The Isadore Women's Merino Membrane Softshell Vest is a great-looking, well-made gilet designed to protect you from the wind and rain. Using merino wool fibres on the inside and a windproof and waterproof membrane on the outside, it can take on the chilly autumn weather and keep you riding in style.
- Pros: Waterproof, windproof and thermal
- Cons: Front zipper is fiddly to use and has no locking mechanism, lacks versatility of lighter gilets
Isadore says it has designed the vest for cool spring riding and training in cold temperatures. It is constructed of what Isadore calls the 'finest' merino wool fibres on the inside, with a waterproof and windproof membrane to keep out wind and rain. This has a claimed DWR rating of 10,000mm and breathability of 10,000g/m2/24h. Being a natural fibre, the merino wool regulates temperature without getting smelly.
The fit of the Isadore vest is great: figure hugging so no flapping about in the wind. I'm usually a medium and it was just right. The cut is slim, with ThermoRoubaix fabric on the sides.
It's heavy at 286g compared with, for example, Rapha's men's Pro Team Insulated Gilet which weighs 145g, and the Women's Souplesse Insulated Jacket is 212g, with arms. The Isadore is not a gilet to squash in a back pocket when you get warm; it's too bulky for that.
It has a full-length bright yellow AquaGuard Vision zip, with a zip garage at the top. When fully zipped up, the soft-brushed fleece-lined collar sits nicely on the neck. The zip has a popper, two inches from the top, which lets you unzip and vent without having your chest completely exposed. On one ride when I need some ventilation, I unzipped 3/4 of the way down but without the popper done up, and the zip continued to open slowly by itself. The zipper is tricky to handle in thick gloves; it needs a pull loop for easier use.
At the back there are two pockets. One has a waterproof zip and is quite roomy, with little compartment sleeves, one of which fits a phone nicely. The other is an open pocket, about the same size as you would find on the back of a jersey.
The shoulders have soft-brushed fabric panels which add reinforcement. If used for commuting, these panels would help pad out a bag strap and prevent wear.
Other clever features include a drop-down tail which can be very neatly folded up and fastened to the inside with poppers when not in use.
There are also reflective details on the shoulder, around the rear pockets and tail flap, and the main zipper.
On the single digit temperature days that we've had recently, I wore the gilet over a Roubaix Long Sleeve mid-weight jersey and it kept my trunk lovely and warm, the merino working well with the windproof membrane to keep things cosy and chills out.
A gilet is never going to keep you completely dry, but I found that water beaded off the Isadore vest in a light shower, keeping my trunk dry. I would happily wear it in light showers knowing that my core would stay warm and dry.
At £160, the vest is pretty expensive – it's the same price as the Rapha Insulated Jacket, mentioned above, and you get sleeves with that! It's £20 more than the Rapha Souplesse Insulated Gilet, which has DWR proofing as well as being insulated (and is packable). Or you could spend less on the Aussie Grit Flint Women's Thermal Gilet at £95 for a thermal gilet, albeit with no waterproofing.
Aside from cost, the only other real drawback with the Isadore vest is that you can't stuff it in a pocket. I would have to think carefully about how much use I would get from it; for the price, my money would probably go on a jacket.
A stylish thermal gilet that keeps out wind and rain, but it's expensive and you can't stuff it in a back pocket
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Isadore Women's Merino Membrane gilet
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Isadore says: "The Women's Merino Membrane Vest is designed and constructed for movement with a sleek female look and highest comfort. This is a thermal Merino vest designed for women who need a bit of protection from the wind and rain."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Finest Merino wool fibers on the inside (30% Merino / 65% Polyestere / 5% PU Membrane) - to protect you against wind and rain.
Water and windproof membrane on the outside keeps wind and water out /DWR 10,000mm), yet it is highly breathable (10,000g/m2/24h).
YKK AquaGuard Vision front and back pocket zip, 100% waterproof.
Waterproof small back zipper to keep the valuables inside the pocket safe.
Slim fit Womens cut with ThermoRoubaix® (85% Polyamid / 15% Elastane) side panels treated with DuPont (tm) Teflon® Fabric Protector to enhance the ability of the fabric to repel water.
Optional lower back extension.
Soft brushed lining inside the collar.
Reflective signs and logos added to enhance visibility.
Really well made.
Does a great job of keeping you warm in chilly weather and keeping light rain off.
After a month of testing it looks as good as new.
I normally wear a medium and it fitted nicely.
This is not designed to be a gilet you can get in a back pocket.
Very comfortable to wear.
It's expensive, and costs £20 more than Rapha's Souplesse Insulated Gilet.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
I washed it at 30 degrees and had no problems.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Does a great job of keeping you warm in chilly weather and keeping light rain off you.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The merino wool fibres.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Lacks the versatility of a vest you can put in your back pocket if you get warm.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's £20 more than the Rapha Souplesse Insulated Gilet (£140), which is insulated and DWR proofed. Other options – with or without thermal or DWR properties, cost less – for example, the Aussie Grit Flint Women's Thermal Gilet at £95, a thermal vest but with no waterproofing.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Maybe
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Possibly
Use this box to explain your overall score
I'm scoring the Isadore Vest 7 because overall it is a great vest, and does what it's meant to very well, but it is expensive and isn't as versatile as packable options. I would have to think carefully how much use I would get from it. If you what an extra thermal layer for your core, with windproofing and water repellency, it's a great option.
About the tester
I usually ride: Genesis Croix de Fer Ti My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking