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Castelli Superleggera vest review

23 Jan 2018

Light by name, light by nature, this gilet has become a staple of my cycling wardrobe

Cyclist Rating: 
Lightweight, surprisingly warm, easy to pack in a jersey pocket
A pocket would be a good addition

I often consider the packable gilet the most underrated of all cycling clothing. The simple, sleeveless layer really can get you out of a lot of bother. Long Alpine descent, chuck on the gilet. You come unstuck in some April showers, reach for the vest. You need to ride home after riding the local 10 mile time trial, add that extra layer.

With this in mind, it makes sense to reach into your pockets and consider spending good money on this thin lifesaver.

For £80 you can get the Castelli Superleggera gilet, which is reasonable considering the wear you can get out of it.

Buy the Castelli Superleggera vest from Wiggle now


Castelli recommends that the Superleggera vest be worn between 16 and 22 celsius, which, realistically rules out most of the year in the UK.

Ignore what Castelli has recommended. I first wore this gilet in September, on a muggy, heavy day riding around London and Essex in which temperatures started off in the low teens and reached the mid-twenties by lunch time.

The last time I wore this gilet was on 20th January. It barely broke five degrees and after a while, the heavens let out a spattering of constant drizzle to play further havoc with my mood.

On both occasions, I found that the Castelli Superleggra did a top job.

It's only thin, but thanks to its windproof nature, it provides a surprinsgly effective insulating layer in January. Slipped on top of a long sleeve baselayer and jersey, I was kept just as warm as I would be with you usual winter jacket yet safe in the knowledge I could shed layers if I needed to.

On the reverse, it is perfect for those long Summer rides that start before the sun comes up and sometimes even stretch to dusk, adding a temporary but inviting layer before the heat begins to bite.

Part of the reason it does an impressive job of keeping me warm is that fact it is windproof. Its Pertex Quantum material stops the wind dead and also helps keep you dry, which in turn guarantees keeping you warm.

Stopping wind is a 12 month job which makes this a 12 month item. When worn appropriately, you are left as weatherproofed in July as you are in January.

As light as an 88g feather

Weight matters when it comes to a garment that you could be carrying more than you wear. Luckily, at 88g for a size XL, you will only be pocketing something that tips the scales at half the burden of your standard smartphone or a wallet filled with notes ready to call the cab when the rain starts to fall. 

Being featherweight, it means it goes unnoticed when neatly folded into the middle pocket of your jersey and because you don't notice it means there is no excuse for leaving at home.

It also helps that the gilet scrunches up into a tiny, neat ball. Honestly, it still amuses me how small I can get it down to.

Its ability to wrap up in to a small form comes from its slim-cutting, no room for excess approach. 

The arm holes are perfectly sized, hugging your shoulder and armpit close, not letting any unwanted elements in. The fit is close, as can be expected from Castelli and leaves little room for hiding but also means no irritable flapping.

On the odd occasion, Castelli can miss the mark when it comes to the design stakes. Overly-large lettering, bright colours and a splattered Italian flag can often have me overlook what is usually high quality kit.

Yet, with the Superleggra, Castelli has made a clean and simple design the order of the day and it works. The rear is a plain grey with the famous scorpion and the letters of the brand towards the bottom and nothing but a simple stripe and some discreet branding. Almost perfect.

Buy the Castelli Superleggera vest from Wiggle now

Castelli has made this such an easy product to use over and over again that I'm finding that it has become indispensable. 

I have used this gilet throughout Winter and I expect I will continue to do so through Spring and Summer and then back around to Autumn. 

My only criticism is that I was left annoyed that not more cycling kit was this useful all year round.


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