I’m used to my gilets being slim cut, fitted, summer, roadie wear, with a pocket on the back to access my gels because obviously I’m going far too fast to stop to eat anything proper. So when I got this fairly loose cut and aggressively flouro vest, I thought it was a bit on the ‘leisure cyclist’ side of styling, and that it was probably an item I could live without. However, come wet days and dark nights, it has come into its own and I have come to rather like it.
In fact, on my commute I’ve taken to wearing it every ride. Let’s face it, few of us are lucky to spend every ride off-road being rad and awesome. Sometimes you just have to get from home to work and back again with a minimum of fuss, preferably avoiding near death experiences.
We were lucky this year; much of autumn was mild enough that with the Windstopper fabric of this gilet, my core was warm and only a long sleeved jersey was needed underneath. As things got cooler, I stuck some arm warmers on under my jersey, and still I was nicely toasty. Even in light drizzle, the showerproof fabric meant my core stayed comfortable.
Then things got properly wet, at just about the same time as the clocks changed and things got properly gloomy. My waterproof jacket is black – bought at a more blasé time when I didn’t have children waiting for me at the school gate. After a couple of rides, I realised that I was missing the vest. In the half light of a wet morning, or the afternoon dusk, when it’s still light enough that lights aren’t that visible, the lurid yellow gave me a bit more confidence that drivers were going to see me coming.
At this point, the ‘leisure cyclist’ cut is rather handy. It’s a snug but comfortable fit over my fitted roadie commuter gear, even when I’m wearing a waterproof. I’ve also come to appreciate the extra warmth that the Windstopper Active Shell fabric gives me – my waterproof is one of those lightweight packable types, and the extra breeze blocking capacity of the Windstopper is noticeable. The Element is is a comfortably fitting vest with room around the midriff for thicker or multiple layers, and a nicely sized neck – snug enough to keep the draughts out but without being uncomfortably tight.
There are zipped pockets on the front which while, not big enough for something as bulky as a purse, are big enough for a bank card and your keys. There’s a few reflective flashes on the shoulders and rear, but nothing especially eye catching – although if this is something you demand then Gore also do a ‘Visibility AS Lady Vest’ which has more reflective bits and is only available in flouro yellow.
I did wear it on a couple of mountain bike rides and again found it handy for those chilly but not cold rides, but admit to feeling a little self conscious. It’s definitely not ‘enduro flouro’, and if you’re only going to wear it off road then you may want to go for one of the other colour options: blue, ‘jazzy pink’, or black.
Overall: Contrary to my expectations, this is a useful addition to my riding wardrobe.
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|Product:||Element Lady WS AS Vest|
|Tested:||by Hannah for 2 months|
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Is there a blokey version?
Good review and I have the same view on these type of garments. Essential commuter apparel with a good crossover into mtb use. I have a ‘blokey’ Louis Garneau version. Years old, but still gets used a lot despite no commute now. I don’t (to old to) care if it’s flouro yellow isn’t ‘enduro’ or ‘stealth’ enough.
Hodge, yes, there is a men’s version – the ‘Element WS AS Vest’, although it’s not quite so flouro as the women’s.