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review

Cafe Du Cycliste Women's Albertine thermal gilet

8
£176.00

VERDICT:

8
10
Snug, close fitting and extremely cosy, but not packable – and the price is huge
Warm
Incredibly stylish
Spacious, secure pockets
Snug slim fit
Expensive
Bulky padded front
Weight: 
248g

Café du Cycliste's Women's Albertine thermal gilet is a thickly padded layer that absolutely keeps your core snugly warm, and provides excellent windblocking on descents. It also looks pretty smart with its two tone front and stitched logo patch – but given the very high price, you might well demand that.

This is not the sort of gilet that can be squeezed into your back pocket. With its bulkiness compared even to other thermal gilets, either you commit to wearing it all day or you bring a bikepacking bag to stash it in.

> Buy this online here

The front boasts a synthetic down-padded layer Café du Cycliste says gives 'highly effective insulation coupled with extreme breathability'. Down is far warmer for its weight than anything else, but genuine down (feather) gets destroyed by water.

2021 Cafe Du Cycliste Women's Cycling Gillet Albertine Green Aqua - zip base.jpg

By using synthetic down, the Albertine enjoys great thermal properties and can stand up to the weather.

2021 Cafe Du Cycliste Women's Cycling Gillet Albertine Green Aqua - back pocket.jpg

The back is merino polar fleece with a decent stretch, and it's incredibly comfortable to wear. Combined, these fabrics successfully defend against wind and trap body warmth – but not unpleasantly so, thanks its breathable qualities.

I found pairing this gilet with a short-sleeve base layer and long sleeve jersey kept me happy from 10° all the way down to zero.

2021 Cafe Du Cycliste Women's Cycling Gillet Albertine Green Aqua - shoulder back.jpg

It can definitely manage below freezing, too, as I wasn't even starting to get cold at zero.

2021 Cafe Du Cycliste Women's Cycling Gillet Albertine Green Aqua - hem.jpg

Its two-way YKK zip is smooth and easy to adjust while riding, which definitely contributes to comfort. It also means you can access your jersey pockets without having to unzip the gilet fully.

Sizing

Size wise, I'm usually a 32C and wear Café du Cycliste's very own Rosalie bra in a size small. I tested a size small in this gilet, and its slim fit could not be better. It hugs your figure without being tight, and there's no excess material flapping in the wind.

2021 Cafe Du Cycliste Women's Cycling Gillet Albertine Green Aqua - shoulder detail.jpg

Lining the collar is a super-soft fabric that gives the gilet a cosy feel. It rises up the neck enough to keep the chill off, but without being annoyingly high.

2021 Cafe Du Cycliste Women's Cycling Gillet Albertine Green Aqua - pockets.jpg

The dropped rear is not excessive either, but provides a touch of extra protection from road spray. I also had no issues with it riding up, thanks to the Café du Cycliste-text grippers which wrap around the hem.

2021 Cafe Du Cycliste Women's Cycling Gillet Albertine Green Aqua - chest pocket.jpg

Styling up the front is a chest pocket with a popper button. It is large enough to take a fairly big phone (mine is 15.5cm x 7.5.cm), but the button is quite impractical – it takes effort and patience to align the two parts, which isn't great on the go, especially with one hand.

> The best winter cycling gear - 13 products to see you through the colder months

At least this fashion-style chest pocket is of no real concern, as at the back you find two incredibly spacious pockets – one with a side-zipped essentials holder. Attached to the zip is a useful 6.5cm fabric tag that's quick and easy to grab.

There is a reflective strip at the bottom of the pockets, but it only extends halfway across each and is barely noticeable – it really needs to be bigger.

Value

At £176, this is pretty much expensive as it gets. Rapha's Pro Team Insulated Gilet is 'only' £140 and handles temperatures almost as low, yet packs down smaller. Meanwhile, Galibier's Izoard Quilted Gilet is incredibly good value at £48.25. It is warm and comfortable, if not the most breathable.

The times when this Albertine gilet is perfect are limited, but during those times its fit, quality and performance are faultless. I couldn't be happier when chasing miles in the winter with this on – it's so comfortable and looks great. It's a shame it's not small enough for a jersey pocket, though – and it's really going to cost you.

Verdict

Snug, close fitting and extremely cosy, but not packable – and the price is huge

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Cafe Du Cycliste Women's Albertine thermal gilet

Size tested: Small/Medium

Tell us what the product is for

Café du cycliste says:

"A women's synthetic down cycling vest to provide highly effective insulation coupled with extreme breathability. Air pockets trap body heat to provide warmth in cold conditions but the insulation is stable enough to be paired with a breathable shell and liner fabric to allow excess heat and moisture vapour to rapidly escape during periods of intense effort."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Café du cycliste lists:

Breathable padded cycling gilet

Breathable insulation

Mountain inspired styling

Fully windproof

Two cargo pockets

Zipped Pocket

Merino fleece back

Excellent thermoregulation

Reflective strip

Classic fit

Made in Europe

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10

Feels very well made.

Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10

Delivers on breathability and windproofness, as well as being very comfortable.

Rate the product for durability:
 
9/10
Rate the product for fit:
 
9/10
Rate the product for sizing:
 
9/10
Rate the product for weight:
 
6/10

At 248g it's heavy for a thermal gilet, but it does provide a significant amount of warmth.

Rate the product for comfort:
 
9/10

Really snuggly.

Rate the product for value:
 
3/10

Very expensive.

How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?

Can be machine washed at 30, but can't be tumble dryed.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

A great defence against the wind and keeps my centre warm, but with no problems of overheating.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The slim fit, breathability, spacious back pockets, comforting warmth and the finished look.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Price and front chest pocket.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

It's even more expensive than Rapha's Pro Team Insulated Gilet, which comes in at £140. There are also much cheaper options, including Galibier's Izoard Quilted Gilet at £48.25.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes, if on a slight discount

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

This gilet is a joy to wear. It keeps you snugly warm by hugging your body with its slim fit, and delivers on blocking the wind. It's bulky, which makes it a little impractical in many circumstances, but it's not trying to be packable. So that really only leaves the high price to complain about.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 23  Height: 177cm  Weight: 63kg

I usually ride: Road bike  My best bike is:

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: road racing, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, Gravel riding, indoor turbo and rollers, track

Anna has been hooked on bikes ever since her youthful beginnings at Hillingdon Cycle Circuit. As an avid road and track racer, she reached the heady heights of a ProCyclingStats profile before leaving for university. Having now completed an MA in Multimedia Journalism, she’s hoping to add some (more successful) results. Although her greatest wish is for the broader acceptance of wearing funky cycling socks over the top of leg warmers.

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