Way back in November last year, my wife took delivery of a parcel addressed to me in the very familiar green packaging from Galibier and greeted me with the now standing joke of "What have you been ordering now?"
Despite claiming my innocence there was no denying it was from Galibier, and it was as big a surprise for me as it was for Chris.
All was revealed when I opened the package and inside was a card wishing me a merry Christmas along with the gift of the GrandTour Foul Weather Gilet in a rather pleasing grey colour. I was gobsmacked at receiving such a gift and couldn't wait for the opportunity to try it out.
The attached label highlighted the fact that the material used a 'Pressure Weaving' process, applied prior to the DWR treatment, which meant nothing to me, but I subsequently found out that DWR reduces the surface tension of the fabric and, therefore, water simply rolls off. The Pressure Weaving process enables the use of thinner materials which also offer better weather protection and improved breathability.
All very interesting and exciting, but there was something about the garment that had me puzzled. It felt fantastically soft and smooth but there was just something about its appearance that had me sort of transfixed for a while.
Finally it dawned on me: there was no type of binding material around the arms or collar and while the gilet may as a result initially look unfinished, fear not - it is all part of the design. The use of such advanced materials does away with the need for hems, stitching or any type of binding whilst taking nothing away from the gilet's performance.
My new gilet was XL, fit me well and came in the sky grey version with a purple vertical panel on the rear where it meets with the central pocket of the three deep pockets. The rear has a hi-viz 3M reflective panel to aid visibility in lower light or night-time rides, along with the Galibier winged wheel logo on the right-hand pocket. At the front of the gilet is a zipped chest pocket for valuables or the modern-day larger phones. The gilet is also available in purple with the same layout and reflective strips on the rear.
Ventilation is aided by a breathable fabric on the rear but also by a two-way front zip that can be undone from the top or bottom. The visual impact of the gilet is further enhanced by what looks like a multi flag zip liner inside the garment. I've never really thought about the benefits of two-way zips but perhaps I'll see the advantage when I get out for a ride.
I had to wait a few days to get out on the road, really bad weather and slippery roads, but eventually got a suitable weather break. I thought I was suitably dressed but it soon became clear that a base layer under a short sleeve jersey complimented with arm warmers and new gilet (I also had Roubaix tights on with Galibier over boots) was not so ideal and my arms were soon feeling the cold somewhat. Fortunately, the gilet felt something like a knight's armour breastplate might have felt by protecting my upper body from the wind but, eventually, the cold started seeping in via the arm spaces. I managed to complete the ride but was certainly glad of the hot shower afterwards.
Although I didn't know it at the time that would be my last ride of the year. A couple of weeks later I went down with bronchitis which had me house-bound throughout December, never been so ill in all my life, and once the two rounds of antibiotics and steroids had done their bit I was still struggling to get out on the bike. Fortunately, the turbo trainer and Rouvy got me going again but it was a slow and steady process to get me back to feeling anything like I had been before.
It seems strange to say it but at least the inclement weather was still with us when I managed to get out on the road again and I felt the full benefit of the Grand Tour gilet.
Throughout the cold windy weather, the gilet was like a comfort blanket keeping the cold and the wind out and keeping the warmth in and as there have been no real signs of summer warmth just yet, the gilet has proved to be a useful bit kit on my morning partial commute, whereby I drive part way to work, park up and cycle the rest of the way in. It's always nice to have that bit of extra protection.
During my weekend rides the deep rear pockets have proved to be very useful in packing in snacks and other paraphernalia that I tend to carry with me. On one ride I put my phone in the rear pocket of my jersey and, of course, put the gilet over the top, as you do. It wasn't until I got back home that my good lady mentioned she'd been a bit concerned that she couldn't track me around my ride - we both have 'find my friends' trackers on our phones so Chris can see where I am, how I'm progressing and where she needs to go if she needs to drive the rescue wagon to come and pick me up.
As this has never happened before I can only assume that with my phone being in my middle pocket the signal must have been blocked by the reflective strip that covers the middle pocket on the gilet. Quick note to myself to use the zipped pocket on the front of the gilet next time.
The gilet washes well and looks brand new after every wash so I have no fears about its longevity.
By the time I'm back from my holidays I'm hoping that the weather will have improved enough to hang the gilet up in the wardrobe with the rest of the winter gear but if cold mornings are still around, I know I'll be reaching for the GrandTour.
In simple terms the gilet works and, once again, Galibier have produced a top-quality piece of clothing that does exactly what you want it to do, and can easily compete with any of the more expensive offerings that are out there.
At £69.25 it truly does represent good value for money and, as I have said before, once you sample any of the Galibier products you'll just want to keep heading back for more.
GrandTour Foul Weather Gilet, £69.25 from galibier.cc