The windproof and lightweight Sportful Cometa Wind Vest 'just-in-case' piece of apparel more than lives up to expectations
If there was one piece of under-rated cycling apparel, I’d say hands down it was the gilet. While the waistcoat of the cycling world may initially seem like a ‘nice to have’, I’d say, without a doubt, that it is in fact a ‘must have’ and has, as a positive consequence earned its own special place in my jersey rear pocket set up.
Over the years favourite gilets have earned their ‘go-to’ credentials, with the Sportful Cometa Wind Vest possibly becoming my latest piece of essential riding kit for single handily getting me home without hyperthermia, proving its wind cheating capabilities.
The Sportful Cometa Wind Vest is constructed in two parts, a wind defending front and shoulders, with a lightweight nylon mesh back. This double act aims to keep the areas that are exposed to wind protected, while affording the rest of the body maximum breathability.
This method of providing zoned wind proofing, also enables the gilet to keep to a minimal weight of 126 grams, and allows it to be scrunched down to just bigger than my (small) hand. It’s bigger and heavier than the, now somewhat dated, Castelli Velo Vest, and is more on par in weight and size with the Mavic Vision H2O Vest, meaning it sits better in the early spring over spring/ summer camp.
The women’s specific fit has been tailored accordingly, and a includes a silicone waist gripper to secure the Sportful Cometa Wind Vest in place.
Technically I rolled out with the Cometa Wind Vest a season too early. A self build house project, small child and constantly finding more month left than that of money, means the days of swanning off to a warmer climate training camp are in either the distant past or future, so for now, it’s a case of knuckling down and getting out in to northern hills when minimal snow and ice allow.
So I set off in my LeCol HC Jacket with the Sportful Cometa Wind Vest in tow, scrunched in to the rear pocket. I’ve long since lost the capability of maintaining a fully functioning saddle bag, so this means the vest sits along side two inner tubes, pump, multitool, leavers, riding snacks and my phone – all in a size extra small jacket, which should give you a good inclination as to the gilet’s overall size.
Despite the small package of the Sportful Cometa Wind Vest, the design team has successfully managed to incorporate three rear pockets. This is incredibly useful on the move, allowing the decamping of ride nutrition to the outer pockets, making the annoyance at clothing layer navigating to find ride snacks, which is especially frustrating with gloves on (and usually involves a riding buddy to assist tucking you all back in), a thing of the past.
The only trick Sportful has missed here at the back is to introduce a bit more reflective detail than just the small logo.
While I thought I’d chosen a relatively mild winter’s day, the thermometer was sitting at around 8 degrees when I set out, I had completely failed to take account of the bitter north-easterly wind. This promptly hit me as soon as I gained a few of hundred meters in elevation around an area in the Peak District know as the Brick Works.
I was riding a cross bike parallel to the infamous road climb on a bridal way. I say riding in the looses sense as the hill rears up so steeply a points, that there was an element of hike-a-bike at times.
It was upon resting from dragging the cross bike up the latest shear wall, that on turning round to admire the view which stretches out across the Cheshire Plains to Wales, Manchester city and then hills beyond, that the wind chill got me.
Not one to miss an opportunity to ride gloat on social media, I proceeded to get the phone out, remove gloves and snap a few Instagram bangers. But as is fickle nature of virtual reality worlds, capturing my photo for likes and hearts, negated to capture that my body core temperature had promptly dropped what felt like 10 degrees and I was instantly shivering.
Battling the wind, I pulled out the Sportful Cometa Wind Vest and quickly dressed in it, expecting little more than a placebo warmth effect from such a skimpy addition to winter attire.
How wrong my assumption was. The warming effect was immediate. The gilet had rapidly shut down any small gaps in seams of the jacket, keeping the cold wind out of my core body, which at once had a positive effect.
Any thoughts on it being just the wind dying down were also put to bed when upon summiting the hill, known as Bowstones for anyone interested, I promptly did a Geraint Thomas and found myself blown off the bike and in to a ditch.
Wearing the Sportful Cometa Wind Vest made the descent back home, though Lyme Park, much more palatable, with the wind now totally blocked off my chest and shoulders.
I wouldn’t say I was toasty warm by any means, but it certainly meant the difference of tolerable ride home over windchill induced hypothermia.
It’s not often that the marketing teams of brands let the designers down, but I really feel that the Sportful Cometa Wind Vest has sold itself short by badging it as a ‘just-in-case’ garment. It’s positively life saving! Ok, so that’s slightly extreme, but for the £80 price tag, its more than worth it.
The Sportful Cometa Wind Vest blocks even the coldest of winds despite its demure appearances. Pratical, low weight and easy to pack in to even the fullest of back pockets, once purchased, you'll never leave home without it.