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6 Of The Best Cycling Gilets For Cold Weather Riding

When the temps hit 50 or below it’s time to break out that cold-weather gear for cycling. One of my favorite choices is the Cycling Gilet or what is known in the US as a cycling vest.

Best Cycling Gilets For Cold Weather Riding
Best Cycling Gilets For Cold Weather Riding

The gilet is a simple piece of cycling kit that many experienced cyclists can’t do without and provides a needed barrier to keep the cold off the chest.

Different Types Of Gilets

Gilets come in a variety of thicknesses, but essentially boil down to two types, lightweight packable gilets, and more insulated gilets designed to take the bite out of cold rides. For late fall, winter and early spring I find insulated gilets to be optimal.

Layering Up With A Gilet

I sweat a lot and it really doesn’t matter if it is 30 degrees or 80 degrees, I am going to sweat. Sweating during a cold ride can be problematic if what you’re wearing adds to the heat buildup. That’s where gilets come in, they offer a bit of a compromise between overdressing and not wearing enough.

Most cyclists can be very comfortable riding with 3 layers up top including a base layer (short or long sleeve), a cycling jersey and then a gilet. When it does heat up during the day, a gilet can often be stuffed in a rear pocket and then put back on during long descents or when the temperatures drop again.

Endura Gilet | Endura PRO SL PRIMALOFT GILET II

Endura Gilet | Endura PRO SL PRIMALOFT GILET II
Endura PRO SL PRIMALOFT® GILET II (Retails $164.99)

The Endura PRO SL PRIMALOFT GILET II is a cold-weather gilet that uses Primaloft to provide an exceptional warmth to weight ratio. It’s a bit on the pricy side ($164.99 Retail), but very worth the investment.

FEATURES

  • Materials: 60% Polyamide, 35% Polyester, 5% Elastane
  • Lightweight, windproof shell panels with PrimaLoft® GOLD insulation
  • Stretch insulated back for unrestricted movement
  • The triple rear pocket system with zipped security pocket
  • Lightweight internal hem elastic with silicone gripper
  • Clean bonded hem
  • Subtle reflective details
  • Retail $164.99

Rapha Brevet Insulated Gilet

Rapha Brevet Insulated Gilet
Rapha Brevet Insulated Gilet (Retails $180)

Rapha uses Polartec Alpha to provide a nice wind barrier and warm protection in the front and lighter material in the rear.

The Polartec Alpha comes with dual zippers to allow the rider to unzip from the top or bottom.

FEATURES

  • Main Material: 100% Nylon
  • Full-length zip for easy venting
  • Polartec insulation with DWR treatment
  • Signature perforated Brevet stripes for visibility
  • Lightweight zip garage to avoid irritation
  • High collar to keep out the wind
  • Retail $180

Castelli ELEMENTO LITE VEST

Castelli Elemento Lite Vest (Retails $299)

Probably the warmest gilet on our lineup, the Castelli Elemento is designed for the coldest of days. It does come with a steep price tag of $299 retail.

The vest is designed with three layers of insulation and engineered for air permeability. It’s the best combination of warmth, breathability and low weight.

FEATURES

  • 3-layer insulated construction with engineered air permeability provides the perfect combination of warmth, breathability, and lightweight
  • Japanese-made air-permeable woven-textured nylon outer shell with a water-repellent finish
  • Polypropylene synthetic down insulation layer provides warmth while allowing full breathability without any water absorption
  • Plissé stretch panels on sides allow for close-to-body fit with the full freedom of movement
  • Two rear pockets with reflective gusset at the bottom
  • Packs up small to fit in a jersey pocket
  • Weight: 278 grams (size large)
  • Recommended temperature range: 12°-16°C

Pearl Izumi BLVD Merino Vest

Pearl Izumi BLVD Merino Vest
Pearl Izumi BLVD Merino Vest (Retail $190)

I am a big fan of Merino wool and Pearl Izumi doesn’t disappoint with their Pearl Izumi BLVD Merino Vest.

Pearl Izumi takes their responsible and sustainable approach to sourcing Merino wool and ratchets it up a notch with this vest which uses Merino scrap to insulate the polyester front and rear paneling. Zippered front pockets and a rear side pocket balances style with function, making it as great for running errands as it is for heading to the taproom.

FEATURES

  • Thermal Merino wool/Nylon fabric for comfort, odor control, and natural body-temperature management.
  • Made with 18.5-micron fine Merino for ultimate luxury.
  • Recycled wool insulated front and back paneling for warmth.
  • Zip-secure front hand pockets.
  • Metalux center front zipper with semi-auto locking zipper head.
  • Zip-secure backside pocket.
  • BioViz® reflective elements for low-light visibility
  • Retail $190

Sportful FIANDRE LIGHT NORAIN VEST

Sportful FIANDRE LIGHT NORAIN VEST (Retail $130)

The Compact vest offers protection from light rain and excellent wind resistance, and it will still fit in your pocket. Close-fitting stretch construction reduces wind noise and improves aerodynamics.

FEATURES

  • Stretch windproof fabric on front and shoulders
  • NoRain Light fabric on back for water-repellent breathability and stretch
  • Unidirectional stretch back construction for pocket support
  • YKK® Vislon® main zipper with wind flap
  • 3 rear pockets
  • Reflective heat-transfer strips
  • Retail $130

Madison Roadrace WindTech Gilet

Madison Roadrace WindTech Gilet (Retail $100)

This mid-weight thermal gilet is a versatile extra layer that works well for Spring classics or freezing winter jaunts. Three rear hand pockets offer enough space for spare tubes tools food and a race cape and the secure zipper pocket keeps your phone and keys safe

Windproof and water-resistant panels on the front sides and over the shoulders ensure the bitterest of winds won’t keep you from getting some winter miles in. Lighter weight rear panel lets your body easily dispose of excess heat

Subtle black reflective detailing on the lower back upper back and shoulders make your presence known to passing traffic. Elasticated rear hem with silicone gripper keeps the gilet firmly in place.

FEATURES

  • Engineered with our Madison Genesis race team, the RoadRace windtech gilet forms a critical part of our professional’s wardrobes
  • Featuring lightweight stretch windproof paneling, the windtech gilet repels the chill hitting your chest
  • Constructed using the same tried and tested pattern of our RoadRace jerseys, the RoadRace windtech gilet is perfect for those in-between temperatures
  • The pre-curved shape gives ultra comfort when in the riding position
  • Three rear hand pockets offer enough space for spare tubes, tools, food and a race cape, and the sweat-proof zipper pocket keeps your phone and keys safe
  • Subtle reflective trims give you stealthy nighttime visibility
  • Elastic binding at the armhole prevents unwanted drafts from getting in
  • Elasticated hem with silicone gripper keeps the gilet firmly in place
  • Retail ($100)

About The Author

Tom Crandall

Tom has been writing about photography, cycling, running and fitness since 1988, covering everything from the product reviews to the latest in fitness trends. Tom is the Editor-in-chief of GearMashers.com, 10KstepsDaily.com, EndTheTrendNow.com, AntiqueOutings.com, MiniatureReview.blogspot.com and a few other publications, he began racing in college while getting an Information Resource Management degree at George Mason University. Based in the photography and cycling-crazed city of Austin, Texas, with his wife Kathleen and pug Olaf, Tom enjoys running, walking or riding most every day.

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