The Morvelo Women's Hemisphere Gilet manages to combine offend-no-one bold geometric good looks with all the performance features you could want, making it a very desirable and genuinely useful option.
A decent, well-fitting, lightweight gilet is, in my book, an absolute must for UK riding, allowing any jersey to be adjusted to suit unexpected (?) inconsistencies in predicted weather. It's great for rest stops too.
In the same price ballpark and almost exactly the same weight as the £77 Café du Cycliste Madeleine Women's Gilet and creeping towards the £125 Rapha Women's Gilet, the Hemisphere is definitely not a budget purchase, but it's not intended to be. As a fully featured gilet designed for day-long year-round use, it's designed to be a balance of low weight, high levels of comfort, versatility and even some style too.
Cost-per-wear on any gilet worth its salt is fairly low, given that it'll last for years, and in the UK will probably be worn (or at least carried) more often than not.
Aside from its striking good looks (Morvelo excels in the tricky balancing act of producing women's cycle clothing that usually fails to offend even the pickiest riders), which go with any cycling outfit, the Hemisphere has all the features a good gilet should have, and more.
The rear is a mesh-like fabric, making for better ventilation where wind resistance is not required, the collar is stretchy and fits snugly but isn't overtight, as do are the arm holes.
There's good length in the body, and the fit is sleek without being shrink-wrapped, suitable for most body shapes. Gripper tape at the rear of the hem prevents that annoying creeping that can happen when riding on the drops for any length of time.
Some gilets do without pockets, but here you get three generous rear pouches allowing plenty of storage options, for a lightweight waterproof jacket, say, or just energy bars and bits and bobs, while an additional zipped pocket is large enough to accommodate a smaller smartphone.
In wear, it's very comfortable, with a barely-there sort of feel that is highly desirable in a gilet. It keeps the wind off well and yet breathes sufficiently – well enough to prevent me from overheating and getting sweaty even in an overwarm long-sleeved jersey ill-advisedly chosen for the conditions.
The sleek fit of the gilet means there's no flapping about, and that gripper tape works well at keeping the hem in place. It's a gilet designed to be worn all day, but it does pack down into its own pocket and was plenty small and light enough to stash in a jersey pocket on the few occasions where I decided to start out without it.
Yes, £80 isn't cheap for a gilet, but it's well made, nicely featured, and a garment that you will reach for time and time again. Used respectfully, it should last long into the future. Other options are available too, if you want to be more spotty, fluoro or bright...
Not cheap but handmade in Europe, stylish and versatile – this will give good service for years. Cost per wear LOW
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Morvelo Women's Hemisphere Gilet
Size tested: Large, Black/White
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?
Morvelo says: "Our Hemisphere Gilet is designed primarily to be worn from the outset of a ride although it can be folded within it's own zipped pocket and stored in a jersey if needed. Breaking the mould of a traditional gilet, the three open rear pockets and 4th zipped side pocket mean it is incredibly versatile and perfect for all day riding. With it's effective windblock, high collar and highly water resistant front, shoulder and side panels it's designed to shield you from the elements whilst the mesh rear panel let's the excess heat and moisture dissipate."
Perfect for year-round riding.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Italian MissionLight 85 polyester with waterproof membrane
Lightweight rear mesh for breathability
Folds into it's own pocket
Embossed neck seam stretch tape
Silicone gripper at the hem
Full length YKK cam-lock zip
3 deep rear pockets
4th hidden zipped pocket in side seam
Heat seal label
Panelled construction for superior fit
Rubberised Morvelo seam tab
Handmade in Europe from Italian fabrics
Available in sizes XS-XL
Machine washable at 30
Superbly well made from good quality fabrics and components.
Does just what a gilet should. Kept the wind off and kept me warm without overheating. Made all riding outfits more versatile.
Seems very durable.
Sleek but not overtight. Body length is good and cut allows for a variety of body shapes.
Roughly on a par with most cycle clothing: size L equivalent to UK14 ish.
Low weight and very packable, making it easy to take along "just in case".
Hem stayed put, sleek cut meant no flapping about and neck and arm openings were snug and comfortable but not tight. Increased ride comfort with its wind resistance and yet remained breathable.
It's not cheap but it IS well made, well featured and should withstand repeated use for years and years, so a good investment. It's a little more than the very similar Cafe du Cycliste Madeleine gilet, but cheaper than Rapha's...
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very easy to look after.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Performed very well indeed.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Design, looks, cut, fabric, features, weight.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Definitely
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, but not one I ride with regularly or we'd clash...
Use this box to explain your score
It's an extremely good gilet, very well designed and very well made, with a superb fit, for regular and long-term use. That suggests either an 8 or 9, and I think for the quality it warrants a 9. A sound investment for any riding wardrobe.
About the tester
I usually ride: Boardman Hybrid Fi My best bike is: Specialized Ruby Elite
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.