With its black shiny finish and simplistic looks, the Shimano Compact Wind Vest could be mistaken for a glorified bin bag but it is much, much better than that. Keeping you warm where you need it and cool where you don't, it does everything you'd want of a good gilet.
Heading out for a ride into a chilly northerly, you soon notice how effective the Vest is. I could feel the wind on my arms, hands and legs, even though they were all covered, but the front of my torso was warm; no, make that toasty. There was a really noticeable difference between the areas covered by that polyester windproof panel and those not.
The windproofing covers your front and reaches right up and over your shoulders. The mid-section of the rear uses a much lighter mesh construction, which means the Wind Vest is very breathable. Even working hard on a climb with a long-sleeve jersey underneath, I never got overwhelmed in perspiration.
The arm holes fit snugly too, and not in an uncomfortable way like I found with the recently tested Condor Professional. This stops any of the breeze whipping in around your armpits.
The Shimano has an all-round better cut than the Condor too – close enough throughout to reduce any flappy material, but in no way restrictive to your movements. You also get a decent length dropped tail to keep you covered when stretched out over the bike.
At the rear there's a zipped pocket big enough to hold a phone and some energy gels or other ride essentials, which is handy as you don't have access to your main jersey pockets really unless you stop.
Weight is key with a gilet like this, and at 95g the Shimano is heavier than the exceptionally light 78g Condor – not that you'd be able to tell in the real world. Stuff it in your jersey pocket and you aren't going to notice it at all, plus it folds down to a very small package size.
The full-length zip has a large material tab on it, which makes for easy adjustment even with gloves on, plus it helps if you want to put on or remove the gilet while riding.
A claim of '360 degree highly visible reflectivity' might make you think the Vest could be exactly what you are after for a bit of night riding, but don't get too excited. At best it's a few token reflective patches; the one on the rear pocket isn't too bad, plus you've got one on each side that might get picked up at a junction, but they aren't exactly screaming. Also, the Shimano logo is the only thing that is reflective around the front, and that'll be pretty invisible once you are riding.
Looking at pricing, the Shimano is more expensive than both the Condor and dhb Aeron Lightweight Windslam, the latter scoring very highly in our review.
The Shimano has a much better fit for me than the Condor, so I would happily splash the extra tenner on this, but the dhb would just take the top spot thanks to details such as being able to access your jersey pockets through openings in the side.
However, the overall quality and finish of the Shimano is top notch, and if you did pay the little extra you wouldn't be disappointed.
Impressive windproofing from such a lightweight gilet at a competitive price
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Shimano Men's Compact Wind Vest
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Shimano says: "Our smallest and lightest protection package. This go-to vest protects your core in cool weather as well as from wind and water."
It does fold up impressively small.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
From the Madison website:
Windproof and water resistant fabric
Packable into jersey pocket
Elastic silicon gripper on back to keep the vets in place
360 degree highly visible reflectivity
Fabrics: 100% polyester
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Thirty-degree cycle in the machine sees everything come up clean and tidy.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
As a windproof you can't knock it really.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Claim of '360 degree highly visible reflectivity' is stretching it a bit...
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
The Shimano gilet is a decent quality bit of kit with excellent windproofing, without causing overheating.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: Kinesis Aithein
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.