The Primal Stirling Men's Wind Vest is a competitively priced, windproof and water-resistant gilet. While it does a solid job and is to my mind one of the best-looking on the market, there are a couple of minor niggles in how it is put together.
The best gilets offer riders decent protection from wind and rain despite being constructed from gossamer-thin materials. The Primal Stirling is a decent example.
It is polyester with a smooth, windproof front and back, and more of a mesh construction down the sides for breathability.
It has four pockets on the back: two fairly standard-sized ones in the centre and then two fractionally smaller mesh ones either side. (My three-pocket-accustomed brain struggled to guide my hands into these side pockets during rides, but I can't blame Primal for that.)
The front features a full zip and while it somewhat inexplicably lacks the fabric wind panel that you'd normally expect to find behind, I can't say I particularly noticed the wind whistling through on descents.
In the plus column, there's a nice high neck – which, for me, is a vital feature in a wind vest. This has a thin layer of fleecy material around the inside, which is most welcome – although the lack of a panel or housing means there's nothing to keep the zip away from your Adam's apple. This could prove niggly, depending on how tight the neck is on you. (On the medium, it's about 40cm/15.5 inches.)
There's a silicone gripper around the bottom of the vest to keep it down. This is just as well because ideally I'd have liked it to be an inch or two longer. I'm 185cm tall, which is probably tallish for a medium, but I'm mostly legs, so I don't think I'll be the only person who has slight issues with the length.
The vest performed well in terms of the protection it offers. On a quick, flat ride in short sleeves, I felt noticeably warmer because of the lack of breeze, but the mesh sides kept me from overheating.
In rather more challenging autumnal weather in the Peak District, the vest revealed itself to be a welcome extra layer on descents without being smotheringly warm when working my way up a steep slope.
On one occasion I (completely inadvertently) tested its limits by wearing nowhere near enough clothing for that day's weather. I can reveal that the Primal Stirling is no miracle worker, but offers decent water resistance considering its thickness. Also, if you take it off for a café stop, it'll be completely dry when you set off again.
It also scrunches up small enough to fit in a jersey pocket on those seemingly rare occasions when the weather's kind and it's not actually needed.
You can get windproof gilets for 20 or 30 quid, but I think this is a notch above that level, both performance-wise and, particularly, in terms of looks. My partner was sufficiently impressed by its appearance to ask, 'Is that actually cycling clothing?' when I first put it on, which I can assure you is a great compliment indeed.
In terms of specific rivals, the Lusso Skylon gilet is a little bit cheaper, but to my mind the Primal Stirling Wind Vest is a lot better looking, which, if you agree, might make it worth paying the extra for. In fact, aesthetically, I'd rank it above rivals that are twice the price, such as the £99 Neon Velo Lightweight Gilet or the £105 Pedal Ed Odyssey Vest.
A good looking, effective gilet at a far from outlandish price
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Primal Stirling Men's Wind Vest
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
It's a lightweight windproof and water resistant gilet.
Primal says, "Total coordination with the Stirling line, this blue and black stripe gilet accompanies the bib shorts, jersey and arm warmers as well.
"Wind and water resistant, it is constructed with lightweight Altero fabric and mesh panels. It has 4 pockets, 2 solid back pockets at the back and 2 mesh pockets, 1 on each side which is great for those used gels and and food wrappers.
"The Wind Vest is perfect for unpredictable weather. Wind and water-resistant, with lightweight Altero fabric and a 2-way YKK zipper, allows you to create additional airflow while keeping cold air off your chest. Three rear cargo pockets provide easy access to store warmers and additional layers. It's an essential part of any cycling kit."
Nice high neck which is lined with a thin strip of fleece.
Warm and windproof and scrunches up small – but why no wind flap behind the zip?
Gilets are thin and therefore not perhaps the most durable garments, but it seems well stitched and the zip is chunky and reliable.
Nice cut without being at all restrictive. Ideally it would be just a touch longer.
Described as 'race cut' on the inside. I think I'm probably the larger side of medium in most brands and this fits me pretty well.
Plenty of gilets come in under 100g but we're not talking much of a difference.
Felt the zip against my neck a bit, but no other issues.
Performs well and looks better than far more expensive rivals.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
After four or five washes, it seems just as water resistant.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Does a solid job, though it could be a little longer. It protects against cold winds without making you overheat.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The high neck.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The short back and the lack of any kind of flap behind the zip.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
You can get windproof gilets for 20 or 30 quid, but this is better looking in my opinion. The Lusso Skylon gilet is a little bit cheaper, but some are twice the price – the Neon Velo Lightweight Gilet is £99 and the Pedal Ed Odyssey Vest £105, for example, and aesthetically I'd rank it above both.
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 overall score
Great looking and works well with only very minor flaws.
About the tester
I usually ride: Scott S40 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 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