The Mavic H2O Vision Vest is a highly technical gilet that's great for commuting, early morning or late evening rides, or those days when you're just not sure what the weather will do.
It's designed for overcast days and low light conditions, through, says Mavic, "the combination of wind chill material and optimized visibility features".
I'm a big fan of gilets because of their flexibility – great as an additional layer on a cold wintry day, an insulator for the start of a chilly spring or summer ride, or an item to throw in your jersey pocket for a day where the weather could be changeable.
By making the vest wind and water resistant, as well as highly visible, Mavic has included all the features you'd want for this type of garment. The technicality makes it even more suitable for those changeable days, or early starts on a training ride or commute.
The first thing you notice when picking up the gilet is how light it is; Mavic markets it as 'featherlight'. The material is super-thin yet contains Dura Rain ST technology, which Mavic claims provides 'rainproofness, stretch and breathability'.
A key benefit of just how minimal the fabric is, is that the gilet packs down small into a jersey pocket. If folded and rolled carefully, it can fit into even the slenderest of pockets and still leave space for a few tools or bits of food. The weight also makes the vest feel inobtrusive when on.
The gilet is 'race cut'. As with many European brands, such as Castelli and Sportful, this means it is most definitely for the racing snake. I'm quite tall and lean, and it fits me perfectly, with no excess material or bunching around the stomach when on the bike. If you're more of a rouleur than mountain goat, you may want to consider sizing up to ensure you get the right fit.
The drop tail means your back is covered properly when low on the bike, and offers your back end a bit of protection from road spray. The bottom hem of the gilet contains an 'exo grip' elastic gripper. This is great for preventing the gilet from riding up, and to help stop rain or spray somehow sneaking its way under the base of the vest. However, this combined with the race cut does make access to pockets in your jersey beneath the vest a little tricky – the close fit of the gilet and the tight grip of the hem means going 'up and under' to rootle around in your pocket when on the move for that last scrap of energy bar can be quite hard, as there's minimal room for manoeuvre.
Similar care and attention has been paid to the collar. The area around the neck and throat is close fitting but not constricting, and is lined with a soft fleecy material that prevents irritation, provides some insulation, and keeps the wind out.
So, given all the technical claims and snazzy fabrics, how does it perform in the wet and wind? I tested the gilet over a number of rides, including during a three-hour session on a damp and murky day in the Chilterns. There were patches of light drizzle, and heavy mist throughout, making the air constantly damp. The gilet worked admirably; I could see the water beading off the Dura Rain ST fabric and running away – my back and core remained dry throughout.
Inevitably, there was a touch of dampness around the arm holes, but the tapered seams in this area did a great job of keeping the majority of the wetness out. The flap covering the top half of the zip helped keep this more exposed part of the vest watertight, and also prevented moisture getting in when I needed to unzip slightly for ventilation.
The chest fabric offers a solid level of protection from the wind, but there's sufficient ventilaton so you don't overheat. Again, the flap over the top of the zip really helps here.
Another key technical element is the reflectivity. There are touches of reflective material on the shoulders and chest, and larger sections around the bottom of the back. These shone super-bright when I took a torch to the gilet in a dark room. The reflective dot strip covering the spine region is also a great touch – the strip of dots shine really bright and seem to attract the eye more than solid chunks of reflectivity.
On a more basic level, the visibility of the vest is also enhanced by the fact that it's predominantly white (or 'Mavic yellow' if you opt for the other colour scheme, which is more expensive, at £110). While this is great for function – being seen – I'm not sure how wise a choice it may be a year down the line. It's the usual 'wash at 30 degrees' instructions, but I'm not convinced that pearly white will last forever...
It's a pricey bit of kit, with an RRP of £97.50, but as I mentioned at the start, the beauty of a gilet is its versatility, and I find myself using them in all seasons. Pearl Izumi's Pro Barrier Lite Vest, which Mat tested last year, is another to consider at £69.99 (and just 76g), and Stu was very keen on dhb's £50 Aeron Lightweight Windslam Gilet. With the amount of technical detailing packed into the lightweight H2O Vision Vest, though, along with the typical high quality of Mavic gear, I'd say it's worth the investment.
Versatile and effective technical gilet that is definitely worth the initial investment
road.cc test report
Make and model: Mavic Vision H2O Vest
Size tested: Small
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?
The Mavic H2O Vision Vest is a versatile and technical gilet aimed at providing an extra wind and rainproof layer packed with features to boost visibility.
Mavic says: "Rainproof vest for overcast, cold weather and low light conditions thanks to the combination of wind chill material and optimized visibility features"
From initial testing, the waterproofing is excellent in low-level rainfall and heavy wet mist. It may not be sufficient for a deluge – but such conditions would require a full jacket to provide protection. The reflective elements are excellent, providing a bright and eye-catching effect.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The vest boasts Mavic's Dura Rain ST fabrics to bead water off the surface of the clothing. Reflective sections are found all around the gilet, with a focus on the rear where a strip of reflective dot panels create a striking impact when light falls on them. The low rear keeps road spray off your lower back, and the soft material around the collar prevents irritation and keeps wind out.
From Mavic's website:
Made from Dura Rain ST, it is 10,000mm rainproof, stretchy and breathable. The drop tail takes care of tyre spray, while the Lycra collar and tapered seams ensure no rain creeps in around the sides.
The yellow trims are designed to be visible in the riding position, plus 3600 reflective highlights and a wider reflective dot panel on the back create explosive visibility when a headlight shines on it.
Plus, its featherlight 2.5 layer membrane is really stretchy, meaning it comes in a super close fit for a stylish silhouette and no flapping.
I have tested the product for around 200km of riding and it is not showing any signs of wear.
The item is race cut and so a very close fit. This is great for me as I am tall and lean – you may need to size up if of a stockier build.
The gilet is very light, and stuffs into a jersey pocket very easily.
It's not cheap, but it does its job really well.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Our test sample had the pre-production label saying 'do not wash' – but we checked and it's the usual sports wash cycle: 30°C, don't tumble dry/iron/dry clean...
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The product performed particularly well in lighter rain and drizzle, keeping your back and core totally dry, bar a small bit of ingress around the arm holes. A test of the high-vis features with a torch in a dark room suggests they have a very effective and striking impact.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The fit is excellent and 'racy', and the product feels light and unobtrusive, making it very versatile. The light weight will make it ideal for early mornings or late evenings in summer – enhanced by its visibility. The rainproofing and windproofing are also really effective.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
My only (minor) complaint is the white colour, which looks great when clean and is good for visibility, but I wonder how long it will last.
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
The Mavic H2O vest is rainproof and windproof, and boasts some excellent reflective features. It is lightweight with a slim fit, meaning it is unobtrusive when worn and not overly invasive on pocket space. It looks great and feels very comfortable when worn. It's a bit pricey, though.
About the tester
I usually ride: Giant TCR / CAnnondale Supersix My best bike is: Giant TCR
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding