The Craft Featherlight Vest offers good upper body protection from cool air and it lives up to its name by being ultra-lightweight.
The polyester fabric used for the front panels isn't quite windproof but it is highly wind-resistant, and it does a very good job of keeping cool air off your chest at the start of a morning ride, the end of an evening ride, or at any other time when the temperature drops a few degrees. It's also good for quickly slinging on at the start of a long descent. The same fabric is used across the yoke so the cold doesn't get in even when you're down on the drops and giving it the beans.
The fabric has a durable water repellent (DWR) finish that comes in handy when there's a bit of damp in the air, moisture just beading up rather than soaking through. Of course, by its very nature, a gilet is never going to keep you particularly dry if rain starts hosing down.
A flap behind the YKK front zip stops the wind slinking in there and a zip garage at the top avoids any scratching under your chin. The zip puller is a decent size so it's easy enough to adjust while you're on the go.
The bottom hem and the arm holes are elasticated so they all fit closely and I found the collar to sit close too, stopping unwanted air wafting in but not so tight as to be uncomfortable. The brushed inner face of the collar is comfortable next to your skin if you're wearing a low-necked jersey. It doesn't feel cold like polyester often can.
The back is made from a very lightweight mesh that allows moist air to escape and fresh air to blow in virtually unimpeded. The fact that it's also very stretchy means that this vest will fit a range of different sized riders, and I've found it to work equally well over a thin summer jersey and a thicker winter one. I've experienced very little flapping even when going fast downhill – that can annoy the hell out of me when riding in loose fitting clothing – and the elasticated bottom hem I mentioned keeps the back from gradually riding up as you ride.
Down the bottom you get a small pocket that's designed as a stuff sack for the rest of the vest, although you can also use it for storing a phone or a couple of energy bars. When packed down the vest is about the size of a tennis ball so will fit into the rear pocket of a jersey with plenty of room to spare.
Reflective print and piping add extra visibility both front and rear.
Very lightweight gilet that offers good upper body protection from cool air
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Craft Featherlight vest
Size tested: Black 1903291
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?
Craft lists these features:
* Ultra-lightweight Wind-protective and water-repellent vest
* Wind-protective and water-repellent fabric at front
* Elastic mesh at back for enhanced ventilation and an optimal fit
* 360 degrees reflective details for optimal visibility
* Durable water repellent (DWR) finish
* The vest can be packed into its own back pocket and easily be stowable in jersey pocket
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
As with any durable water repellent (DWR) finish, the effectiveness will gradually diminish and it'll need to be reapplied.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It doesn't shut out cold air completely but it's very close. The rear allows excellent breathability.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The fact that it stows away so small and you get very good breathability at the rear.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I never actually felt the need to pack it down into the integrated stuff sack, preferring to just put it straight into a jersey pocket when not in use.
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?
RRPs for gilets start at around £30. The price here seems reasonable given the fact that it's so lightweight and stowable.
About the tester
Age: 43 Height: 190cm Weight: 75kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.