OXFORD VENTURE WINDPROOF GILET
232g (Medium) £49.99
The Oxford Venture Windproof Gilet is part of the brand’s Advanced Rider series, which, as the name implies, is made with enthusiasts in mind, and consummate specification. During a particularly chill Spring test period, I’ve been impressed with its blend of wind cheating and wicking prowess. The laminated fabric, though not marketed as water resistant, also serves to block, light showery rain.
Pros: Great cut, nice features and good performance.
Cons: Middleweight fabric less conducive to stuffing in jersey pockets, when not required.
100% Polyester describes many garments, although as we know, all have different specifications and qualities. This one is a three-layer design, which bodes well for breathability and moisture management.
The “Warmdry” technology consists of a laminate outer layer, designed to block the chill, while the others retain warmth and expel rider generated heat. Again, Polyesters aren’t seamless in their moisture management, rather respond once a certain temperature is reached. However, some are more responsive than others.
There is a slightly raised, fleece-lined collar, designed to offer protection from sneaky winds. Ours is the high viz yellow, “Daybright”, but there is a “Nightbright” black with clever, stealthy reflective detailing for night-time visibility. Specification is otherwise identical.
A silicone gripper keeps it tethered around the waist, a full-length zipper means you can regulate temperature physically, which is welcome in changeable conditions. The Venture isn’t alone in this respect, but a bigger zipper tag would be welcomed. Running a small cable tie through the tag drilling sorted this. I’m a fan of pockets, generous, useable ones that is. Round the back, Oxford has gone for the classic three terrace with elasticated tops.
These are a deep cobalt grey, which means they’re easy to spot and I like the contrasting aesthetic. Now, I should point out these are cobalt grey by day but turn a brilliant white under vehicle and street lighting. In terms of brilliance. In my experience, it doesn’t quite rival the brilliance of Pro-Viz Reflect but very intelligently positioned and a notch higher than most.
Up front, a zippered breast pocket, which is quite TARDIS-like and will swallow a long zoom travel compact camera without feeling over-burdened. Some additional retro-reflective logos and detailing completes the package.
The Venture boasts what’s known as “Dynamic fit” which is most simply described as a racier, figure hugging cut, perfect for faster paced riding, although it may limit layering. No issues with a long sleeve base and middleweight, thermal winter jersey. However, if you’re particularly sensitive to chill, or want to wear one of the thicker, jersey cum jacket hybrids, then their relaxed fit Endeavour, might be your best bet.
There’s a decent amount of stretch in the fabric and ample length so the lower back and vital organs are well protected when you’re hunkering low on the drops. These days, medium is my default, confirmed by double checking their size chart. Absolutely bang on for my 70 kilo, 1m81 frame. Staying with sizing, it is trickier than say, a tin shell type gilet to stuff in a jersey pocket, should the temperature rise, during a ride.
Comfort has been particularly impressive through a decidedly chill April and slightly chill May. I am often out early in the morning, or late in the evening, when the temperature can quickly tumble. The laminated fabric and fleece collar have done an excellent job of blocking icy gusts and less intense but sustained chill.
As a side note, I’m hardy, but susceptible to chest infections, which will linger for weeks, hence keeping my chest and core protected is particularly important. Averaging 19mph for 2 or so hours in temperatures ranging between 3 and 12 degrees, I’ve always felt temperate, with minimal “misting” before the fibres raced in, at the higher end of this spectrum-no dampness.
That's a moot point when it was a few degrees cooler, allowing me to concentrate on tempo and generally enjoying the ride. Worth noting that I’ve been alternating between merino and pricier synthetic base and mid layers. Hunkered low on the drops and letting rip on the descents, there’s been no hint of flutter, or bunching gathering for that matter, so the fabric and silicone gripper clearly do exactly what they say in the blurb.
Aside from being a great test of the fluro’s prowess, misty rides saw water droplets settle briefly on the laminate, before beading up and rolling off. When the rains finally arrived, water tended to bead up and roll away.
However, in these situations, a micro, or lightweight jacket such as the 7Mesh Cypress Hybrid Cycling will slip beneath without any issues. The pockets have been excellent hosts to large smart phones, 600ml trade bananas, spare tubes and house keys-no issues with annoying bounce, let alone ejection. The fluro yellow has plenty of presence and this wasn’t limited to overcast or dusky conditions.
So far, it’s holding up very nicely. In my experience, fluro colours tend to collect stubborn, oily residue and traffic filth more readily than others. There are a couple of mucky marks just above the hem line that are clinging on, despite several machine washes and gentle pre-wash agitation. Washing is just a matter of popping in the machine, with minimal detergent and 30 degrees (I’ve done an accidental forty degree run without any problems, too). Otherwise not so much as a loose thread.
£49.99 is cheaper than some steeper than others. Pro-Viz Reflect 360 Cycling Gilet is £54.99 and features a water and wind proof fabric, hip pockets, perforated back and of course, the incredible retro-reflective technology.
BTwin Mens visibility PPE Certified Sleeveless Reversible Gilet 500 is a bit of a mouthful, but is a very capable design, albeit aimed more at commuting audiences. Fluro one side, black the other, it has three zippered pockets, and the fabric offers excellent insulation from chill. At the other extreme, DHB Aeron Alpha Gilet features Polartec fleece fabric, keeping warmth, without leaving the rider feeling “boiled in the bag” but at £100, it's over twice the Oxford Venture’s asking price.
Those looking to stay warm on a budget and who don’t mind some additional bulk may find Lomo Thermal Cycling Gilet a good bet. £21. It features a micro-fleece fabric, full-length zipper, and three pockets at the rear.
Ultimately, the Oxford Venture is a well-designed and executed gilet suited to faster-paced riding in changeable conditions. However, it is a little trickier to shove in a jersey pocket, should the temperature climb.