Versatile gilet offers windproof and water resistant protection
A gilet is one of the most versatile pieces of clothing in any rider’s kit drawer – get hold of one you like and, chances are, it will get plenty of use year-round, whether as the first line of defence in winter or to keep the wind off your chest on a fast mountain descent in summer.
The Sportful Fiandre Light Vest steps things up a notch as part of the Italian firm’s Fiandre collection, in that it is both wind and water resistant.
The gilet is based on the Sportful Fiandre Light NoRain Top, which you may be familiar with as it’s been one of our favourite pieces of kit over the past couple of years. Sportful have essentially removed the sleeves to add this vest to the Fiandre line-up.
The Fiandre Light Vest is made from two fabrics; you’ll find a ‘WindShield 3L’ fabric on the front and Sportful’s own ‘NoRain Light’ fabric on the rear. As the name suggests, the former is windproof, while the latter is an open weave fabric to help heat escape.
Both fabrics are water resistant, thanks to the windproof membrane on the front and a water repellent treatment on the rear, but let’s not overplay the effectiveness if you’re caught out in prolonged rain. It’s still a gilet, after all, and you’ll want a jacket if you’re expecting heavy rain but the Fiandre Light Vest is certainly useful on a damp morning or if caught out in a shower, when water will clearly bead up on the front and rear. As a result, it works well to keep your core warm and dry. Same goes if you’re heading out on a damp summer’s ride, when the air temperature is warm so a gilet may be all you want to keep the rain off. However, the water resistant fabric does mean breathability does begin to suffer a little when working hard in milder temperatures.
Still, the Fiandre is ideal as a plain old gilet, too. I’ve used the gilet in everything from chilly spring rides to mountain descents in Gran Canaria. While the gilet remained tucked neatly into my jersey pocket when climbing with the air temperature comfortably over 20 degrees, I pulled it out for the subsequent descent back to the coast. It’s bulkier than some summer gilets, including Sportful’s own HotPack Ultralight Vest, which takes up barely any room in a pocket and is a better option if you’re purely looking for featherweight wind protection, but you’re certainly not going to be weighed down carrying this.
The fit is excellent, too. The WindShield fabric has enough stretch to provide a comfortable and flexible fit, while the rear NoRain Light fabric is stretchier still. Basically it means the fit is versatile enough to wear the gilet on its own over a summer jersey or on top of a couple of layers if things are chillier. Sportful offer the gilet in seven sizes, so there’s plenty of choice.
The build quality is excellent, too, and you’ll also find a storm flap over the front zipper, as well as reflective details on the front and rear, with three well-sized stripes just above the tail.
All that makes for an excellent gilet if you want a single piece to use year-round, primarily working to protect you from the wind but also throwing an element of water resistance into the mix. There’s no escaping it’s pricey for a gilet at £85, but it remains competitive against other high-end rivals.
Versatile; windproof and water resistant
Attention to detail
Added versatility comes at a cost
Breathability suffers when working hard in milder temperatures
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