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.
In fact, 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 autumn 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. Pair a gilet with a breathable long-sleeve jersey and you’ll have a warm but well-vented combination.
On that note, the lack of sleeves means a gilet 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 this buyer’s guide of what we think are the best gilets for cycling in 2021.
The best gilets for cycling in 2021 as tested by our team of experts
- Altura NV2 Vest: £50
- Endura FS260-Pro Adrenaline Race Gilet II: £68 / $90
- Endura Pro SL Primaloft II Gilet: £120 / $165
- Kalf Club Lightweight Gilet: £50 / $52
- Rapha Pro Team Lightweight Rain Gilet: £140 / $190 / AU$245
- Van Rysel Team Windproof Gilet: £40
Altura NV2 Vest
- Price: £50
Featuring a semi-fitted cut and made with Altura’s Shield windproof and showerproof fabric, the NV2 breathes well while offering protection from the elements.
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.
Endura FS260-Pro Adrenaline Race Gilet II
- Price: £68 / $90
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.
Endura also offers the FS260-Pro Adrenaline Race Gilet II in a women’s-specific cut.
Endura Pro SL Primaloft II Gilet
- Price: £120 / $165
Endura’s gilet will leave you as snug as a bug under a duvet clutching a hot water bottle!
It’s not as packable as most, but this PrimaLoft-insulated gilet does have three standard rear pockets and one zipped one, so it’s great for long days in the saddle when you might need the extra storage space.
We think it’s perfect over a baselayer and long-sleeve jersey on dry, cold days. If you run warm then you might find it a little too warm on long climbs, though like any gilet you can unzip it.
There are reflective details on the collar and hem, for added visibility, and it’s available in a women’s cut.
Kalf Club Lightweight Gilet
- Price: £50 / $52
As the name suggests, the Kalf Club Lightweight Gilet is light and perhaps the most packable vest on this list.
The Club has all the usual features, including a windproof and water-resistant front with a super-stretchy, breathable mesh rear.
The full-length front zip has a rear baffle and the only rear pocket is zipped, while Kalf describes the cut as unisex.
Our only real criticism of the Club is the paucity of reflective materials, but not everyone will see that as a negative.
Rapha Pro Team Lightweight Rain Gilet
- Price: £140 / $190 / AU$245
Perfect for cold, rainy days, the Pro Team offers outstanding waterproofing for a gilet. Rapha’s three-layer fabric is also highly stretchy for a race-ready fit.
A two-way zip adds cooling options, along with the velcro tab at the top. 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.
Rapha also sells the Souplesse Lightweight Rain Gilet with a women’s cut.
Van Rysel Team Windproof Gilet
- Price: £40
The Team in the name is reflected in the race cut and excellent packability of this gilet from Decathlon brand Van Rysel.
It achieves its size by doing away with pockets and having a thinner, more breathable mesh back. The front offers good windproofing for cooler days and some water-repellency for rainier rides.
White perhaps isn’t the most sensible colour for grimy winter rides, but thankfully it’s also available in black. It could also do with more reflective details, but is an otherwise excellent and well-priced gilet.