With a weight of just 39g and a material so thin it rolls up into a tiny ball, the Sportful Hot Pack Ultralight Vest really lives up to its name. Because it takes up so little space in a jersey pocket, there really is no excuse to carry it on every ride, so it's always there when you need it.
The trick with cycling through autumn is being prepared, and having versatile clothing. There is no greater versatility than that offered by a vest (or gilet as they're commonly called). It's perfect for a chilly morning commute and can be easily stowed for the warmer ride home. For training rides it can be pulled on and off as dictated by the weather, or the pace of the ride.
When it comes time to wear it, the Hot Pack Ultralight Vest provides excellent protection from the wind, keeping even the coldest breezes from penetrating your carefully chosen layers. It's water resistant too, not waterproof, an important distinction, but does an impressive job at keeping reasonable showers at bay. Heavier rain is going to require a proper rain jacket.
It's a highly breathable vest. I've had no problems wearing it for the whole duration of a ride, even as the temperature has climbed into the high teens. The full-length zip means it's easy to open it up for ventilation on longer climbs. There are vents and mesh side panels to help keep heat buildup to a minimum too.
As is the case with most Sportul clothing, it's close fitting, I tested a size small and the shape was perfect. That close fit does ensure there isn't any excess fabric to billow in the wind when you're going full chat down the road. Sportful offer a wide range of sizes though.
When you first pull the Sportful Hot Pack Ultralight Vest from its packaging you can't help but feel it's going to be too delicate to last even one ride. But despite the alarming lightness of the material several months of hard use have seen it cope admirably. You can actually be pretty rough with the vest when you're pulling it off and bundling it away into its own pocket for stashing for later use. The material demonstrates ample durability.
While it does stop wind ripping straight through your jersey and base layer, and that goes a long way to preventing the chill, the Ultralight isn't an insulating top and doesn't provide much warmth when the temperature really drops. That's not what it sets out to do though, it's just worth pointing out.
Though it does command a high price tag, you're paying for a seriously lightweight and packable vest that works brilliantly on the bike even in the most demanding riding conditions.
Seriously light and packable gilet that provides impressive wind stopping performance
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Sportful Hot Pack Ultralight 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 lightest most compact protection vest ever made for cycling. You never know when the weather can change so we set out to make the vest that you can always take with you. It takes up only 1/3 of a pocket, weighs 39 grams, is totally wind proof and is highly water resistant. The 7 denier fabric is so fine that each vestt uses 30 km of yarn.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Elastic arm hole closes to keep wind out
Full length zip
Wind proof and water resistant
Hot Pack Ultralight 7 denier fabric
Mesh side panels
Reflective seam taping around pocket
Mesh side panels
Yup it's pricey. It can be found cheaper if you shop around, but the price can be justified if you want the lightest and most packable gilet.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Works well at keeping the wind at bay for early morning rides and is breathable enough to wear for an entire ride.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Great fit and packs up very small, there's always space in a jersey pocket to stuff it.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
You don't get many extras.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
A pricey but excellent performing gilet - the lightest and most packable I've yet tested.
About the tester
Age: 31 Height: 180 Weight: 67
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, mtb,
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.