Home
Verdict: 
The RXL is well made, with some decent features but the zip lets it down given the price
Weight: 
139g

With the recent mild weather jackets have been overkill. There have still been some occasions were you need a little more protection around the chest as you hit cold spots or possibly the odd shower, though.

What you need is a gilet or wind vest like the RXL windshell vest from Bontrager. It offers decent protection from the wind and does a reasonable job of keeping the showers at bay. It is light and can be compacted to tuck into a jersey pocket if required. It doesn't come cheap but it does provide a number of plus points that make it worth consideration.

The RXL Windchill Vest is made from a Profila Wind fabric which is lightweight and stretchy. It also offers protection from the wind and is water-resistant. To prevent over-heating there are vents on the back of the neck on the collar and under the arms where you'd expect them. The idea is give the rider maximum ventilation without sacrificing protection.

To keep the Bontrager Windchill vest done up you have a full length YKK zipper with a draft flap. On the rear of the RXL is a drop tail which is just over 11 cm deep providing extra protection where all the grit and grime get thrown up off the road. The bottom of the vest is kept in place with what Bontrager call a powerband hem.

The hem does a good job of keeping the vest in place. It makes for a snug fit, in keeping with the general fit of the vest and it's form fitting to stop it flapping like a sail. On the rear of the vest on either side and in the middle of the drop tail you have reflective elements designed to give the rider greater visibility to other road users.

The large I tested is designed for a 96-102 cm chest and this was a good fit over a base layer and jersey. To complete matters, the collar is also stretchy with a soft edge to it to prevent irritation.

I used the Bontrager RXL with two layers and arm warmers, an ideal combination. It kept the heat in without getting too warm and with the ventilation you would be hard pushed to get really hot unless the temperature rose significantly.

My only issue with the RXL vest, and the thing that stops it from being a very good piece of kit, is the zip. It can be a tad fiddly if you have gloves on and even without it can take a couple of attempts to get the two sides of it to mesh.

Verdict

The RXL is well made, with some decent features but the zip lets it down given the price

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

road.cc test report

Make and model: Bontrager RXL Windshell Vest

Size tested: Large - Black, Grey

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

The Bontrager RXL Windchill Vest has been designed to offer protection from the wind and showers. It is lightweight and can be packed down and stashed easily. It will keep you protected when you need a bit more warmth on the chest but a jacket would prove to hot or bulky. It will also allow you to get home or to your destination should the showers catch you out.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

The RXL Windchill Vest is made from a Profila Wind fabric which is lightweight and stretchy. It also offers protection from the wind and is water-resistant. To prevent over-heating there are vents on the back of the neck on the collar and under the arms where you'd expect them. The idea is give the rider maximum ventilation without sacrificing protection.

To keep the Bontrager Windchill vest done up you have a full length YKK zipper, re-known for being the best on the market, which when it is done up has a draft flap. On the rear of the RXL is a drop tail which is just over 11 cm deep providing extra protection where all the grit and grime get thrown up off the road. The bottom of the vest is kept in place with what Bontrager term a powerband hem.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10

The RXL Windchill Vest is well made, the seams are well sealed so there is no loose material or stitching. The hem is stretchy and effective and the Profila material used in its construction makes for a very lightweight vest. The zip can prove to be a little fiddly, even without gloves on.

Rate the product for performance:
 
7/10

With ventilation built into the RXL under the arms and on the back of the neck, you are to maintain a good temperature. The wind protection is good even in strong, chilly winds. The only flaw in the make-up is the YKK zip. Generally these are well made but for some reason on the Windchill Vest it proved to be fiddly to use, especially in gloves.

Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

The RXL has been well made and seems robust enough to cope with the usual cycling demands. You can be taking the gilet on or off with some regularity so it needs to be well made but at the same time light enough to offer protection without compromising your comfort.

Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
 
9/10

The Bontrager RXL is both lightweight and easy to compact into a small ball to stash in your pocket should you need to discard it.

Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
 
9/10

Given the lightness of construction you can easily forget your wearing it. It provides a snug fit but still does a decent job of keeping warm and dry.

Rate the product for value:
 
7/10

There are plenty of options that are more expensive but the Bontrager has proven to be good value. Well made, lightweight and does a decent job.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

The gilet is easily one of the better versions I have tested and is certainly up to the job of keeping the wind out courtesy of the profila material used and will keep the water off too.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The fit and performance of the RXL are very good.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

I have a thing with zips and at times the zip on the RXL gets awkward. It can also be even fiddlier with gloves on. The search goes on for a great zip.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.

Would you consider buying the product? Yes.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.

Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?

Lightweight, effective including some reflective safety elements on the rear make this a handy item for any showery ride.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 45  Height: 178cm  Weight: 80kg

I usually ride: Currently riding a Pinnacle Evaporite Three  My best bike is: As above

I've been riding for: Under 5 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, commuting, sportives, mtb, Not yet but looking to dip my toe in the world of TT