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The dhb Aeron Lab Superlight Waterproof Gilet features a race cut which prevents rustling and material flapping, with a super-short front best suited for holding an aero position in the drops. The gilet is lightweight and packs down small, making it easy to stuff into a jersey pocket, yet despite this it offers surprisingly impressive protection from both wind and rain.
You could be forgiven for wondering how much benefit the Aeron Lab, at just 88g, can really offer when conditions turn less than ideal. However, after six weeks or so with the gilet I've been thankful to have had it stuffed in a jersey pocket on plenty of occasions.
I think the fact that it's so easy to take on rides is particularly important; I've worn plenty of gilets that offer good protection but are impractical to store when not needed, and so get left at home – the very good Lusso Aqua Challenge, for example. The dhb packs down to a size that comfortably fits into all but the very smallest of jersey pockets, and is now the first thing packed when conditions look anything but perfect.
As with most of dhb's Lab range, expect a close, race-cut fit that's designed for holding an aero position rather than wandering around the local cafés.
Other than the cut, the gilet shares many of its features with the slightly more relaxed Aeron Rain Defence gilet, and just like that one is available in blue or orange for people wanting something a bit more visible.
Although I was expecting an aggressive cut, I was still surprised by just how short it is at the front, sitting at about my belly button, with even dhb's own Lab jerseys protruding by about an inch. Although this won't be to everyone's taste, when in the drops it makes absolute sense, preventing any excess material and therefore bunching or bagginess around the chest.
A small amount of stretch around the arm holes and shoulders keeps things fitted in these areas without being restrictive.
A dropped tail also ensures maximum possible protection from road spray coming off the rear wheel.
dhb gives a recommended temperature range of between 8 and 25°C, and thanks to a classic British summer it's been possible to test all of it – sometimes in one ride! I wouldn't choose to wear it right up to 25 degrees – if it starts raining when it's that hot then I'd rather just enjoy the hot shower; up to 18 degrees seems more realistic before it will simply be more comfortable with it off.
At the other end of the spectrum, when paired with a decent baselayer/arm warmers, 8°C seems reasonable. The gilet does an excellent job of keeping out the windchill even on fast descents, and 30,000mm waterproofing does an equally excellent job of keeping you dry. Taped seams help, although I did notice a tiny amount of ingress through the zip, but all in all the gilet performed admirably and far better than many 'waterproof' jackets I've tested.
Breathability is good too – it's rated at 30,000g/m2 – and the double zip means you can unzip from either the top or bottom for added ventilation. This also makes accessing jersey pockets underneath it easier.
For snacks and quickly storing the odd item, the gilet itself has two pockets, one on either side, with drainage holes to ensure water doesn't stick around. The lack of stretch of the material in this area does mean that heavier items will drag the gilet around, and I wouldn't store anything too valuable in them as they aren't elasticated at the top, but they'll do for temporary banana storage. The slight angle of the pockets makes access extremely easy.
Other features include reflective accents, those being the text on the back as well as two vertical stripes, but limited to just the small logo on the front.
A section of microfibre across the back of the neck adds to the quality feel, and the zip pulls may not look like much but are easy to use even with numb hands or while wearing gloves.
At £100 the dhb is by no means cheap, its price putting it in competition with typically more expensive brands. Few offer the same combination of weather protection and race fit, though.
Rapha's DWR-treated and even lighter (55g) Explore Lightweight Gilet is £85, but has a more relaxed fit, while its Pro Team Lightweight Gilet (review to come) is £90 but doesn't offer rain protection.
If you don't require full-on waterproofing, you can spend a lot less: the Stolen Goat Palace Bodyline gilet will save you a fair bit at £65.
My overriding feeling is that the Aeron Lab gilet has a very specific time and place: hard rides when speed is important, and for this it fits the bill perfectly. If you're not going to use it for that purpose then there are far cheaper gilets out there, especially if you don't require the race fit, and more versatile options if you're not going to hold an aero position the entire time while wearing it.
Race-cut and packable gilet offering excellent protection
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road.cc test report
Make and model: dhb Aeron Lab Superlight Waterproof Gilet
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
dhb says: "Waterproof protection for cycling needn't be heavy and poorly fitting, the dhb Aeron Lab Superlight Waterproof Gilet proves you can enjoy a race-bred fit, impressive protection from the rain and do it all without being bulky."
The gilet is ideally suited to those either racing or when speed matters.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Suggested temperature range 8 to 25 degrees C
3 Layer waterproof fabric - taped seams
Breathability 30,000 g/m2-24hr -Waterproof 30,000 mm H2O
Superlight and packable - 85 grams (size medium)
2 back pockets with laser-cut drain holes
Reflective logos and trim
Breathable Stretch centre back panel to enhance fit and comfort
2 way lightweight centre front zip for venting use
Long glove-friendly silicon dipped zip pulls
Silicone elasticated gripper at hem and elasticated armholes
Very waterproof, very windproof and breathability is also impressive. Tick, tick, tick.
Very nice – elasticated areas ensure no flapping, and dropped tail offers ample protection, but the front is very short.
Expect a race cut. The dhb size chart is accurate but follow its advice: 'If you have an athletic cyclist's physique and want this performance feeling, go for your normal dhb size. For riders with a larger frame or those who prefer the fit of dhb Aeron kit, we suggest you go up a size.'
It's got quite a niche job. I wouldn't for example choose to wear this gilet on the easy Sunday club run, the aero cut limits its use to hard and fast training sessions and races.
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
Very well, and is so packable that you're likely to always have it with you.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The waterproofing – it's better than most jackets.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I like being aero and I like riding fast, but the short front does look a bit silly when you stand up at the end of a smash fest.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It is expensive for a lightweight gilet with no thermal credentials, but its performance is excellent, and cheaper competition rarely combine this much weather protection with such a good fit.
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
It performs its purpose extremely well. The protection from wind and water is excellent and the fit is tip-top if you're after something that won't flap around. It is expensive, though, and the very short front is impractical for anything but in the drops.
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,