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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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road.cc 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
Strong overlocked/flatlocked seams are perfectly comfortable.
Mostly keeps out wind and sheds heat well, but the zip is a chink in its windproof armour.
Tight and aero without being restrictive, though maybe a little small across the chest.
Sizes up small, both for chest size and in overall length. Feels at least a size smaller than stated.
Not the lightest, but far from the heaviest and objectively slinky.
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?
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 road.cc?
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.
About the tester
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