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The Specialized/Fjällräven Women's Adventure Vest gives good wind protection yet is incredibly light and packable. The relaxed styling and pockets make it a good one for adventure and gravel riding, and the recycled polyester content is a nice sustainable touch too.
Check out our guide to the best cycling gilets for more options, including insulated designs and those with more of a road cycling focus.
Part of Specialized's collaborative range with adventure and trekking specialist Fjällräven, the Adventure Vest is aimed at adventurous cyclists, gravel riders and bikepackers, but is suitable for more urban and casual needs too.
It has a more relaxed fit than many road cycling gilets, and comes with a variety of sizeable pockets – two side ones with zips, and two at the front, one zipped and the other with a press-stud fastening.
It's a gilet that feels more at home out and about adventuring rather than trying to smash PBs on the road bike, and worked well with some of my more relaxed touring style jerseys such as the Gore Explore Shirt, and was equally at home with Lycra or baggy shorts.
Specialized also suggests it's suitable for urban riding, yet only sells it in black, though it is available in Ochre (yellow) and Pomegranate Red from other sites (including Fjällräven, where it will cost you another £25).
Although a more relaxed cut than many, there were no issues with it flapping about, and it stayed put nicely thanks to the elasticated hem.
The top section of the front is made from a windproof fabric, HC-Lite, which is 54% polyamide and 46% cotton, while the lower section and back are made from recycled polyester.
You can apply Fjallraven's Greenland wax to the HC-Lite to increase its wind and shower resistance, but as it came (without any extra treatment) windproofing was excellent, and it kept me dry during a short but heavy rain shower, though I wouldn't expect it to hold out for long. The fabric dries out really quickly, though.
Despite the windproofing, the lighter weight fabric at the sides and rear meant I didn't overheat or get sweaty when wearing this, even on hilly rides. The mesh-lined zipped side pockets double up as extra ventilation too.
Going by the size guide on Specialized's website, I tested the size XL. As a high street 14-16 I was a little disappointed that this was the largest size available, but the relaxed rather than skin-tight cut combined with elastication at the hem and armpits mean it should suit a variety of shapes, although taller riders might find it a little on the short side – it was spot on for my 5ft 5in frame.
The only issue I had with the fit was the neckline being a bit too loose to provide as much wind resistance as I'd have liked. There was plenty of room for a higher necked jersey or neckwarmer, though, so it wasn't a dealbreaker, and it wasn't so loose that it wrinkled or sagged.
The zip tags aren't the easiest to operate with gloves on, plus I didn't find the action of the two-way zip quite smooth running enough to work easily when riding.
The pockets aren't that easy to access either, aside from the press-stud one is – which is also large enough to hold a reasonable-sized smartphone.
At £125 the Adventure Vest definitely sits at the upper end for cycling gilets. That said, it's hard to compare like for like as it pretty much sits alone as a slightly relaxed-fit option with plenty of pockets, that's definitely not road-focused. Plus it has that Fjallraven pedigree, and a sustainability element with its poly-cotton that can be waxed.
Of those we've tested, the Rapha Men's Brevet Gilet with Pockets at £90 is probably the closest in terms of purpose, but is no longer available. The Rapha Men's Explore Lightweight Gilet, as tested by Steve, is still available, for £100 (currently £60), but doesn't come in a women's version.
Its women's Brevet Gilet (with a pocket) is £120. It's windproof and has a DWR treatment.
Overall, this is an excellent quality gilet for more casual, adventure-style riding. It offers good wind resistance, while still being superlight and rolling up to fit into a jersey pocket or bag when not needed.
Nicely low-key in styling, yet effective, lightweight and packable
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Specialized/Fjallraven Women's Adventure Vest
Size tested: XL
Tell us what the product is for
Specialized says: "Light and packable vest, optimized for bike riding with a reinforced upper torso providing wind-resistance where it's most needed. Great as backup gear on any bike ride. Part of the Specialized/Fjällräven series for urban rides and bikepacking adventures."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Wind-resistant upper torso in HC-Lite fabric - 54% polyamide/46% cotton
Back and lower front in 100% recycled polyester.
High-low hem with bifold elastic at the back and around armholes
Two top-loaded pockets. Two zippered hand pockets.
Two-way front zipper.
Reflective stripes on the back.
Packs into its own pocket
Material- HC-Lite® ( 54% polyamide, 46% cotton) can be waxed with Fjallraven Greenland Wax
Available in sizes XS-XL
Very well made, using high-quality fabrics.
Did a great job as an adventure-focused lightweight, packable windproof gilet.
Fabric is lightweight but seems tough, and the heavier duty poly-cotton sections at the front can be waxed using Fjallraven's Greenland wax for extra windproofing and water resistance, so their performance can be both enhanced and maintained.
Relaxed and easy to wear.
Pretty much spot on as per the online size guide. A wider range of sizes would be nice.
Given that this is not a road-specific ultralight vest, it's far from a heavyweight, and even with its roomy pockets and poly-cotton section it's still light and packable.
Very comfortable indeed, and helped me maintain a good temperature when riding.
Hard to compare on price, as it stands pretty much alone as a more adventure-focused gilet. It's not cheap, but it is extremely well made.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Washed well and very easy to look after.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Performed very well indeed.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
I liked the relaxed style that's a bit less overtly road-focused, the numerous pockets and the poly cotton panels. I also appreciated how effective it was, yet light and packable.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing really. Other colour options would have been nice.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The closest in terms of purpose that we have tested is probably the Rapha Men's Brevet Gilet with Pockets, which cost £90 but is no longer available; the Rapha Men's Explore Lightweight Gilet is £100, but there's no women's version. The women's Brevet Gilet (with one pocket) is £120.
Did you enjoy using the product? Very much.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Definitely, particularly a gravel or touring rider.
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's very well made and effective, and it packs down small, without looking overly technical. If you're looking for a lightweight windproof gilet that's more touring and off-road focused than most, it's a great option.
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.