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Gilet prices can vary hugely from thin, lightweight offerings such as the Endura Pakagilet II at £35, to warmer, more insulated offerings such as the Rapha Pro Team Insulated Gilet costing £140. The Lusso Aqua Challenge Gilet aims to provide big weather protection without the large price tag, and throughout winter testing it has continued to impress, offering plenty of performance for almost half the price of most of its main rivals.
The membrane fabric offers proper protection not only from the wind but also from rain and road spray. This gives it a one-up on gilets such as the Endura Pro SL PrimaLoft gilet, making it much more usable as it's rare that a ride is completely dry here in the UK. I've been thoroughly impressed by the Aqua Challenge's ability to keep the elements at bay throughout its December testing period, although it might be a bit much for warmer spring and autumn rides.
To add visibility Lusso has incorporated a subtle reflective panel at the rear, and the gilet is also available in blue for greater daytime visibility.
The softshell membrane fabric feels heavy duty and durable, but although this means it's great at keeping you warm and dry it does mean it's bulkier in the pocket. If push comes to shove then you can just about squeeze it into a regular jersey pocket, but don't expect to fit much else in there with it.
Unlike some gilets, which can be baggy or shapeless, the fit of the Aqua Challenge impresses. It's snug and plenty aero enough for fast training rides without the need to size down. The length is also ideal, providing full-length protection with no sign of riding up.
A high collar helps to keep out the wind and the full-length zip feels high quality, as you'd expect from YKK.
On the rear of the gilet you'll find four good size pockets, with plenty of storage space for a century ride's worth of supplies. Three of these pockets are conventional open top, with the fourth being zipped. The three open-topped ones are well positioned for easy access, and because of the gilet's stretchy, snug fit the contents are held securely.
For more valuable possessions, phones, money, keys and so on, the side-entry zip pocket is ideal; it's larger than you'll find on many products, a welcome feature given most of today's supersized phones. The small zip size means it's not the easiest to access while on the move and wearing gloves, but to be honest I was just glad I didn't have to worry about my phone bouncing along the tarmac.
One area I feel could be improved is breathability. Although the heavier material means the Aqua Challenge offers better rain protection than other gilets, the thickness of the rear panel does mean your back can get sweaty.
Overall, the Aqua Challenge offers brilliant protection from the elements at a very attractive price. Just bear in mind that it works best as a gilet you'll keep on for the duration of a ride because it's a bit bulky for a jersey pocket.
Will keep you warm and dry for a decent price, ideal for the colder months of the year
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Lusso Aqua Challenge Gilet
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Lusso says: "The Aqua Challenge Gillet is designed for all year use, when the temperature drops its windproof, protecting the core part of your body, the membrane fabric remains breathable whilst still protecting from the rain and if the temperature rises, it will easily fold away."
At £64.99 it's well priced for easy winter layering and protection against the elements.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Reflective panel to rear
Camlock YKK Zippers
4 Rear Pockets (1 zipped)
Designed and Made in Manchester
Brilliant weather protection but rear could be more breathable.
Feels well made, high-quality fabrics have been used and a YKK zip.
Really comfortable, good length and collar height, aero enough without being too tight or restrictive.
I'd describe myself as a small-medium and the Medium gilet fitted me well. If you're borderline sizes then I'd size up rather than down.
Heavy compared to some gilets but the more robust material means greater weather protection and insulation, which make up for it.
Compared to products of a similar cost you get far superior insulation; products of similar performance cost far more than the Aqua Challenge.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
I've machine washed it a dozen times without a problem.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Impressive in the colder months. Not sure I'll be wearing it for "all year round" use as Lusso suggests, but it's had a lot of use this winter.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Warmth and windproofing, comfy and fits well.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I had the black version, which isn't great for daytime visibility.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Looking through the gilets that have recently been tested on road.cc, the Aqua Challenge appears to be most similar to the Rapha Pro Team Insulated Gilet. As this is £140 it makes the Lusso an absolute steal at £65. Of course, there are cheaper gilets out there such as the Primal Stirling and Trimotif, but neither will offer the same insulation or weather protection.
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
An impressive bit of kit that I found perfect on cold rides. If the breathability of the back panel was improved, I would have scored it higher.
About the tester
I usually ride: Specialized venge pro 2019 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,
Jamie has been riding bikes since a tender age but really caught the bug for racing and reviewing whilst studying towards a master's in Mechanical engineering at Swansea University. Having graduated, he decided he really quite liked working with bikes and is now a full-time addition to the road.cc team. When not writing about tech news or working on the Youtube channel, you can still find him racing local crits trying to cling on to his cat 2 licence...and missing every break going...