Featherlight by name, featherlight by nature, this gilet from Craft Performance is extremely lightweight and packable. Does it still do as good a job at protecting you from the elements as a gilet should?
A gilet, or sleeveless vest as described here is useful when the weather is being unpredictable as an added layer of protection. For that, you need to be able to stow it up the back of your jersey or in one of the pockets. With this one from Craft, I was able to fold (or scrunch) it up into about the size of an orange; easily small enough to fit in a middle pocket. So far so good.
The front section is constructed from a thin rain jacket type material, apparently coated with Durable Water Repellent (DWR). You can feel this coating (a bit like Teflon), and it does a good job at preventing water from penetrating; beading and dripping off instead. It also provides a solid level of wind protection. A soft microfibre collar helps to prevent that sharp plastic zip chaffing - a well thought feature.
At the rear, a meshed fabric - of similar density to a base layer - allows the garment to breathe. Well positioned gills across the shoulders cover the mesh so when in the drops or descending there is no wind chill. That said, in terms of gilets, heavier and higher density ones that I have used do provide better protection. Craft also offer a sole wind vest for worse conditions.
When the weather turns you'll want to be a bit more visible too. The white tested here is quite luminous on its own but reflective text and printed banding across the shoulders add to this. All colours (black, blue, fluoro yellow and white) feature fluorescent yellow banding at the edges too, which help.
Fit on the bike was good. The rear section has a tail like all good jerseys should, so when you're bent over the bike it doesn't creep up your back. I found the medium a little on the large size (184cm, 35in chest) but still, it didn't flap in the wind much thanks to the elastic collar at the base.
The vest has an RRP of £45. If you know the benefit of a decent gilet then this should present reasonable value. The fact this one packs so light is an advantage over the competition, although heavier density ones that I have used do offer better protection. If 'featherweight' is what you want though and a comprehensive gilet, this isn't a bad choice.
Light-packing, comfortable gilet with decent wind protection.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Craft Performance Bike Featherlight Vest 2012
Size tested: Medium, White/Yellow
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?
Its a very lightweight gilet. Something that can hide away in your pockets in case of showers of high winds.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Soft microfibre collar
Water repellent applied to material
Bright yellow strips for visability
As a gilet I've used better. For its packability and weight though it can be forgiven.
It is very thin and lightweight but doesn't feel flimsy.
Lives up to the featherweight name.
Fit around the back could have been better but I probably needed a size smaller.
Around £40 seems to be the going rate for gilets. You can get weightier, more protective ones for this price but they won't pack away. If featherweight is your game, get this.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It did the job of keeping me check warm and dry.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The soft collar.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Slightly loose around the back.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
About the tester
I usually ride: Orbea Onix (Carbon) - Summer, Orbea Asphalt (Alu) - Winter My best bike is: Orbea Alma G10
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Semi pro
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, club rides, mtb,