Versatile vests: Kitwatch's best selects

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No matter what hemisphere you’re in, chances are you’re right in the middle of gilet weather. The seasons are changing, wind is picking up, rain is often close by and temperatures vary a lot from early morning to the afternoon. The gilet is one of the most versatile pieces of clothing in any cyclist’s wardrobe, but not all vests are born the same. Below I’ll run through some of my favourite gilets and the riding situations they are best suited to.

First things first, style.

Before I jump into specifics and fabric technicalities, let’s talk about style and colour and how to choose a vest that matches the rest of your kit. The great thing about gilets is that they can really liven up an outfit by layering colour or adding a little razzle dazzle. So, keep that in mind when you’re making a purchase.

The colour wheel

I love using tonal variation in a jersey and gilet combo. If you have a dark blue jersey (E.g. Search and State royal blue) think about adding a light blue vest (e.g. Pedla pastel blue). Pedla did this colour layering really well with forest green and mint (see above), in their latest Time Capsule collection.

Take this a step further and add another variation of the same colour with your socks (or try matching them exactly to your vest). Don’t forget about contrasting colours as well: have an orange jersey? Try adding an olive-green vest over the top. Have a forest green jersey? See how it looks with pink gilet.

Business up top, party down below

I steer clear of matching the exact colour of a jersey with a gilet, as the look is a little boring. An exception is if you’ve got bib shorts that add a little bit of party to the mix. One of my favourite looks this winter past was the orange jacket/gilet combo from Pedla with their camo bib shorts. Even better, add HJC’s Furion aero helmet in olive green.

A little razzle-dazzle

My next tip would be to add all the crazy to your vest. If the rest of your outfit is plain blocked out colours, your vest is a great place to have a little fun. Think about adding a bunch of colour or a camo print or similar. This look is a bit harder to pull off and match but works great when done right (again, for extra points see if you can match your socks to your gilet).

 

Next up, let’s look at some of my favourite gilets and the weather to which they are best suited.

Packable and lightweight: the MAAP Stash Vest

I feel like everyone needs a packable vest or jacket. The beauty of this one from Maap is that not only does it scrunch up to fit in your jersey pocket, but it has a super effective windproof material that covers your chest. It also features a mesh back that means you won’t overheat and is a lot more breathable than many other gilets in the same lightweight category. Perfect on a spring morning that starts off somewhere near 10ºC and ends up at about 20-25ºC on the way home. It’s also ideal for the descent after a long climb.

 

How to wear: with a short sleeve or long sleeve jersey (regular or lightweight).

Similar options:

 Water resistance, the Pedla AquaDRY RG2 Gilet

Still completely windproof, this Pedla gilet also has a level of water resistance. The AquaDRY Gilet is still very lightweight and quite breathable, just not to the same level as a vest with a mesh back. The advantage of course, being that it keeps the rain off your back too. While a water-resistant jacket is better suited to a heavy downpour and winter chill, a water-resistant vest keeps your core dry and gives you a lot more versatility. You can unzip it to cool down or take it off completely and fit it in a jersey pocket.

 

How to wear: over a short or long sleeve jersey or with a thermal jersey or jacket.

 A winter warmer, the Lumiere Tech Gilet 

The Lumiere Tech Gilet is still classified as mid-weight but adds a level of warmth without going as far as a jacket. Perfect for hard racing in the colder months, it’ll keep the wind and rain out while allowing you to maintain heat by unzipping it or taking it off completely, mid-ride.

 

How to wear: Over a jacket or thermal jersey.

 

Similar options: 

 

A few extras, be sleek, be seen:

Pedla Rideflash Windcheater Gilet  

I wanted to throw this gilet in because its level of reflection is pretty crazy and it’s great to have if you’re heading into the darker months. The entire vest completely lights up when hit with a car or street light, helping you stand out in the darkness. Want to really light it up? Pair with Pedla’s reflective booties.

 

Vertex London Team Gilet

I love how sleek this Vertex London gilet looks. It’s made seamless, so there’s no knitting in sight as everything is heat moulded. This, combined with a sleek, fitted matte-black fabric makes for an incredibly stylish black vest that just had to be included in this article.

Looking for a sleek white option? Take a look at the Pedal Mafia White Gilet.