The Sportful Hot Pack Vest is a good windproof gilet that's incredibly lightweight and takes up hardly any space in your pocket when you don't need it on.
It's made from nylon with a little polyurethane thrown in there, and rather than a vent across the yoke, you get mesh panels that run down either side of the back.
The front's fabric doesn't let any wind through while a tall, close-fitting neck and elasticated armholes and hem ensure that cold air doesn't nip in around the edges. You get a baffle behind the zip too.
The gilet is surprisingly water-resistant too thanks to its Schoeller NanoSphere finish. That means tiny particles bound to the fabric repel water – and dirt and oil – and the finish is permanent; it won't wash out over time. Clearly, though, nothing without sleeves is going to keep you particularly dry if it starts hosing down. It's also breathable so you don't feel sticky every time you hit a climb.
If you do start to overheat you can, of course, open the front right up to let cool air in or just take the gilet off and put it in your pocket. You get a stuff sack with a draw-cord closure if you want to use it, although I found it just as easy to fold the Hot Pack into its own rear pocket or to cram it into a jersey pocket while riding along. Packed down it takes up half a jersey-pocket's worth of space at most, and being so light you barely notice that it's there.
The Hot Pack is cut slim so it doesn't flutter about too much in the breeze (I could have done with it a little skinnier, but I'm a beanpole), and although the main fabric isn't stretchy those mesh panels are, so a close fit doesn't feel uncomfortable.
That rear pocket is handy. Lots of gilets don't have pockets on the basis that you'll have them in your jersey anyway, but this small pocket is slightly easier to access so it's useful for an energy bar, for example, or anything else you're likely to want to grab on a regular basis. It comes with a flap over the top to keep the contents in and reflective trim adds a little extra safety.
Extremely lightweight gilet that provides excellent windproofing and surprisingly good water resistance.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Sportful Hot Pack Vest
Size tested: 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?
Sportful say, "Minimum weight, minimum bulk, maximum protection
Windproof, resistant and breathable
Excellent breathability thanks to generous vents on back
Team Saxo Bank use this gilet but you don't need to be a full-on racer to get the benefits - a good windproof gilet is an amazingly useful garment for all kinds of rider.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The Hot Pack has a Schoeller NanoSphere finish. Here's the write-up on that:
"NanoSphere, the nanotech-based finishing technology, allows dirt and water to simply run off the surface of the textiles. This mimics the natural self-cleaning effect of certain plants whose leaves always remain clean, because dirt simply cannot adhere to the finely structured surface, and is easily washed off when it rains.
The natural non-stick and cleaning process, also known as the self-cleaning effect, is transferred to the surface of textiles by means of nano technology. Compared to traditional textile impregnation processes, NanoSphere achieves significantly better results with regards to:
- Water and dirt repelling properties
- Oil repelling properties
- Washing permanence
The protective function of NanoSphere is still retained after frequent use and numerous washing cycles and has no effect on clothing comfort, look, feel, breath ability or elasticity.
Water or such substances as ketchup, honey, coffee or red wine run off. And if they don't happen to run off of their own accord, they can easily be rinsed off with a little water. Cleaning or washing the textiles is significantly easier. The textiles require less frequent washing and are washed at lower temperatures."
So there you go, although I don't think I'd put ketchup on a white gilet and expect anything other than disappointing results. Actually, in the name of thorough testing, I'll go and check that...
[Returns 5mins later] Well, what do you know? I take that back. I just put ketchup on the stuff sack, squished it about a bit and put it under the tap, and it came right off. That's probably the most unusual sentence I'll write this week.
It's mega-light – the lightest gilet we've ever reviewed on Road.cc. Related and probably more important, it takes up very little space in your pocket.
You can get cheaper, but this is a high-quality option.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It does exactly what it's supposed to.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The small size when packed down and stored in a pocket. The high-close fitting neck and little pocket in the back are good too.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Although it fitted closely across the chest, I could have done with it narrower around the waist... but that's an individual fit thing.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Possibly.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
About the tester
Age: 41 Height: 190cm Weight: 75kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a youthful 45-year-old Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.