The Rapha Women’s Gilet does the simple things well. In fact, it meets its mark so emphatically as to make us wonder how so many other women’s vests fail to accomplish those simple things as admirably as this one does.
Like the Rapha Women’s Rain Jacket, the gilet takes a high-performing, snug-fitting and stylish approach to women’s clothing design.
Our extra small test vest fits exactly as we'd expect: the shoulders, waist and chest all follow the lines of the body nicely. This is something that stands out: too many women’s vests on the market stick out over the shoulders and at the waist, and puff up in the wind.
By contrast, this one remains close to the torso during riding, even when the zip is open for ventilation. The main material is stiff enough to hold its shape, and to enable easy access to items stashed in jersey pockets, but also flexible enough that it never feels inhibiting. It blocks the wind effectively as advertised and also keeps us warm in light showers or drizzle.
The Women’s Gilet also features two hand-sized pockets at the rear and a zippered pocket for small items at the front, practical additions that don’t feature on many competitors’ products. This makes it much easier to reach for food during the mild to cold races or rides on which you're likely to be wearing this garment.
The exceptional fit, in conjunction with the functionality of those pockets, are the primary reasons that we’d recommend this vest above many others.
Our test garment was black with reflective white piping, which matches most cycling kits nicely extending summer favourites well into the transition seasons. The 2014 range has just been released, which offers the same fit and features in orange or navy.
On the whole, we found the Rapha Women’s Gilet a pleasure to use and hard to fault; the only hesitation we’d have in buying stems from the rather hefty price tag. As we've spelled out, it certainly does the simple things well – but it’s debatable as to whether it does them twice as well as some of the competition.