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The Nopinz Souplesse Gilet is a lightweight, packable option perfect for spring, summer and autumn when you need another windcheating layer.
Protection from chilly breezes is brilliant – nothing got through, even on pre-dawn blasts – and clamminess has been a moot point even when I've been cruising along at a steady 20mph for a couple of hours or so, with a decent base and jersey underneath.
It's much the same story when temperatures hit the mid-teens, although unless there's been a stiff breeze taking the edge off I've tended to slip it into a jersey pocket by then.
The laminated fabric seems to offer the core reasonable protection from drizzly rain too. More aggressive cloudburst will make inroads given 15 minutes or so, but it dries expediently too –especially with a breeze in tow.
Nopinz describes the fabrics as 'premium Italian'; it's a polyester/elastane mix and a rather nice one at that. The body panels are thin but feel sturdy and have a slippery texture, while the two stretchy mesh side panels help to encourage dispersal of heat and sweat.
Detailing and standards of construction are excellent, though only what I'd expect at this price point: flat seams and uniform stitching; a sensibly high collar that features mesh backing for comfort; and elasticated cuffs around the shoulders and garment, along with a relatively thin but substantial silicone hem that does a good job or preventing it riding up.
The one rear pocket is relatively deep, and though it's not the widest it will swallow a road tube (700x25-32), tyre levers and a couple of energy bars. It's also reinforced, so holds its shape, preventing contents from bobbing around. Leaving these in situ hasn't hindered me stuffing it all into a jersey pocket when not needed.
Zip pulls/tags are one of my bugbears and the Souplesse's are smaller than I'd like, making it tricky when it comes to things like trying to retrieve something from the pocket at a decent pace, especially when wearing full finger gloves, or donning the gilet mid-ride – I found it best to leave it on and simply drop the front zip when needing more airflow.
I'm slightly unusual in terms of proportions – broader across the shoulders than my 181cm height and 70kg build would imply, and also relatively short in the torso. I found the Nopinz graced my frame perfectly, with an excellent cut – by which I mean, exactly as is implied in the blurb. It permits layering without bunching, and doesn't flutter like a bin bag when worn over a thin, summer-weight jersey.
Formative rides were at 5am, with the thermostat barely making it to single figures, which meant winter weight baselayers and jerseys. I was also running a helmet light with a bulky battery pack stowed in the pocket. The cut and stretchy fabric ensured this didn't intrude, and shifting position from drops to hoods and tops, or reaching for a bottle, was effortless.
That said, my default is medium and the size on test is a large – so when it comes to ordering, you might want to size up.
One drawback for some will be that black is the only option; there is some retro-reflective detailing, but it might be a little stealthy for some. Black does go with most things in the wardrobe, though, and it's great for hiding oily smudges and the like. It's washing well, too, when needed. I've stuck religiously to 30 degree machine washes and minimal detergent. From here, it'll line dry in around 20 minutes with a little sun and a gentle breeze.
Though primarily a road garment, I've not shied away from regular bridlepath pootling and more spirited green lane exploration. The odd thorny branch has plucked at the fabric but no obvious wear, let alone damage, to date.
To some extent you can spend as little or as much for a gilet as you like these days. For example, the Van Rysel Windproof Gilet Racer is £35 – pretty good going for a windproof, breathable design with water-repellent front and three jersey-style pockets around the back.
Lusso's Aqua Challenge Gilet has gone up to £80 since Jamie tested it in 2020. That buys you a waterproof front panel (rated to 10,000mm), though Jamie did find it's a bit bulky to fit into a typical jersey pocket.
The Nopinz Souplesse gilet is a very competent, easily packable choice that is more versatile than those with a more racy cut. The slightly fiddly zip tags could be bigger, but otherwise this is a very good design whose performance generally matches the design brief.
Capable gilet with great performance overall, though the zip tags need a steroid injection
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Nopinz Souplesse Gilet Men's
Size tested: Large
Tell us what the product is for
Nopinz says "Pedal with effortless style in the Souplesse range.
This lightweight, packable gilet is a perfect addition to those spring, summer and autumn rides where you might want an extra layer at the ready.
The gilet uses premium Italian fabrics in a more relaxed, comfortable fit than the Pro-1 range, a cut that allows for layering. Incorporating mesh side panels for improved breathability, a high neck for added warmth and a handy rear zipped compartment to keep any essentials close to hand."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
A lightweight, packable gilet.
Cut to allow for layering.
The perfect final outer layer.
Features one rear zipped compartment.
Mesh side panels.
High neck for warmth.
Thin but durable fabrics, zips, and high standards of construction.
Allows comfortable layering and offers excellent protection from harsh early-season wind and light showers. Packs nicely into average jersey pockets when not required, although bigger zip tags would improve matters.
Wears and washes well. No reason to think it won't be durable.
Bang on, given the design brief. Permits layering without bunching or compromise, and doesn't flutter when worn over just a thin, summer-weight jersey.
Comes up on the small side. I'm usually a medium, but large fitted my 181cm 70kg frame.
Generally excellent, but bigger zip tags would make pulling on/off and (in the context of the pocket) accessing stuff that little bit easier.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very straightforward: machine wash at 30 degrees with minimal detergent and line dry.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The fit is really nice, allowing for sensible early season/autumnal layering but without billowing when worn atop a summer-weight jersey. The rear pocket is genuinely useful and holds contents securely. The small zip tags made donning and removal tricky, especially when wearing full finger gloves, so really need improvement.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Great fit and cut, thin and packable, yet reassuringly rugged materials.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Zip pullers could do with being bigger.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's quite an investment but still cheaper than Rapha's Explore and Brevet options, £90 and £95 respectively. Lusso's Aqua Challenge Gilet is a couple of quid less at £80, but a bit bulky to fit into a typical jersey pocket.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Possibly, if the zip tags were upgraded.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Worth considering.
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's very good – performs well and gets most things right. Room for improvement as regards the zipper tags though.
About the tester
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)