We’ve already reviewed Aussie Grit Apparel’s ‘Thermal’ gilet and were suitably impressed. But with temperatures on the rise, the ‘Light’ option sounds ideal protection for springtime snap in the air you’ll get on morning or evening rides.
I took delivery of the Aussie Grit Light Gilet no more than a week ago, arguably a little late in the season to test it to its full potential.
As we hurtle into late spring and early summer, the opportunities for an extended test are diminishing rapidly. Indeed, my fears that the review period would be a case of seeing how well it worked in a series of evening rides, punctuated by the merest vestige of a cool breeze, were very real.
How lucky I was then, to wake up on a spectacularly miserable Saturday morning. Ahead of me lay 80 miles of road ride across rural Suffolk. I poked my nose out of the door, it was cool, wet and blustery.
The forecast suggested it would warm slightly, and the rain would subside, as the morning progressed so I planned to dress accordingly.
Conscious of the promised warmth ahead I opted for a short sleeved (winter) base layer and shirt, with arm warmers. The Aussie Grit gilet provided the outer layer.
This is the first time I have got my hands on any Aussie Grit kit so I was interested to see how it stacked up.
First impressions were good. The gilet was well presented. The seams and stitching were tidy and it had an indefinable feel of quality about it.
Next, the zip and the pockets. Always a high priority on my checklist. There is nothing that lets a gilet, shirt or jacket down more than a poor zip or badly designed pockets.
The (one way) full length zip looked robust enough but I felt the tab was a little small (more of that later). There are two rear pockets, one zipped and one with a safety flap. They are both of a decent size and the zip seemed easy enough to open and shut though those concerns about the tab were there again.
I was interested to see the two huge (perforated) vents on the back. This is a novel approach to ‘venting’ and one I have not come across before.
I was pleased to see that the hem has gripper all the way round. Throughout this ride, it stayed put and the gilet was anchored in place with only minimal riding up at the back.
Although the technical specifications mention that the fabric has “Four Way Stretch”, I must admit to being a little sceptical as I pulled it on. To my surprise, it really does give in all directions without losing shape.
According to the sizing guide, I am right on the cusp of two sizes, Large and Extra Large. At a smidgeon under 6 foot 4 and with a 42 inch chest, I could have elected for either and instinct nudged me towards the larger option. Aussie Grit however, recommended I opt for large, and so I did.
My initial fears were that it was too small. The garment felt very snug when I zipped it up, although I did sense definite ‘give’ in the material. To be honest, with a less technical and ‘supple’ fabric, there could might have been potential for a burst zip. From the attention to detail shown elsewhere on the garment, I have to conclude that this was factored in to the design specifications.
The fit is what you would call a pretty perfect ‘race fit’. There is no excess material. Yes it is snug, but at no time did my breathing feel restricted.
I would thoroughly recommend trying one on before you buy. If you fall ‘between sizes’ consider the smaller size first.
Notwithstanding the dynamic characteristics of the fabric, the cut is fairly ‘athletic’. I’m not sure how it would accommodate the fuller sized gentleman!
Apparently there are reflective highlights on the front, rear and sides. I did not find them all, which suggests they are indeed ‘highlights’.
The garment I tested was in ‘charcoal’. To my eyes it was a mid to dark, subtle, matte grey. A perfect match for my Mason Bokeh!
If you are at all concerned about visibility on the road, this might be a little too muted for you.
The weather forecast was wrong. It got colder and wetter as the morning progressed with only the slightest rise in temperature as I hit the last ten miles of the ride. My extremities were frozen by the time I got home.
This is important. At no stage on the ride, whatever came out of the sky, did my core get cold. I wasn’t hot, but I maintained a decent working temperature throughout. Whatever wind proofing qualities the fabric has, it worked an absolute treat. At the same time, there was no build up of sweat under the layers so I have to assume the fabric’s wicking properties, and those huge heat vents, were working as advertised.
So far, so good. A race fit, supple fabric and water resistance seemingly above the call of duty. But there are a couple of things that could be improved upon.
The tab on the zip is just too small. As it got colder and my fingers stopped functioning properly, I was couldn’t find the tabs let alone use the zips.
A two way zip would have been nice too.
Finally, the pocket with the flap. Even at the start of the ride I couldn’t get into it while riding. The idea is sound but it doesn’t quite work.
The gilet packs up quite small but not as small as I’d like. Expect it to take up most of a rear pocket.
I would expect to wear a garment more times before writing a review. Seeing as how it performed out of its skin in extreme conditions, I think it is fair to record my assessment on limited experience.
I have not been able to test the long term resilience of the fabric, nor the water resistance after repeated washing.
Would I recommend this on the basis of use to date? Absolutely. Had it not performed so well, I am sure I’d be in bed right now throwing a sickie.
Last modified: 2nd May 2018