Ground Effect Pace Gillet
Price: £28 plus post and packing
Features: Micro fleece with high visibility windshield panels, 1 rear zipped pocket.
When the winter really gets going there comes a temperature that's too cold for shell jacket and thin thermal, yet you'll sweat like a steamed pig if you try and squeeze a full weight fleece under your jacket.
That's exactly where the Pace Gillet and the other perfectly armless garments we'll be testing this week come in. They're ideal for bulking up full winter insulation without immobilising or incinerating you, and designed right they're versatile as an outer layer on milder days.
Ground Effect are a New Zealand company who are rapidly gaining a reputation for really well designed yet startlingly cheap riding gear that works better than just about anything else out there, through smart thinking rather than exotic materials.
Typically for Ground Effect, the Pace takes a simpler, cheaper approach than other windproof garments, by simply sitching windbreaker panels onto the face of the lightweight Polartec 100 fleece. The high visibility yellow panels cover the whole front of the vest and the zipped pocket at the rear, stopping draughts and fighting off drizzle and mud from the front tyre too. The only downside is a slight rustle, but it feels less stiff and more snug than Gore's Windstopper fabric.
The vest is also designed to be reversible with a double sided front zipper. This means greater versatility on less windy days when you don't want the extra heat trapped in the fleece as well, however the rear pocket can only be opened from the fleecey side which occasionally confounded us.
Cut is close, using the stretch of the fleece rather than drawcords, and the thin weight fleece is a good balance between warmth and breathability for most under shell winter conditions. The high stretch fleece collar is extra cosy, but the shoulders are quite narrow which means the outside edge of your collarbones get a bit chilled. Pack weight and size is excellent so it'll stuff in a Camelbak or bum bag in case it turns bitter, but the most impressive feature is the price, which is extremely good value even when you add postal costs.
We've also ridden in and highly rate most of the other Ground Effect gear so it's worth getting a group together for shopping and going for the postage free total.
There's nothing wrong with using simple smart design rather than relying on expensive material and that's exactly what the Kiwi's have done. Fleece weight is ideal for high mobility under shell toastiness, and the reversible design makes it really useful as an outer layer for milder days. If it had slightly wider shoulders it'd be perfect but it's certainly a great price if you can wait for it to arrive.