I for one am glad the weather is taking a chilly turn as it means I can wear the Vulpine Ultralight Quilted Thermal Gilet every day for pretty much, well, everything. It's great off the bike and even better on it thanks to a great fit and such a versatile temperature range.
The Ultralight may look just like a standard bodywarmer but there are some subtle cues to link it to the bike. A dropped tail for instance, just enough to cover your lower back when reaching for the bars without looking odd when out of the saddle. You also get a different material for the shoulders to resist wear and tear from a rucksack on the daily commute and there is the small open pocket at the rear, big enough to get a couple of fingers in to pull out your phone or food while riding. All neat little tweaks that the cyclist will see though no one else will.
The cut is well thought out too. It's kind of fitted, being close enough on the bike that the material never starts flapping about even when you are shifting on at fair old pace but yet it's not restrictive either. The arm holes are big enough to give you full flexibility without letting in any draughts while the close fitting high neck offers the same qualities.
It's the warmth that stands out though; you always feel like you are at the right temperature. Vulpine have chosen Primaloft's top end Gold synthetic insulation which according to their (Primaloft's) technical blurb mimics natural down. It's claimed to be lightweight, compressible, breathable and highly efficient at trapping body heat, all features that the Gilet displays so I've no reason to doubt Primaloft.
Vulpine suggest a temperature usage of 4°C to 14°C and I'll second that. A clear night can be cold down here in the countryside even in May or September, so the Ultralight has seen some frosty morning commutes and some warm evening ones. Unless you are really smashing it the gilet rarely gets overwhelmed. Even if it does a drop of the zip and back off the pace will see you and it dry quickly.
That ability to dry is great should you get caught out in the rain at all. The outer fabric is water resistant as is the insulation according to Primaloft so the likes of light drizzle and a quick shower can be shrugged off but more prolonged or heavier rain will work its way through. You stay warm though even if wet.
The quality is to a very high standard. No loose threads or untidy stitching and the main zip plus those on the front pockets run smoothly without catching on any lining. The inside of the gilet is soft and feels nice against the skin.
Pricing is always a contentious issue, while some will baulk at paying a pound shy of one hundred and twenty quid for a gilet others will see it as an investment. I'm in the latter camp. The amount of wear I've got out of it so far on and off the bike means it would have already cost me less than 20p a minute in the first month. Back that up with the performance and pleasure I've had out of it and I reckon it's a winner.
Size wise the chart on Vulpine's website is spot on for me with my chest size coming in at the top end of the small one, there was still plenty of room for me to move around in it whether on the bike or off of it with a jersey and baselayer underneath. The gilet comes in XS – XXL or 35in to 48in and two colour options, Petrol blue and my personal favourite the Dutch Orange.
In conclusion the Ultralight Thermal Gilet is brilliant. It's cycling specific enough to work on the bike while working in the everyday world too. The insulation is spot on, the lightweight barrier to a cold breeze is instant and you feel snug as soon as you put it on. Even if the sun comes out you don't really feel yourself getting any warmer providing it's within the temperature range Vulpine recommends. The overall quality and performance easily justifies the price too.
A masterclass in how to make cycling kit work on and off the bike; high quality, super toasty yet breathable
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Vulpine Ultralight Quilted Thermal Gilet
Size tested: Mens ultralight quilted thermal gillet, Small, Classic Navy,
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?
Vulpine say "A quick-drying, breathable and water resistant lightweight thermal solution for cool days.
Perfect for touring, commuting or relaxing despite the wind, drizzle and grey, on or off the saddle.
Suggested temperature range 4°C - 14°C.
I think it delivers on all of these fronts.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
*Primaloft Gold (highest quality) grade fill
*Water resistant against light rain, drizzle and road spray
*Front zip hand pockets
*Front zip internal chest pocket
*Rear open smartphone/food pocket
*Tough shoulder panel for use with backpack
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Excellent at doing what it is designed for.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The versatility of it.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing I'd say I really dislike.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Use this box to explain your score
I really like the Vulpine Gilet, the way it works on the bike as well as off of it in terms of performance and looks. In fact I had more comments about how nice it looked from non cyclists than I did cyclists. The material choices are excellent, they all come together to deliver an overall product that does exactly what it says on the tin.
About the tester
Age: 37 Height: 180cm Weight: 76kg
I usually ride: Kinesis T2 My best bike is: Mason Definition
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.