I’d read a comment in one of the bike mags where they stated that despite sounding somewhat counter-intuitive, a waterproof gilet was a great addition to the UK cyclist’s wardrobe. The theory being that it keeps your core warm and dry, and even if your arms get wet, that’s much less of an issue in the ‘swing seasons’ of spring and autumn. With technical fabrics, those damp arms soon dry, anyway.
Not wishing to splash too much cash on this experiment, I located this item via the wonder that is eBay. Twenty pounds changed hands (electronically), and a few days later I was putting the theory to the test.
Results are positive so far. I’ve been wearing the gilet as a third layer over a base layer and a cycling shirt (as modelled here); or as it’s warmed up, just over a merino base layer. On the Sunday when this photo was taken, we had some short, sharp hail and rain showers, and the gilet shrugged them off with ease.
The theory seems to work quite well with more persistent rain, too. On a wetter mid-week ride with Tony, the damp arms were hardly noticeable, and the waterproof front and shoulders prevent wind chill and keep the core temperature up, provided you stay active. I usually carry a Goretex jacket stuffed in my rucksack for downpours or extended stops in cold and windy weather.
The full-length front zip is also great at regulating body temperature. Once warmed up, you can simply unzip as required for the climbs, without having to stop and remove a layer, minimising ‘faffage’. With the zip nearly undone, there’s very little fabric left covering the core allowing plenty of heat to escape. Zipping up for the descents just keeps the chill off the, by now, damp base layer. The waterproof/windproof fabric does a great job of keeping the cold out. I have the medium size, which is reasonably close fitting for me.
A couple of features with this jacket are an inside media pocket; handy for a phone, camera or wallet. This stretches to accommodate the average iPhone, but doesn’t have a closure so don’t keep your keys in here. It has a couple of small reflective logos on the back, which are always useful when being caught out at twilight. Most importantly, it has a mesh back which you can just make out in the photo. I find this really useful, as riding with a back pack always leads to a much sweatier back. This mesh insert has proved quite effective in reducing this unpleasant effect.
Tenn’s offering is only available in black, which gives the benefit of being able to wear it with all other colours. I know this seems rather dull for me, but it’s good to have a little black number in your wardrobe you can rely on 🙂