Put the gilet on and it almost feels ‘not there’ thanks to its low weight and close fit. The main body of the gilet is made from 100 per cent polyester, while the mesh back is made from an 85 per cent polyester and 15 per cent spandex mix, and that extra stretch on the back helps keep the fit close.
The main body of the gilet is windproof and is effective at keeping a chilly breeze off your chest. A gilet is a must have piece of kit for UK cyclists, when, particularly in spring and autumn, it’s too warm for a full jacket, but a little too cool for just a jersey. Pair a gilet with arm and knee warmers, bib shorts and a jersey, and you have a really versatile combination, or chuck it over a long-sleeve jersey when it’s a bit colder for an extra layer of protection
The fabric has also had a water repellent treatment. It’s not waterproof but will keep moisture off the front of your jersey if caught in a light shower or if the road is wet from earlier rain. Most of the back of the gilet is made from a mesh fabric, however, so that’s obviously not as effective.
However, the mesh back does improve breathability. The mesh is black, so not as visible on the road as the rest of the gilet, but it does mean that rear wheel spray stains don’t show up so easily. There is some discreet reflective detail but I’d like it to be a little bigger.
I’d like to have seen pockets added, even just to stash a gel or anything else you need to grab quickly, as it’s easier than having to root around under layers. However, it’s fair to say that most gilets don’t have pockets so that’s more of a personal gripe.
I’ve ridden in a number of Oneten items recently and while, on the whole, the finish is decent for the price, the gilet seems to step things up. The seams are all firmer and neater, and while the the full-length zip was a little fiddly to secure and plain frustrating to use riding along , once done up it sat well and was unobtrusive. A silicone gripper keeps the hem in place with little fuss, though the gilet’s internal label caused a bit of annoyance as it’s huge and can easily be cut off (and was), so it seems a little superfluous to requirements.
The Oneten Element is an effective no-frills gilet at a great price. A few minor improvements would make it perfect but nonetheless it works well out on the road.