FINDRA Barra Waffle Merino Gilet – A dash of luxury on the trail

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This Barra Waffle Merino Gilet from FINDRA is a unisex gilet made in the UK from ethically sourced Merino wool. Made with two layers, the inside is a fine knitted plain knit layer, while the outside is a waffle texture knit that’s designed to act as a wind stopper. Cold air should get trapped between the inner and outer layers, keeping your core warm. The merino gilet does up with a full length zipper, and there are two hand pockets on the front. As you’d expect from a bike garment, the back is longer to prevent a gap when leaning forward – which according to the marketing also makes it handy for gardening.

FINDRA Barra Waffle gilet merino gilet
FINDRA Barra Waffle gilet merino gilet
FINDRA Barra Waffle gilet merino gilet
Drop back

The FINDRA Barraw Waffle gilet is available in sizes XS to XL, in a choice of navy blue or grey. I would usually wear a UK 12 top, and tested the Medium. I would say it fits as I’d want around the bust (mine is a small one if you’re trying to figure out what size will suit you) and is perhaps a touch baggier that I’d really like around the waist. The length is good though – something I usually find a problem in smaller sizes. On balance, it’s probably about right for me, though if I had access to their shop and a Small I’d be curious to see how it fitted.

As with every other FINDRA merino item I’ve seen, this merino gilet exudes cosiness and quality. The seamless finish, the detail in the knitted hems and the overall build quality will have anyone that’s ever tried to knit so much as a scarf fondling it in wonder. But is it any good on the trail, or would you be better to wear it for raking the lawn?

On The Trail

I do like the practicality of a gilet – they’re great for keeping your core warm without leading to overheating – and I’ve had a few over the years. This is the first time I’ve had one that doesn’t have some sort of wind-stopper impermeable layer, and I was surprised at how effective the knit was as keeping cool morning chills at bay on the descent from my house. It’s not as totally wind blocking as, say, a Goretex gilet, but it’s enough to stop that gasp of horror as your lungs freeze inside and out on a frosty morning. Once you get pedalling, the lack of total wind proofing trades off into a nice balance of protection and breathability, meaning I’ve not been so inclined to find myself needing to unzip or strip off after getting warmed up on the ride. It’s also a handy layer to go underneath a waterproof on cooler days – keeping your core warm but leaving your arms free to breath and avoiding that baked potato sensation you can get when all wrapped up just a bit too much.

FINDRA Barra Waffle gilet merino gilet

If you ride a lot of overgrown trails, you probably want to wear this as an under-layer – while the fine knit isn’t as catching on undergrowth as some woollen items, the gilet doesn’t shrug off bramble strikes like a softshell or waterproof finish, and it would be a terrible shame to bring about its early demise. Obviously, being merino, you only need to wash it every 100 years – or more frequently if you have friends you’d like to keep – but it has survived the hand wash cycle with extra low spin setting on my washing machine so there’s no need to test out that ‘washes itself naturally’ theory too much. 

It’s not as light and packable as you’d look for in a ‘just in case’ item – or even one you were pretty sure you were going to want to take off as long ride got going – though pulling it out of your pack and putting it on in the pub certainly feels like a treat. For summer rides where the golden hour glow turns cool, it’s a cosy addition to put on, and on those summer days perhaps like me you’ll find you’ve got a bit more room in your pack without the winter’s day packing list of hat/waterproof/spare gloves etc, making carrying this an option.

I’m usually all for pockets, but in this instance I feel that the fine knitted fabric isn’t supportive enough for them, and while it’s nice to have somewhere to put your hands I think I’d prefer a cleaner and more flattering line around the stomach – stuff a tissue in there and it’s only going to make me look even lumpier.

I generally find that raking the lawn is a hot experience, but if you do choose to wear this gilet for gardening, or going to the shops, or taking a hike, you’ll not look out of place. On the trail, I think it’s better suited for more casual rides, rather than far flung forays – while it performs well, the relative bulk and weight of the gilet compared to one made of more technical or synthetic fabrics means it takes up more room and weight in my pack than I’d be prepared to sacrifice on a big day out. However, if you’re totally committed to natural materials and the avoidance of DWR coatings, plastic based polymers and the like, you might feel otherwise.

FINDRA Barra Waffle gilet merino gilet

Overall

For me this falls into the ‘very nice to have as a luxury item’ category of bike wear, rather than a kit essential. It would make a great gift for a rider, as I think people buying for themselves are likely to think they need to pick something more practical with technical features like packability or splash proof coatings. But if you’re happy to treat yourself, or are lucky enough to be given this as a gift, then you’ll snuggle into this with a warm glow of knitted merino luxury that you won’t get from a packable stuffable windstopper number.

FINDRA Barra Waffle gilet merino gilet

Review Info

Brand: FINDRA
Product: Barra Waffle Merino Gilet
From: findraclothing.com
Price: £125
Tested: by Hannah for 3 months
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  • This topic has 15 replies, 9 voices, and was last updated 9 months ago by Ben.
Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 15 total)
  • FINDRA Barra Waffle Merino Gilet – A dash of luxury on the trail
  • matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    That does sound lush…. I’ve a friend who wears a fair bit of Findra – and it’s really simple, nicely made and functional kit.

    Nobeerinthefridge
    Free Member

    £125 for a still game cardigan.

    honourablegeorge
    Full Member

    It’s quite nice looking but strikes me as totally unsuited to cycling

    Rubber_Buccaneer
    Full Member

    Those on a budget take a look at what Damart have to offer 😀

    ditch_jockey
    Full Member

    £125 for a still game cardigan

    Even as an almost pensioner, I wouldn’t wear that, but that and the polka dot shorts are a good reminder that taste in clothing styles is a very subjective thing. If you’re into the OAP look, then £125 is probably on a par with what you’d pay for a similar merino item from the likes of Icebreaker.

    Nobeerinthefridge
    Free Member

    The shorts are very Morvelo.

    Hannah Dobson
    Full Member

    Shorts are by Wild Rye, from a few years back: https://singletrackworld.com/2019/07/first-look-wild-rye-clothing-for-women-in-the-mountains/

    chakaping
    Free Member

    Looks good for bikepacking on your £1.7k steel hardtail frame though.

    Ben
    Full Member

    Cy from Cotic’s dad has launched a waterproof, breathable gilet that looks the business. Much more competitively priced too..

    brant
    Free Member

    Cy from Cotic’s dad has launched a waterproof, breathable gilet that looks the business. Much more competitively priced too..

    My mum knits blankets for the Sue Ryder shop on Park Road in Bingley. Seems about as relevant.

    Rubber_Buccaneer
    Full Member

    My mum knits blankets for the Sue Ryder shop on Park Road in Bingley. Seems about as relevant.

    If she knitted gilets it would be. Or are her blankets ‘adventure’ blankets with a hole in and sold at a premium price?

    matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    I’ve just had a little Google.

    Yes you can get Merino or wool fashion gilet’s for less.

    But most other outdoory/performance/made in UK are the same price, or more.

    The only oddity is somewhere like GroundEffect who sell similar products (made in NZ, high quality, ethical etc) will sell you a merino jersey posted to UK for less.

    Ben
    Full Member

    My mum knits blankets for the Sue Ryder shop on Park Road in Bingley. Seems about as relevant.

    Well, that’s me told then eh? So polite too.

    However, on an article about a cycling specific gilet, a comment about another cycling specific gilet doesn’t seem too out of place. Does it?

    For clarity, this is the background to the Cotic gilet (as written by Cy), which makes it something more than a bit of stitching by some old duffer, making it extremely relevant as I see it:

    Dad ran a success waterproof clothing manufacturing business and brand throughout my childhood. It’s where I had my first Saturday job, laying material and putting press studs in pockets. He ran the company, designed the products, got involved in production. I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, eh? He’s a dab hand with pattern making and the sewing machine, and knows loads about waterproof materials and garment design.

    After enjoying doing the framebags, he wanted to do something more and set about developing this gilet. I’ve helped out with testing some of the early versions, advising on tweaks to cut and features. Here’s what David has to say about the product:

    Waterproof, breathable cycle gilets. Made by us, Ridgecrest Clothing, in Bedford, UK.

    Material is PU coated polyester to EN343 Grade 3, the highest level of breathability for a waterproof material.

    The front is cut away to prevent bunching and the back tapers down from the hips for good lower back coverage on the bike.

    Collar is lined with two layers of 100% cotton for maximum absorption, and close cut fit keeps the wind out.

    Knitted, rather than woven, elastic gives a greater stretch around the waist and arms.

    Zips are maroon YKK nylon with a large inner storm flap to prevent water ingress. All seams are top-stitched in matching maroon thread.”

    I’ve bought one anyway. Seems like good value for money. Perhaps STW could review it too?

    Nobeerinthefridge
    Free Member

    Any chance of a link @funkrodent? Ta.

    Ben
    Full Member

    No worries, it’s on ebay.

    https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Cycle-gilet-waterproof-breathable-made-in-England-Various-colours-and-sizes-/203708916331?mkcid=16&mkevt=1&_trksid=p2349624.m46890.l49286&mkrid=710-127635-2958-0

    Can’t vouch for it as only ordered it yesterday. But at £45 posted – and given Cy’s chops generally and his dad’s in terms of this kind of thing – I figure it’s worth a punt.

    I’ll report back once I’ve got it, assuming that’s okay with Brant 😏

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