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Primal Randonneur Gilet



A well-made and useful gilet for chilly days, but not as versatile as it could be – and check the fit

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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With a hugging race cut and zero insulation, the Primal Randonneur Gilet sets out to do one job well – stop the winter air stealing your body heat. Bar a single design niggle and sizing that comes up very small, it succeeds.

  • Pros: Close fit, no flapping, good for hard efforts, not black
  • Cons: Sizes up small, zip not fully windproof

It's made principally from Altero, a polyester fabric that's windproof and water-resistant, and it certainly blocks even freezing draughts well. Sadly, the same can't be said of the big-toothed YKK zip, which lets cold air seep through across the chest. It's a gradual cooling rather than a draught, but it's noticeable at speed, especially on chilly descents. A flap behind the zip would probably fix this, but the Randonneur lacks one.

Primal Randonneur Mens 4 Pocket Wind Vest - chest.jpg

Incidentally, Primal claims the zip is '2 Way' for 'additional airflow while keeping cold air off your chest' – which sounds like it should also open from the bottom, ski jacket style. It doesn't. It's just a normal zip. Perhaps 2 Way means it goes down as well as up?

Primal Randonneur Mens 4 Pocket Wind Vest - hem.jpg

The neck is pleasingly tall and lined with soft microfleece, and despite being tight-fitting and there being no zip garage, it's very comfy against the skin. At the other end, a full circle of silicone gripper keeps both the front and well-dropped tail firmly in place.

The sides of the gilet are mesh, but as they don't face the windblast there's no issue there with draughts. It's a garment designed for hard efforts, so it doesn't have you boiling over even on warmer days – just unzipping is enough to regulate temperature, so you're unlikely to be stuck whipping it on and off. It's comfortable enough and silent, with zero flap or noise, to be worn for entire rides.

Primal Randonneur Mens 4 Pocket Wind Vest - riding.jpg

So, while it's pretty light at 123g and scrunches down to fist-sized, it's more than just an emergency layer to stow away, thanks largely to four generous rear pockets (two fabric, two mesh). Though they're elasticated, they're not quite deep or tight enough for me to trust them with a phone, though clothing and gels stay perfectly secure.

Primal Randonneur Mens 4 Pocket Wind Vest - pockets.jpg
Primal Randonneur Mens 4 Pocket Wind Vest - side pockets.jpg

The fit was more of a problem. The Randonneur is cut slim, while the fabric gives barely a couple of centimetres of stretch. This makes sizing critical, and – race cut or not – it comes up small. Primal lists the medium for chests of 96-104cm, and though I'm bang in the middle of that range, it proved both too tight across the chest and rather short in the body.

Sizing up to a large (104-109cm) fixed it, but even this sits across my pectorals in a way that makes me glad I'm not 109cm – even with just two thin layers beneath. Surely even racers need room to breathe? In the large, I never felt restricted while riding, though it's still as tight as I'd ever want a not-especially-stretchy top to be. Bear this in mind if you're towards the top end of any bracket.

Primal Randonneur Mens 4 Pocket Wind Vest - shoulders.jpg

If you're looking just for emergency wind protection, the likes of Condor's Professional Gilet or dhb's Aeron Windslam can be cheaper, lighter and smaller when packed. Perhaps the Randonneur's greatest rival, though, is the £55 Shimano Compact Wind Vest, which does a very good job.

> Buyer's Guide: 9 of the best cycling gilets

With a wind-flap behind the zip, the Randonneur would be useful to far lower temperatures and a real go-to garment. As it is, however, it's a well-made and reliable gilet for taking the edge off during cold, rather than freezing, rides.


A well-made and useful gilet for chilly days, but not as versatile as it could be – and check the fit test report

Make and model: Primal Randonneur Gilet

Size tested: Medium

Tell us what the product is for

Primal says: "This Race Cut Wind Vest or Gilet is the most versatile piece in the Primal Collection, perfect for unpredictable weather. This wind and water resistant vest is made with lightweight Altero fabric and a 2-way YKK zipper that allows you to create additional airflow while keeping cold air off your chest. Two rear cargo pockets provide easy access to store warmers and additional layers, whilst the addition 2 another 2 mesh side pockets allow extra storage."

The zip is a normal zip.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Primal lists these features:

* 2 Way Exposed YKK Zipper

* 3 Rear Cargo Pockets

* Altero Fabric

* Microfleece Lined Collar

* 100% Polyester | 90 gsm

Rate the product for quality of construction:

Strong overlocked/flatlocked seams are perfectly comfortable.

Rate the product for performance:

Mostly keeps out wind and sheds heat well, but the zip is a chink in its windproof armour.

Rate the product for durability:
Rate the product for fit:

Tight and aero without being restrictive, though maybe a little small across the chest.

Rate the product for sizing:

Sizes up small, both for chest size and in overall length. Feels at least a size smaller than stated.

Rate the product for weight:

Not the lightest, but far from the heaviest and objectively slinky.

Rate the product for comfort:

Very good.

Rate the product for value:

I'd rate it higher if the zip was truly windproof – versatility would be seriously boosted.

How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?

No issues.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Good in mild to cool temperatures (say 8-15°C), but can let your chest chill in strong windblasts around 5°C or less.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Colourful (but not garish) design aids visibility.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The lack of a windflap behind the zip.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on

Around average for a simple (well-made) wind vest, and cheaper than many more fancy ones.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Maybe

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Maybe

Use this box to explain your overall score

This is a well-made, stylish gilet with a good fit (once you get around the suspect sizing), and it would easily deserve a 'very good' score of 8... if only it were truly windproof. The leaky – if not actively draughty – zip holds it back by limiting the temperatures it fully works in. Overall, it's good but could be very good.

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 45  Height: 183cm  Weight: 78kg

I usually ride: GT GTR Series 3  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: A few times a week  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: general fitness riding, mountain biking

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