I need a new gilet. The zip on my old Pearl Izumi gilet has broken. I paid twenty quid for it in an Evans summer sale six years ago and it has served me well. This morning I had a quick look on Wiggle to see what they had for a potential replacement.
Now I know cycling gear can be expensive and often seems over priced, especially at the premium brand end. It has also been a few years since I seriously looked to buy a gilet. Still I was quite shocked at the price range. At the cheap end was a Sportful gilet for £18 while at the top end Wiggle offered an Assos sV.climaSchutz Rainproof Vest for an astonishing £125. I then did a quick search and you can spend £10 more on the same Assos jersey at Evans. You can buy Gore and Pearl Izumi Gilets topping the £100 Gilets, while Rapha naturally top the table with their Softshell gilet for £150. For £150 I can buy a very decent pair of race shoes or still get change from a Berghaus light weight rain jacket.
A gilet is about as basic as cycling clothing gets. Designed to keep the chill off before you warm up, a gilet is a sleeveless sheet of fabric with a zip. In my book an extravagant gilet will have pockets and perhaps some reflective Scotchbrite piping or manufacturers logo.
You would not expect to wear a gilet all day. It does not need to be made of specialist, breathable fabrics; once you have warmed up you take it off. They are designed to be compact and stowable. While it might be fine during a light shower, for more persistent rain you will turn to more adequate wet weather gear, it is not a really a substitute for a rain jacket. A gilet is simple kit for a simple job, I do not see the purpose making them high tech, it doesn’t add value.
Still there must clearly a market for expensive, over-engineered gilets. The we-saw-you-coming departments of cycle clothing manufacturers have evidently tapped a rich, gullible MAMIL vein. But then that does seem to be the mainstay for many marketing departments.
I haven’t decided what to buy yet, but I can guarantee I will not be parting with a three figure sum for a gilet. If you have, then I have probably offended you and well done for getting this. I am not going to apologise for that, but I would love to know what you think of your exclusive gilet. Was it really worth the premium price tag, or on your first ride did you feel, well, like you had been taken for a ride?