Gilets are a cyclist’s secret weapon against the elements. Smaller and more packable than a full jacket, gilets are the perfect piece of spare clothing to take with you on changeable days. A good gilet can be the most versatile piece of kit in your wardrobe, seeing year round use.
Think cold morning starts in the spring and summer, long descents off mountains and days when the weather just won’t settle.
In the winter, they make a great outer layer for fast riding because they protect your core but are much more breathable than a jacket. The lack of sleeves means they can offer much greater ventilation, helping sweat to evaporate at a faster rate rather than getting trapped inside and eventually making you cold.
Like jackets, gilets come in a range of different materials, styles and price points, meaning there’s something for every type of cyclist.
So we’ve tested a wide range and have put together a list of what we think are the best gilets for cycling in 2020.
The best gilets for cycling in 2020 as tested by our team of experts
Altura NV2 Vest: £50
Castelli Perfetto Vest: £110 / $130 / AU$189
Endura FS260-Pro Adrenaline Race Gilet II: £65 / $90 / AU$137
Rapha Pro Team Lightweight Rain Gilet: £140 / $190 / AU$245
Altura NV2 Vest
Altura NV2 Vest. Immediate Media
Featuring a semi-fitted cut and made with Altura Shield wind- and shower-proof fabric, the NV2 breathes well. The clever bit is the Darkproof technology in the fabric, which gives it a glowing appearance when light shines on it.
A silicone waist gripper holds the gilet in place, and the lower back panel features a single zipped pocket with a storm flap.
Castelli Perfetto Vest
Castelli Perfetto Vest. Immediate Media
Price: £110 / $130 / AU$189
Soon to be replaced by the Perfetto RoS Vest, which has an updated fabric on the front, side and shoulder panels, the Perfetto vest features a race cut and offers excellent comfort, construction and performance.
A thicker Gore Windstopper X-Lite Plus fabric appears on the front, side and shoulder panels, with a more breathable, thinner Nano Flex Light fabric on the back. A storm flap also covers the full-length zip, making this gilet ideally suited for colder weather.
Endura FS260-Pro Adrenaline Race Gilet II
Endura FS260-Pro Adrenaline Race Gilet II. Immediate Media
Price: £65 / $90 / AU$137
Based on the classic race cape-style, the translucent ExoShell20ST fabric offers good breathability with excellent stretch properties and waterproofing, improved by sealed seams and an internal storm flap.
The ample reflective trim around the waist, shoulder cuffs and zip also offers great visibility.
Rapha Pro Team Lightweight Rain Gilet
Rapha Pro Team Lightweight Rain Gilet. Immediate Media
Price: £140 / $190 / AU$245
Perfect for cold, rainy days the Pro Team offers outstanding waterproofing. Rapha’s three-layer fabric is highly stretchy for a race-ready fit.
A two-way zip adds cooling options, along with the top Velcro’d tab. A large rear pocket is ample for on-the-go storage, and it’s covered in a rubber-like film for added spray protection too.
The following gilets scored fewer than four stars in our test.
Gore C3 Windstopper Light Vest
Gore C3 Windstopper Light Vest. Immediate Media
The C3 is made with Gore’s own Windstopper fabric, which is highly breathable and water repellent. It features two generously sized rear pockets and a zipped chest pocket, plus subtle reflective piping.
A more generous cut makes it ideal for long days in Lycra as well as a commute in civvies.
Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Barrier Lite Vest
Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Barrier Lite Vest. Immediate Media
The weather exposed front, back and shoulder panels are constructed from a polyester, DWR treated ripstop fabric, which is windproof and showerproof and offers a semi-fitted cut via the elasticated side panels, waistband and arm cuffs
The stomach area isn’t figure hugging, but didn’t flap annoyingly.
For 2020, Pearl Izumi is updating this gilet with new softshell lite panels on the shoulders and back, which it claims will improve the fit and help further protect you from the elements.