Cycle 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.
Can you wear a windproof jacket in winter?
There are winter orientated windproof jackets available, which sacrifice weight, versatility and portability in favour of robustness and warmth, often by using a three-layer construction with a windproof and highly water-resistant membrane sandwiched between an outer and inner layer of fabric. These garments often don't fit in a jersey pocket and blur the lines between jacket and jersey, but can be a worthwhile investment if you intend to do many winter miles.
Some of our favourite windproof jackets
Assos Mille GT Wind Jacket
Assos Mille GT Spring Fall Airblock Gilet
The Assos Mille GT Spring Fall Airblock Gilet is at the heavier end of the windproof spectrum, but as such it provides a bit more warmth and protection than a thinner layer. Assos' NEOS MILD 3-layer windproof fabric protects the chest and neck whilst the rear of the gilet is made from highly breathable RX material and features slots for access to jersey pockets.
Castelli Perfetto RoS Vest
Combining a windproof, water-resistant GORE-TEX Infinium 203 front and breathable Nano Flex Light rear, the Castelli Perfetto RoS Vest is a great way to add extra protection to a jersey on cooler days. The two large rear pockets make access with gloves on easier and the stretchy fabrics provide a neat fit. It can be stuffed into a pocket when not needed but due to its feature-packed credentials and in turn slightly bulky size it is probably best worn all ride long.
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.