While ordinarily associated with rugby fans, yachting families or the outdoorsy types, we think it’s fair to say that the humble gilet (otherwise known as a padded vest or bodywarmer) has got its fair share of criticism over the years. However, with the rise of gorpcore, functional clothing has now crossed over into the mainstream.
The gilet is a surprisingly versatile garment, capable of being worn as an outer layer in the early autumn months or under a coat in the winter. It's high time every bloke had a gilet or two in their wardrobe, but which one should you pick? In our buying guide, we’ll walk through all the subtle and not-so-subtle differences. We'll also rank the top 10 best gilets for men on Amazon, ASOS and John Lewis.
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Whilst all gilets serve the same purpose, to keep us that little bit warmer, different styles will achieve this in different ways. In this section, we’ll look at the different cuts and materials, as well as other practical features that are worth keeping an eye out for.
The first thing to consider is the different styles of gilets available. This is going to be the most defining factor when it comes to both aesthetics and materials. Here's what you need to know!
The classic puffer gilet looks and feels a lot like a down jacket, only without the arms. They can be filled with down, feathers or other synthetic imitations of these materials, which work to keep you warm by creating tiny pockets of air which trap heat.
This style is considered the warmest option and has a practical and sporty look that's very versatile. The only issue is that you’re going to have to fork out for the privilege.
Lastly, you have technical gilets. These will all vary greatly depending on what their purpose is. These can be useful for a variety of endeavours, and you'll be able to find specific technical gilets for a multitude of activities such as running and cycling, as well as ones appropriate for farming and workwear.
Although these are generally more practical than stylish, a wide range of popular brands such as Carhartt, Barbour and even Nike create technical gilets. So apply common sense when looking for a technical gilet to fulfil your particular needs.
Pockets are a handy design feature to look for when choosing a gilet. As with most outerwear, gilets tend to come with two side pockets, providing at least enough space for you to bury your hands into on those brisk autumn walks to the local.
However, it’s not also uncommon to find gilets with additional pockets, such as upper chest pockets, or inside pockets. These offer a little extra convenience and mean you can stash your wallet, car keys and whatever else you have on you, without needing to carry a bag.
When it comes to gilets, you should try to prioritise finding a snug fit as this is what will keep the warmth trapped inside. Opting for a relaxed fit may look more stylish, but there will also be more space for draughts to get. Therefore, losing the unique insulating qualities that the garment brings.
One way of ensuring the heat stays in, even if the fit isn’t perfect, is by picking up a gilet with an adjustable hem. These tend to come in the form of a drawstring, and allows the wearer to achieve a more personalised and comfortable fit.
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The North Face
Once You Put It on, You Won't Want to Take It Off
Tobias B/W II Bodywarmer
Great Quality and Even Better Value for Money
Quilt Lined Vest
From a Company Renowned for Their Long-Lasting Garments
Go To Gilet
The Archetypal Puffer Gilet
Hi-Viz Cycling and Running Gilet
The Ultimate Reflective Running and Cycling Gilet
Antelao White Rock Pack Polar Fleece
A Gilet That's Easy on the Eye
A Versatile Layer That Adopts Seasonal Colours
Excel Runner Thermal Gilet
Added Warmth Without the Weight
Fogle Wilderness Wasedale Gilet
Made Alongside an Esteemed Adventurer
Heritage Essentials Winter Fleece Gilet
An Hybrid Gilet With a Lot of Style
Okay, we know it's expensive, but sometimes in life you get what you pay for. If you have the money, you're going to be really happy with this purchase! This puffer style gilet from The North Face is stuffed with 700-fill responsibly sourced insulating down. Not only is it extremely toasty, but also very lightweight.
Moreover, it's made from hardy ripstop fabric to prevent tears and comes in a range of sizes so that everyone will be snug. Once you've put this baby on, we promise you'll never want to take it off - and if that isn't a sign of money well spent, well, we don't know what is.
This fleece bodywarmer from Regatta is one of the most economical gilets that you'll find online. It's a double-sided with a brushed fleece lining, which is considered softer and warmer. Even better, the outside is anti-pill, so you'll never have to worry about unsightly bobbles appearing after a wash.
Whether you're looking for something to take the edge off on a chilly evening, or an additional layer to add to your ever-growing winter ensemble, this offers both great quality and great value for money.
Carhartt started as a company designing workwear for manual labourers, so they know a thing or two about creating clothing that's built to last. This quilt-lined gilet from their fashion line employs the same manufacturing techniques, but with more style-conscious cuts.
This particular gilet is made using 12-ounce ring-spun cotton, that's both water and wind-resistant. It has a nylon arctic quilt liner for insulation, and a drop tail, which should keep the derrière from being cold if you fancy sitting down.
Made to be the ideal mid-layer, this offering from Joules is pretty much the archetypal puffer gilet. It has a traditional barrel-style outer, with a contrasting quilted lining on the inside. This combination gives the jacket that classic sporty-preppy look that's both visually appealing and practical.
Additionally, the jacket has a drawstring hem and two side pockets. If the navy isn't your cup of tea, it's also available in other neutral shades such as grey, olive and a rich port.
Now, this offering from BTR doesn't provide the same warmth as the other running gilet at number 8, but what it lacks in heat retention, it certainly makes up for with technical features! As you may have noticed it's completely Hi-Viz, so you'll have no worries about being seen, regardless of what time you run.
Furthermore, the gilet has a vented panel across the back and mesh lining throughout to aid with airflow and ventilation. And while the hems aren't adjustable per se, they are elasticated, so they'll fit comfortably to the body even as you run.
Fila has made a thumping comeback over the past five years or so, and it's easy to see why when they make products as attractive as this! Using contrasting and very striking colours, it's a visually interesting piece that will complement any wardrobe - particularly if you're into sports or streetwear styles.
The garment has plenty of personal item storage options, with two side pockets and two upper chest pockets, both of which are zippered. So you don't have to worry about your valuables slipping out.
Coming in a seasonal khaki colour, this gilet from Nike fits true to size. The high collar will keep the wind out, while the deep side pockets provide a place to keep your hands toasty, as well as being able to store your essentials.
It's a versatile garment for additional warmth when outdoors, without limiting your range of motion. Our only concern is that depending on the size you require, it could mean that it's a little roomy. And without adjustable hems, you could see the breeze get in.
As the temperatures drop, so does our motivation to get out and do those weekly runs. Being that little bit warmer is bound to make getting out the house that bit easier, which is why we recommend this technical runners gilet from TSA.
This is an Amazon favourite is made using sustainable padding for warmth without adding too much weight. Not only that, but it also has reflective strips on the front and back should you go out during the evenings. Just be aware that they come up a bit small, so you'll want to check the sizing guide before jumping in.
Barbour has teamed up with the esteemed adventurer and TV producer Ben Fogle and his wife Marina to create a practical, but fashion-friendly product. Made with soft poly-cotton fabric blend, this is a perfect mid or outer layer, depending on the weather.
The gilet is styled with a stand-up collar to keep the elements out, of if you fancy yourself the Cantona of the British countryside. It comes in a bit of a loud colour that may put some people off, but we think the burnt orange is perfect for those Autumnal days.
While it may have fleece in the name, this gilet is actually a hybrid between a puffer and a fleece. It features multiple convenient pockets, and of course, emblazoned on the chest is the retro Nike logo, that seems to be making somewhat of a comeback these days.
While the double design may lead you to believe it has double the warmth, that sadly won't be the case as the upper isn't filled with any insulating material. Still, if you're looking for something a bit different, this gilet will have you standing out from the crowd!
There's nothing better than enjoying a brisk walk on a cold winter's day - or so they say. This certainly won't be the case if you're left shivering under inappropriate attire. When a hoodie just isn't enough to keep out the chill, you're going to need some warm winter garments to brave the great outdoors. Check out the links below to find out more!
These days, gilets are fashionable, functional and cool. Which is why they've become an autumn/winter staple for many blokes. Whether you're looking to stay warm, be seen, or simply stay on-trend, there is a gilet out there for you, and we hope you managed to find it via our recommendations!
Author: Lewis Clark
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