nylon, they were also a bit noisier.

  2. Alice 12/03/2014 at 2:58 pm #

    I wear a Gore Windstopper Active Shell – it’s a slight investment but it has detachable sleeves! It’s seen me dry and warm through pouring rain and freezing cold, and then I wore it over my jersey as a gilet this weekend. Really versatile, really great, would completely recommend it.

    Plus it has a feature I’ve never actually used – the ability to take it off, and the back pocket turns into a bag you tuck the jacket into and then tie around your waist! Perfect for long hilly rides I’d imagine.

  3. Anke 14/03/2014 at 3:00 pm #

    I’ve got a couple of gilets from a lovely Cornwall-based company, Finisterre. Great design, great ethical production process, and outstanding customer service. Unfortunately their latest design has a hood (which I prefer to do without) and no two-way zip which I find perfect for cycling in spring, when you start off cold and then build up body heat.

Leave a Reply