Alpkit Morphosis Vest review

A warm and packable gilet for endurance and gravel riding

Alpkit Morphosis Vest
(Image credit: Future)
Cycling Weekly Verdict

Thanks to the gridded fleece lining and highly wind resistant outer layer, Alpkit’s Morphosis Vest offers a warming boost disproportionate to its size. The slim fit is perfect for endurance and gravel riding, yet still manages to be relaxed enough that it doesn’t look out of place away from the bike. It does have its frustrations – most notable being the lack of rear pockets or any way of accessing those of your jersey’s – and the lack of a stowaway pocket does make it more difficult to tuck neatly away. But if those points don’t concern you, then it’s a reasonably priced and effective gilet.

For
  • +

    Highly wind resistant

  • +

    Insulated

  • +

    Water repellent

  • +

    Zipped pockets

Against
  • -

    No stowaway pouch

  • -

    No rear pockets

While some of the best cycling vests are designed to complement an aggressive and aerodynamic riding position, the cut of Alpkit’s Morphosis Vest is best suited to the more upright position of endurance and gravel riding.

Fleece lined and highly wind resistant, the Morphosis Vest brings a warming boost far greater than what its packable size would suggest. With its more relaxed fit, the Morphosis Vest is equally at home off the bike – whether that’s at a post ride pub stop, cooking breakfast after a night’s bivvy, or simply out walking in the hills with the bike left at home (for a change).

The construction: Alpkit Morphosis Vest

Treading the balance between protection from the elements and breathability, Alpkit has decided to stop short of a fully windproof outer layer in favour of a material that performs better at moisture management – though still offering a high degree of protection from the wind.

It’s treated with a PFC-free water repellent, which is more environmentally friendly than those based on fluorochemicals. It’s not waterproof – even if it was, your arms would still get wet – but it’s there to give that added bit of protection from showers and splashes.

Inside, the insulation comes from a lightweight gridded fleece, which is both more lofty and more effective at trapping in warmth, for its bulk and weight, than its ungridded counterparts.

The fit is designed to be slim but with a low front and only slightly dropped tail, it’s still a gilet best suited to endurance and gravel riding more than speed oriented riding and racing. 

There are three pockets, all with zipped closures: two hand ones and another on the chest. There aren’t any pockets at the rear, though, nor any way of accessing the items in your jersey pockets – without completely unzipping the gilet.

The ride

On longer rides, I find there’s generally always a relatively large swing in how warm I’m feeling – whether that’s down to the varying degrees of effort I’m putting in or simply the temperature changing significantly. It’s only really the warmest summer days that I don’t end up bringing some form of extra layer.

So for its size – comfortably fitting inside a jersey pocket (once rolled up) – I’ve been very impressed by quite how much warmth the Morphosis Vest manages to pack in. The fleecy baffles really do the job at collecting your body’s heat, with the wind resistant outer layer preventing it from being whisked away.

I think Alpkit has really struck the right balance between the weather proofing and the breathability. Pulling on the gilet at the crest of a blustery hilltop, I was thankful for just how it shut out the wind – but then rolling straight into another climb after a fast descent, it was great being able to just yank on the zipper and dump a whole load of heat.

Alpkit Morphosis Vest

(Image credit: Future)

I’m not generally one to use rear pockets on a gilet. I tend to whip them on and off too frequently to really bother. But the fact there isn’t any provision for accessing your things while on the bike was quite a frustration. Access ports at the back would have been nice, but even a simple two-way zip would make a significant improvement.

Also, although the gilet does pack down to a reasonably small size, some form of stowaway pocket would have been a great inclusion. In fact, the chest pocket is pretty much the perfect size, it just needs the right kind of zip.

With the low cut front, the Morphosis Vest is best kept to endurance and gravel riding with the more upright positions. Getting low on an aero bike and there’s just too much bunching at the front. That said, the slim overall fit means it doesn’t flap about annoyingly while also not being so tight as to make you feel self conscious when stopped at a pub.

I didn’t test the water resistance any further than just the odd spot of mizzle and road spray, but it shrugged off those well. 

Value

At £69.99 / $84.99, the Morphosis Vest is reasonably good value. It comes in cheaper than the dhb Aeron Polartec Alpha Gilet at £100.00 / $130.00, although that model does have a much more aggressive cut and is more suitable for faster riding. 

Altura’s recently released Icon Rocket Insulated Gilet undercuts the Morphosis at £60.00 and does feature a zipped rear pocket. However, we haven’t yet reviewed that model so can’t comment on how it compares for breathability and fit.

Verdict

Alpkit’s Morphosis Vest offers a warming boost disproportionate to its size, thanks to the gridded fleece lining and highly wind resistant outer layer. Its slim fit works excellently for endurance and gravel riding, while still being relaxed enough that it doesn’t look out of place in non-cycling environments. 

The lack of rear pockets – or any way to access your jersey’s – is a frustration and in not having a stowaway pocket it’s more difficult to tuck away. But if those issues don’t concern you, then it’s a reasonably priced and effective gilet.

Specs

  • Weight: 177g (size small)
  • Sizes: XS – 2XL
  • Colours: Slate
  • Contact: alpkit.com

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Stefan Abram
Stefan Abram

Starting off riding mountain bikes on the South Downs way, he soon made the switch the road cycling. Now, he’s come full circle and is back out on the trails, although the flat bars have been swapped for the curly ones of a gravel bike.


Always looking for the next challenge, he’s Everested in under 12 hours and ridden the South Downs Double in sub 20. Although dabbling in racing off-road, on-road and virtually, to date his only significant achievement has been winning the National Single-Speed Cross-Country Mountain Bike Championships in 2019.


Height: 177cm

Weight: 67–69kg