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Cafe du Cycliste Petra gilet review

11 Apr 2022

Super-light and very packable, but the Petra jacket might be a more savvy purchase

Cyclist Rating: 
Good wind protection without too much warmth • Easy pocket access • Highly packable

I’ve been using the Cafe du Cycliste Petra gilet extensively on milder autumn days. It’s been a great piece to add a bit of warmth when starting out, which I’ve usually shed after half an hour or so, although I’ve sometimes needed to put it back on later in a ride, when the weather has taken a turn for the worse.

The Cafe du Cycliste Petra gilet is a very well thought out piece and one of the best gilets I’ve tested. The front panels are made of lightweight windproof nylon.

Cafe du Cycliste Petra gilet: Design and specs

They’re long enough to protect right down to the base of the torso and the fit is close enough that there’s no windflow into the bottom of the gilet. They also stretch right up over the shoulders.

It’s enough to add a significant amount of warmth and protection from wind chill, while the collar is high and close-fitting, which also stops chills at the top.

Full protection is just confined to the front panels and the tail though. The upper back and the side panels are made of a fine mesh that feels tough and unlikely to rip, but is airy enough to keep those areas comfortable even when you do warm up, while the long tail stays put well around the bottom and doesn’t ruck up, even with repeated standing and sitting in the saddle.

Cafe du Cycliste Petra gilet: Performance

There’s no stretch in the front panels. But the rear mesh is highly stretchy, which means that there’s a close fit without any feeling of tightness.

Once I have warmed up, taking off the Cafe du Cycliste Petra gilet and packing it away isn’t a problem. At 64 grams, it’s very light and it squeezes down into half a pocket, so it takes up negligible space.

Often, wearing a gilet means getting to the contents of your pockets is a faff, requiring you to pull up the hem or unzip. But the Cafe du Cycliste Petra gilet has a slit well positioned mid-back.

It lets you access your pockets easily, but both the top of the nylon fabric and the bottom of the mesh back section are elasticated and there’s an overlap between them, so there’s no gap across your lower back when riding.

Windflap is often a significant issue with super-light gilets, particularly around the armholes when riding at speed.

But Cafe du Cycliste has done a very good job with the Petra gilet, with elastic around the arm openings and a fit that’s close enough that I only experienced windflap when I had the front zip opened quite far down.

Like much of Cafe du Cycliste’s clothing, the Petra gilet is priced towards the premium end of the market, on a par with Rapha.

You can pay a lot more for a gilet, but these are usually insulated and more water-resistant than the water repellent front and shoulder panels of the Petra and designed for all-day riding rather than packability.

The Cafe du Cycliste Petra gilet does a great job of keeping your core warm, but leaves your arms to fend for themselves.

Cafe du Cycliste Petra gilet: Verdict

If you’re looking to spend this much on a lightweight, packable windproof, it might be worthwhile spending the extra to upgrade to the Petra jacket.

At £137, this has the same design for the core, with a mesh upper back, and similar packability but adds sleeves for extra wind protection.

Products reviewed by Cyclist are independently selected and tested by our editorial team. Cyclist may earn an affiliate commission if you make a purchase through a retailer link. Read our reviews policy.


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