Exceptional performance, with just a small amount of billowing around the shoulders; unusually for Albion, you might want to go down a size rather than up.
- Super light and packable
- Discreet feel when worn
- Good wind protection with some water resistance
- Very breathable
- Zips are easy to operate on the move
- Slight billowing around the shoulders at speed
- The waist cinch feels slightly superfluous
A cycling gilet is a great staple to have in your wardrobe. It’s useful for those days when it might be cooler at the start of your rides, or when wind or rain can chill your core mid-ride. It’s also great for when you’re stopped and your sweat starts to chill your core.
But do you really need to spend £100 to get a good one? Albion's Ultralight Windproof Gilet is new to its range, one of several arrivals in the brand’s S/S21 collection, and it’s right up there with the most expensive non-insulating, wind/waterproof gilets we’ve ever seen, but how does it compare to the competition?
We've spent some time putting this gilet from Albion to the test to see how it fares in different weather conditions, and how nicely it plays when paired with the best cycling jerseys. Read on to find out what we thought about it, and what makes it a solid option when the best waterproof cycling jacket won't do.
Design and performance
Thankfully, this particular gilet has quite a few standout features that go some way to justifying the high price tag. The first of these is its weight. At a snack-bar-spec 70g (for a size medium), there’s not a lot to it. When it’s on you, it feels like it’s not even really there, such is the minimalism of the 100-per cent recycled nylon fabric. When it’s time to pack it down, it can easily be stuffed into a jersey pocket without feeling at all bulky.
The gilet is also windproof — the name is a bit of a giveaway — giving you plenty of protection from a cool breeze hitting your chest. Albion also mentions that it’s water-resistant, but we’re talking a light shower during a ride, not torrential rain.
It’s also very breathable too, which you might not expect given that there’s no mesh panel on the back. Instead, you get a large strip of stretchy mesh fabric (73 per cent recycled nylon, 27 per cent recycled elastane — yes, it’s completely recycled) which offers just enough to let cool air in, and sweat out. The fabric itself also appears to be very breathable, given that we didn’t overheat during the Spring months we were testing in.
The Ultralight Windproof Gilet also features a useful YKK two-way double zip, so you can quickly add some cooling on the move by pulling the zip up from the bottom. Either zipper seems to work well on the move, one-handed, thanks to decent-size tabs on both pullers, and there didn’t seem to be any bunching or sticking of the zipper itself.
You also get a small zipped front stash pocket on the left-hand chest, though honestly, I could take it or leave it. I suppose it's better to have an extra pocket than not, and the front is certainly preferable to pockets on the back, but I tend to prefer to pack things in my jersey, or on the bike.
Visually, the Ultralight Windproof Gilet is very subtle, which I like, with just a small Albion logo on the right-hand chest, and a larger logo on the rear. The rear logo is reflective, for added low-light visibility, and there are two small reflective strips at both sides, too.
It’s available in Black or Mist colour. If you do go for the Mist option, it’s worth noting that such is the thinness of the material, that it’s essentially translucent, and you’ll be able to see whatever colour you’re wearing underneath.
In terms of fit, you can get the gilet in quite a wide range of sizes, from XS up to XXL. Albion tends to be a slightly smaller, racier cut, and quite often you need to size up when purchasing. In this instance however, I found that the XL had a good overall fit and was plenty long enough, but I probably could have gone down a size for a slightly tighter cut (something I wouldn’t say about Albion's jersey, for instance).
There’s an adjustable hem, allowing you to get a tighter fit around the bottom, but I didn’t find this necessary. Even with my relatively small 32-inch waist, the XL was a snug fit without tightening here.
I did notice there was a bit of billowing at the shoulders, which I’m sure is down to a bit of loose material on the front shoulder panels. It could also be down to the XL being ever so slightly big for me. The garment performs impressively, otherwise, so it’s something I’m happy to live with.
At £100, it is a fair amount of cash for a simple gilet, but the Albion Ultralight Windproof gilet does perform exceptionally well (minor billowing, aside). Being that gilets tend to either be on or off during rides, the fact that this one is so light and packable gives it a definite edge.
Albion also offers free shipping and free lifetime repairs, which is something that’s not to be sniffed at.
The only thing I would be wary of is the sizing — you might find that you need to try a couple of different options to get exactly the fit you’re looking for.
Tech Specs: Albion Ultralight Windproof gilet
- Price: £100.00 / €108.00 / $127.00 / AU$172.00
- Materials: Main 100% recycled nylon | Mesh 73% recycled nylon, 27% recycled elastane
- Colours: Black, Mist
- Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL
- Weight: 70g (M)
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