We've tested the Chapeau! Red Echelon gilet through some seriously cold conditions, but how does it hold up?
Chapeau! was founded on the basis of creating kit that isn’t necessarily the cheapest, but will always offer the best value for money. So, with the Red Echelon gilet costing £109, does this hold up? For the most part it’s a gilet that fits really well. However, while it has a slim fit I did find it a little baggy in the chest area when in the hunched cycling position.
Likewise, the arm holes didn’t fit as tightly as I’d have liked, meaning in windy weather the gilet could balloon a bit out the back.
Happily though, the fit around the waist was excellent. It was neither baggy, nor too short and over the duration of rides it never bunched or pulled up the body.
In terms of technical performance, the Red Echelon Gilet is excellent – particularly how warm it is.
Over the last two months it has pulled its weight on multiple sub-zero rides. So much so that it has become my go-to final layer, always being thrown on before I leave the front door.
That said, it could be more breathable. While the arm holes were an exit point for perspiration I did often find that the jacket underneath was damp at the end of rides.
I haven’t been in the habit of removing layers over the last two months, but on the odd occasion that I did, Chapeau!’s gilet packed down to a neat size.
Watch: Buyer’s guide to waterproof jackets
Although perhaps not as packable as a dedicated lightweight jacket or gilet might be, it fits in jersey pockets fine as long as they’re not overly stuffed already.
More practically, the Red Echelon gilet comes with two zipped pockets – useful for those quick access items.
A larger one on the side held my keys fine, while the one on the chest was useful for a mobile phone and debit card or a multi-tool.
Ultimately, this is an expensive piece of clothing, but it has pulled its weight with impressive performance on some seriously cold rides - it just needs a slight tweak in fit and it'll be a perfect gilet for the cold months.