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It's expensive, but if you need a gilet that can provide some vital insulation on top of windproof performance, then the Endura Pro SL Primaloft Gilet could be the layer for you.
It all starts with the filling – a Primaloft stuffing that provides vital heat retention. It's thin, so thin in fact that it's still possible to pack the gilet down into a decent-sized pocket. Moreover, it's cut so that there's little fabric wastage anywhere, which helps keep the form small when it's rolled up into a pocket or its own carry pouch.
This means, as the 'Pro' demarcation might suggest, you get a svelte race-ready cut that hugs the body. Don't think it's too restrictive though – it really isn't, with arm holes and waist hems well proportioned to give a real shell-like feeling.
Even with my relatively broad chest I felt like I was able to breathe easily with the medium on test thanks to the stretch side panels, although (as is usual for me) I struggled to ride with the zip done all the way up to the neckline. I blame it on my fat neck, but when done up there's no doubt the collar helps stop draughts sneaking down the neck.
Fundamentally, the close fit allows the gilet to insulate at low speeds, yet easily allow damp heat to escape when you're getting a shift on. I tend to run hot, so this was a welcome surprise in a gilet that's primarily designed for insulation, and it's down to the laser cut holes in the back panel.
The front is where the bulk of the insulation sits, facing the wind, while there's the tiniest amount on the rear to help with that slow speed insulation – but it's clear that this is where the gilet is designed to be an all-day piece of kit. You never need take it off simply because it can help regulate your body temperature so well. If ever I was damp after a faster ride, it was almost always biased around the frontal area, with the rear flank remaining admirably dry.
There's no waterproofing here, so it's strictly a dry-weather garment, but it can be forgiven in that Endura says it's designed to work with the Pro SL Shell for that purpose.
Practicality? Well, the rear sports two elasticated cargo pouches on the flanks (complete with lasered holes to keep gels and bars cool), and a central zipped pocket, which is lined for a little extra protection from the cold, wet elements outside trying to get in, and the warm, damp elements inside trying to get out. I can't say it's fully waterproof, so a plastic case or bag is warranted for a phone and paper (while it still is) money, but it's a little added reassurance.
Endura has even found space to fit a couple of reflective details (primarily in the form of the rear strip) for a little added visibility – necessary in darker season light in the smart black colourway, and still handy on the brighter orange colour you can also have it in.
Quality is undoubted too, with a zip that's easy to pull up and down on the move (shielded underneath by a draught flap that stays handily out of the way), and fabric and seams that look well up to the task of multiple seasons' worth of work.
Just as well, because it costs a (slightly) eye-watering £114.99 (though Rapha's Pro Team Insulated Gilet is another £35), but I have to conclude that, if you look after the Primaloft insulation by washing it properly, it's going to pay you back in performance and utility. If you're less bothered about the pro fit and packability, Endura's own Flipjak Gilet might be worth a look, at £69.99.
It's very expensive, but you get performance to match
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Endura Pro SL PrimaLoft Gilet
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?
It's an outer (or part-ensemble) layer designed to provide more insulation than a standard windproof gilet.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
- Packable, Lightweight Core Body Insulation
- Lightweight, windproof shell panels with PrimaLoft® GOLD insulation
- Stretch windproof side and hem panels
- Laser cut perforations on the back for ventilation
- Packs to fit in rear pocket
- Athletic fit
- Integrates with Pro SL Shell for all-weather system
- Reflective trims
All hems and stitching look very high quality and resilient.
Very insulating when you need it to be, but able to manage heat build-up admirably well.
Sure, it's packable so won't ever be bombproof, but it seems very resilient for a product of this type.
I love the "athletic" race cut – there's just enough give to be comfortable, allowing it to perform at its best in my opinion.
Sizes up very nicely. A medium fits me, but I'd also fit a large quite happily if I wanted a touch more space.
At 162g it's just on the packable side, which is great.
Race-cut garments are rarely as comfortable as this, thanks to the elasticated side panels.
£114.99 is a lot of money, but it's a lot of performance to justify it.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Insulation, good thermal regulation, great fit.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing – save from the initial cost.
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
This is a top-quality, pro-level garment. It has a price tag to match, but you get what you pay for.
About the tester
I usually ride: Canyon Ultimate CF SL 9.0 SL (2016) 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: time trialling, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding