The gilet can be the forgotten hero of the cycling wardrobe, but it's often the perfect way of keeping your core toasty, fending off the worst of the weather during colder months. The Lusso Nitelife Gilet (or 'Gillet') does an especially good job on these colder and, crucially, darker months, living up to its name with large reflective panels stitched into the front and rear.
On the front, both breasts are reflective, and the rear has an inverted cross shape tying the pockets to the stripe running centrally down the back. The reflective material is windproof and thermal at the front and it's woven rather than printed, so no chance of the light-reflecting elements getting worn or washed off over time.
The elasticated waistband has a dotted reflective print on it, but this has worn off in a couple of places over the last few months of use, whereas the woven reflective panels appear as fresh as when the gilet arrived.
The fabric dries quite quickly, which you can feel on and off the bike as it has a tendency to keep warm and dry rather than going cold and clammy when you're stood around for the inevitable club ride mechanical.
Fit is in line with other Lusso clothing I've tested, such as the Nitelife Thermal Bib Tights and the Aero50 bib shorts: it's fairly generous but well cut, so it follows your body contours well without bagging or billowing. The front is quite high, which means the gilet stays in place once you're on the bike – there's no rucking at the zip.
The zip itself has a firm toggle that's easy to grab while you're on the bike, so you can open or close the front of the gilet to tune your core temperature.
The collar comes up high and there's a fabric tab so it doesn't rub against the tender under-chin area (or doesn't hurt if it does rub).
The only downside is one typical to so many designs: there's no hook loop. It's one thing that I wish every outer garment would feature as it makes keeping kit tidy so much easier.
At the rear you get three pockets: two on the kidneys and a small zipped pocket on the outer right hand side, which is only really good for keys or small items. A central pocket would be useful, but you're probably going to be wearing this over other pocketed garments, so it probably won't be missed.
In terms of size and usefulness, the pockets are spot on, with plenty of room for a tube, tool, levers and on-ride sustenance. They're quite deep, and the elasticated tops keep everything in while also giving easy access, even when you're wearing thick winter gloves – as long as you know what you're looking for!
I found that I've worn this gilet a lot more than I had expected. The thermal properties mean it's been very useful as an over-garment on cold winter rides for keeping my core temperature up, and it's also been good on milder days as an outer garment to a baselayer/jersey.
I've worn it over most things on dark commutes, which feature a mixture of A and B roads, with the reflective panels providing more opportunity to be seen by other road users. It also folds up pretty easily to stash in a rear pocket if you do find it's become too warm to keep it on.
A well-thought-out garment, with a great cut and some very useful features
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Lusso NiteLife Gillet
Size tested: Medium
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?
Lusso isn't descriptive about the gilet's intended use, but it's easy to see this is a garment that suits many uses. It's neither race wear nor casual, but bridges the gap between various different applications.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Glows Phosphorous white when Lit up in the Dark
360° Reflective for Safety
Breathable Rear Panels
3 pockets (One zipped)
Made in UK
Generally very good, the only niggle is a small amount of reflective print on the waistband has started to come off.
A very useful garment. The most versatile gilet I've had the fortune of wearing.
Some concern over the waistband, but the rest of the garment still looks fresh.
Found it could fit tightly over slim clothing or expand to accommodate bulkier applications such as being worn over a rain jacket.
Slightly on the bigger side of medium. Useful for layering over other clothing.
It's not a lightweight ultra-packable gilet, but the weight is decent.
Very comfy in the right places. Collar and waistband are highlights.
Cheaper gilets can be had, though they might not have the same quality feel and perform the same duties in terms of their all-round reflectivity.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Has been washed with all other clothing without cause for concern. Waistband reflective print seems likely to have come off during use rather than in the wash.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Does the job well, not overly shouty and the simple black/white (or light grey) colouring will work with other colours of clothing. Keeps body temperature where you want it and is comfortingly reflective from a 360-degree angle.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The fit (specifically the cut of the front zip), the reflective panels and the thermal properties.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Lack of central rear pocket.
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 fit and cut of the gilet is fantastic, and there are some really nice touches such as the collar and the quality of the zipper. There's not much going against it, a small worry about the print on the waistband, but the front panels undoubtedly do the job of providing the bulk of the reflective properties so it's more of an annoyance than a concern.
About the tester
I usually ride: Kinesis Racelight T (winter) Cervélo S2 (Summer) My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking