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Exceptionally light and packable, the Specialized Women's Prime Wind Vest is a well-made, sleek and effective piece of kit, but it does come at quite a high price. I'd have liked some sort of pocket, too.
This ultralight windproof gilet is designed to provide good protection with minimal weight and bulk. It's made from a light and stretchy fabric, with a windproof full front panel, and mesh at the rear of the shoulders. The stretch nylon fabric is soft and pleasant to the touch, and although ultra-light, doesn't feel fragile.
An elasticated hem with silicone grippers that runs around the rear and sides of the gilet (not the front) keeps it in place well, and the two-way front zip is really handy. The softly lined collar adds to the comfort too.
Specialized's online sizing chart is accurate and detailed, meaning that it sized up as expected, with the XL being a good fit on me as a high street UK14-16, and a good length in the body for my average height (5ft 5in). The cut is sleek and performance orientated, with quite deeply indented elasticated armholes to ensure no excess fabric getting in the way when in an aero position, as well as providing a neat windproofing effect.
There's no real water repellency to the fabric, but it did a decent enough job of keeping off a light shower that blew through on one of my rides.
What it does excel at is breathability. The fabric is breathable in its own right, but coupled with the cut, the mesh panels and the ability to unfasten the zip at either end, I had no issues with overheating or sweatiness, despite it giving good protection from the wind.
The front zip operates really smoothly and easily, even single-handed, and unzipping from the bottom does enable you to access your rear jersey pocket underneath – if you're confident enough. Personally, I'd have preferred some sort of pocket in the gilet, either a small, zipped chest pocket or one at the rear, but it's not alone in being pocketless.
Because it's extremely light and compact it pops easily into a rear jersey pocket or bar/saddle bag.
Price-wise, it's definitely at the premium end of the market, with the majority of rivals of a similar weight/bulk being less expensive. The Gore Ambient, for example, is only £89.99 at rrp, and the men's version we tested was a bit lighter too, while Rapha's Women's Pro Team Lightweight Gilet is only £95 and a similar weight.
Even a usual premium contender such as Castelli has the Aria Women's Vest at £95.
You can go significantly cheaper, too, and not far off in the low weight stakes, with the dhb Aeron Packable Gilet at £50, Fat Lad At The Back's Women's Windy Gilet at £54.99 and the Bontrager Women's Circuit Vest £49.99.
That said, the Specialized is a genuinely good piece of kit; it fits well, is made from a high-quality lovely fabric with a smooth zip, and it rolls down to next to nothing to pop into a jersey pocket. If you like the style and you can afford it, it'll serve you well.
Well made, good looking and performs superbly, but at a pretty high price
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Specialized Women's Prime Wind Vest
Size tested: XL
Tell us what the product is for
Specialized says: "The perfect apparel for the perfect ride, that's what our Prime Series is all about. The best fabrics, constructions, and technologies go into these pieces, and the Women's Prime Wind Vest is no exception.
A fully windproof front fabric is paired with partial elastic at the waist and shoulders and a breathable mesh on the back to keep the chill off of your chest without overheating. Further, a VISLON® zipper that's super easy to zip and unzip for hot climbs and cool descents.
Finally, we've made the Prime Wind Vest as lightweight and packable as possible, ensuring it easily stows in a jersey pocket with room to spare."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
From the label:
Main fabric 100% nylon
Other fabric 90% polyester/10% elastane
Mesh panels at shoulders
Two-way VISLON full-length front zipper
Elasticated hem areas with silicone grippers
Soft lined collar
Available in sizes XS-XL
Machine washable at 30
From the website:
Lightweight fabric and minimal construction allows the vest to be easily packed away.
Full-length front zipper to manage ventilation easily.
Partial elastic at the waist and shoulders seal out the cold.
Fabric Content: MAIN: 100% Woven Nylon - OTHER: 90% Polyester, 10% Elastane
Really well made and lovely quality fabric and hardware.
Exceptionally good at keeping wind chill off without being heavy or bulky, and with no concern for overheating or sweating.
All good so far, but early days; the main fabric is surprisingly tough for its low weight, but the mesh panel at the shoulders is a bit more fragile and prone to catching on Velcro or sharp edges.
Neat and sleek, with stretch fabric and elasticated panels allowing for a good fit.
Sized up as per the sizing chart on the website.
Amongst the lightest and most packable available.
Very comfortable. Smooth and soft collar, great fit, soft fabric and exceptional wind protection with no sweatiness.
It's looking expensive when compared with similar products, but it is very well made and performs superbly.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Washed very well and dried super fast. Easy to look after.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
A superb piece of kit, beautifully designed and nicely finished.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Style, fit, comfort, low weight and low bulk but still very effective; I particularly like the soft collar.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The price, and the lack of any pockets, although then it wouldn't have been as minimalist and sleek...
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The majority of rivals of a similar weight/bulk are less expensive. For example, the women's Gore Ambient is only £89.99 (and the men's we tested was lighter), Rapha's Pro Team Lightweight Gilet is a similar weight and only £95, and even a usual premium contender such as Castelli has the Aria W Vest at £95. Significantly cheaper, and not far off in the low weight stakes, are the dhb Aeron Packable Gilet at £50, Fat Lad At The Back's Women's Windy Gilet at £54.99 and the Bontrager Women's Circuit Vest at £49.99.
Did you enjoy using the product? Very much.
Would you consider buying the product? If it was in a sale.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
This is a really well made and nice looking gilet that does a fantastic job of taking the chill off without adding any unnecessary weight or bulk to a ride. It is undeniably expensive, though; if it wasn't for that, it'd be a 9.
About the tester
I usually ride: Liv Invite My best bike is: Specialized Ruby Elite
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.