The Albion Burner is a modern take on the classic ‘stuff-a-newspaper-down-your-bibs’ trick for adding warmth when out on the bike.
The Burner is made of an ultralight recycled nylon shell that clads a thin sheet of Clo Eco Vivo – a lightweight synthetic insulation material that is made from 90% recycled fibres.
It is worn flat against the chest and is held in place by your bib straps. It packs down into an in-built pocket to roughly the size of a kiwi and weighs just 18g.
In testing, I have found the Burner to be remarkably effective, offering a surprising amount of warmth when out on the bike. It has quickly established itself as a surprisingly useful go-to item for my rides.
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Haven’t I seen this before?
Images of pro cyclists stuffing a copy of La Gazetta dello Sport or L’Equipe down their jersey before some terrifying wet alpine descent have been a firm fixture of the sport for many years.
Blocking the wind prevents it from ‘blowing away’ the pocket of warm air that’s trapped by your jersey and base layer. This pocket of air is what actually keeps you warm, which is why string/mesh base layers are so effective.
While the tradition isn’t seen quite as often these days in racing – not least due to the demise of print journalism! – the concept still makes perfect sense.
As an aside, Albion is not the first brand to bring an idea similar to this to market – Shimano included a similar tummy-comforter with its now discontinued Evolve Wind jacket that was released a few years ago.
Though we’re in summer, I’ve had the chance to use the Burner in a wide variety of conditions.
On cool dry rides or early mornings, it adds just enough warmth at the start of a ride that I can get away with leaving a gilet at home.
Tucking the Burner back into your jersey is also far easier than it sounds and I’ve taken to doing so before descents or if I am sweaty after a hard effort.
When riding in the rain, the Burner also adds a nice bit of additional warmth without adding too much bulk.
It also has the added benefit of being far easier to remove than a gilet and only takes up half a jersey pocket.
It is honestly so small that I have taken to packing it for all but the very hottest rides. The sacrifice in space and weight is minimal, and I’d rather have it just in case – who knows how long that socially-distant post-ride beer that I haven’t brought a jacket for might go on for?
Unpacked, the Burner also looks a bit like a miniature picnic blanket and you could, at a stretch, perch your perfect cyclist’s butt on top of it. Either that or lay it out with a tiny picnic spread of energy gels and pocket-ripened bananas on top – the choice is yours.
If I were to pick out its one notable issue, the Burner isn’t particularly breathable.
I’m a sweaty wee Scotsman and run pretty hot at the best of times in the South West’s near-tropical climate. If I’ve forgotten to remove the Burner before a climb (easily done), I’ll end up with a damp tummy after a few minutes of hard effort.
This won’t be a problem if you run cold or you aren’t gifted with as active sweat glands as I am, but it still bears mentioning.
It is also – for what is essentially a small quilted square of insulated fabric – fairly expensive at £35. If you have access to a sewing machine or are happy to cut up an old fleece, you could easily replicate the functionality of the Burner.
However, given its eco-friendly chops and effectiveness, I’m willing to forgive the relatively high price.
I also feel that in a world packed full of high-quality kit, it’s very hard to stand out, and quirky ideas like the Burner absolutely deserve to be celebrated.
The Burner is definitely not a replacement for a gilet but, if you decide to buy one, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by quite how useful you find it.
What do you think? Is the Burner high-functioning fashion or the height of silliness? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.