A gilet or vest, depending on your geographical location or personal linguistic preferences, is one of the most useful pieces of kit a cyclist can have. Able to transform any outfit, they offer year-round versatility with minimal weight penalty. The Gore Element Lady Windstopper Active Shell Vest sits towards the upper end of the weight spectrum, but it does look great and offers long-ride comfort.
Part of Gore Bike Wear's Element range, this gilet is aimed at the recreational and fitness rider rather than speed demon, and yet it translates easily for that sector of rider too. Made from a polyester fabric outer with Gore Windstopper membrane, it's designed to be fully windproof and also extremely water repellent while retaining breathability.
The main fabric is stretchy, as is the binding to the armholes, helping to keep the wind out. There are two side zipped pockets and reflective accents scattered mostly across the lower back. It's a very good looking gilet, available in some pleasingly bold colours – I particularly liked the bright blue – which should offer a choice to appeal to most riders.
The fit is billed by Gore as slim, which means that if you're on the cusp of the stated sizes you might want to consider going up a size, but the cut is flattering and contoured, with good length in the body to suit all but the tallest or smallest of women.
The fabric is extremely comfortable to wear and perfect for rides where persistent windy conditions are likely. I found it protective both from wind and even heavy showers, it didn't get sweaty and kept me a good stable temperature.
Although the gilet does roll up small enough to pop into a jersey pocket, it's not the smallest and does add quite a lot of bulk, so it's better for rides where sudden warmer conditions are less likely. The fabric is tough enough to cope with rucksack use too, making it a good option for commuters or recreational cyclists.
At this price, the Element vest is at the premium end for a gilet, but it is well made from a tough and durable fabric and should last well, and it gives excellent levels of comfort, so in my opinion it's a good versatile investment.
Versatile and attractive option for those who prefer longevity and long-ride comfort over super-low weight
road.cc test report
Make and model: Gore Element Lady Windstopper Active Shell Vest
Size tested: Extra Large
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Gore Bike Wear says: "A year-round vest just for recreational cyclists. Easily coordinated with other apparel, it looks great on and off the bike. WINDSTOPPER® Active Shell is very breathable and doesn't give wind a chance. Your core stays warm -- without overheating."
It's far more versatile than just being for recreational cyclists and despite being a little heavier than most performance gilets, it does offer levels of performance that would appeal to many more demanding cyclists.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
2 front pockets with concealed zip
Reflective piping in front
Zip tags for easy opening
Fleece-lined, close fit high collar
Reflective logo on front and back
SHELL OUTSIDE: 100% POLYESTER, WINDSTOPPER®MEMBRANE
SHELL INSIDE: 100% POLYESTER
Available in sizes XS-XXL (size L - roughly UK12-14)
Extremely well made, high quality fabrics and components and nicely finished.
Performed very well for long periods on changeable days. Very slightly bulky for rides where it's likely to require stowing too often, but does fit into a jersey pocket if required.
I don't think this isn't going anywhere in a hurry. Tough, durable and well made.
Nicely shaped and suitable for a variety of builds.
Sizing comes up on the small side, so those on the cusp might want to consider choosing a size larger than usual.
Not the lightest but not designed to be.
Very comfortable. The fabric gives a good, stable temperature and is very breathable while also being windproof and water repellent.
At the upper end of the price range for gilets, but this is an extremely well performing piece of kit, is super-versatile and should last for a very long time, so cost-per-wear is very reasonable.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very easy to care for. No problems at all.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Style, bold colours, fabric, level of weather protection, zipped pockets, quality...
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
It's not cheap and it's a bit heavier than most gilets but it's tough, protective, comfortable, versatile and looks good, so it's worth every penny.
About the tester
I usually ride: Boardman Hybrid Fi My best bike is: Specialized Ruby Elite
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.