Cycling Clothing Guide
Gilets and Windproof Jackets
A staple of any cyclist’s wardrobe, a windproof jacket or gilet probably provides the best bang-for-buck warmth, both in terms of cost and weight. In a notoriously changeable climate like the UK, it is practically a year-round requirement to have one in a jersey pocket just in case the weather changes. They are also very handy to have available to prevent getting chilled at cafe stops or whilst performing roadside repairs.
Why Choose a Gilet or Windproof Jacket?
Usually made from a very thin, densely woven fabric and weighing somewhere around 100 grams, gilets and windproof jackets add a surprising amount of extra warmth when worn over insulating layers. The air inside them is warmed up by body heat and then kept in place by the windproof layer rather than being whisked away by the breeze.
Are Gilets and Windproof Jackets also waterproof?
As the fabric isn’t totally waterproof and the seams aren’t sealed, gilets and windproof jackets aren’t 100% waterproof but they will often have a hydrophilic chemical DWR (Durable Water Repellent) treatment on the surface which causes light rain and road spray to bead up and roll off rather than soaking into the fabric. Sustained or heavy rain will breach this barrier and penetrate the jacket, but the DWR treatment can be maintained at home with wash-in treatments or sprays.
How breathable are gilets and windproof jackets?
Some gilets and windproof jackets have vents or mesh panels to aid breathability, but as the fabric isn’t waterproof, the breathability is normally pretty good anyway. It is definitely worth finding one that fits well, as the light fabric can flap irritatingly in the wind, increasing drag into the bargain, but make sure that it fits over any prospective winter clothing as well as just a summer jersey.
Affordable, light and highly effective, a well-fitting windproof gilet or windproof jacket should be right up there near the top of any cyclist’s clothing list. There aren’t many UK days when popping a gilet or windproof jacket in a jersey pocket before a ride isn’t a prudent move, so it's well worth considering buying one.