On cooler days it can be difficult to know what to wear: we all know that doing daily chores at the yard makes a coat too warm. This is where the versatile gilet comes into its own. Such a useful piece of clothing to have in your wardrobe, a gilet is great for adding a little bit of warmth but without you overheating. They also look stylish for riding in, whether at home or out at a training clinic.
The following five gilets were used by our testers on a daily basis over a three-month period. Each gilet is given a mark out of five for fit, performance, and value for money. This gives an overall value out of 15.
1. ‘The Muddy Brit’ Ladies Body Warmer
Fit: A great fitting padded gilet, with side panels that give it a flattering look. I’ve found in comfortable to wear on the yard and for riding. Fitting a fleece underneath on colder days is fine, and I have worn a lightweight coat over the top when it has been raining. 5 stars
Performance: A lightweight and warm waistcoat that looks good and is comfortable too. Plus it’s made from 100% recycled polyester. The two pockets are a good size, but there is no two-way zip; this meant it did ride up a little when I was riding.
For yard and casual wear it’s a practical choice — a good extra layer. It’s easy to wash and dries quickly. 4.5 stars
Value for money: Fair value. I like the eco-friendly nature of this one. It’s good quality too. 4.5 stars
Total score: 14
2. HY Equestrian Exquisite Stirrup and Bit Collection Gilet
Fit: This is a close-fitting gilet that’s true to size. The stretch side panels allow you to move freely when you’re riding and make it comfortable to wear. The stretch material is also used around the arm holes, adding to the comfort. This gilet has a two-way zip, which is always a useful addition to give you a bit more room over your hips when you’re riding. I did find it rode up a little, which made it a bit bulky around my middle. 4.5 stars
Performance: A smart gilet — I particularly love the rose gold zip detail. The collar is soft to touch and comfortable. This is a great additional layer that works best with a base layer underneath, as it’s already quite close-fitting. If you do need more warmth, you can easily pop a jacket over the top. A good choice for wearing to lessons when you don’t want to be too warm. It washes well, dries quickly and still looks like new. 4.5 stars
Value for money: Great value for a smart and comfortable gilet. I would recommend it to other riders. 4.5 stars
Total score: 13.5
3. Coldstream Kimmerston Quilted Gilet
Colour: Navy, taupe, windsor wine, charcoal grey
Fit: This gilet is a perfect fit — a little longer than some in this test but it’s comfortable to wear in and out of the saddle. It has a two-way zip and side zips to give you a bit more room when you’re riding, and these worked well. 5 stars
Performance: A gorgeous lightweight gilet that I’ve worn at the yard and as part of my casual wardrobe as it looks great with jeans. It keeps you snug on cooler days and it’s roomy enough to get a thicker layer underneath, although it was too bulky to put a jacket over the top on cold days.
The high collar is a great addition and it’s lined with a soft fleece-like material that’s really comfortable. 4.5 stars
Value for money: On the pricey side, but this is a smart and practical gilet. 4 stars
Total score: 13.5
4. Ariat Ideal 3.0 Down Vest
Colours: Black, navy eclipse, pasture print, iridescent banyan bark, iridescent eurasian teal
Fit: This fits perfectly and is true to size. The material around the arms is stretchy, which adds to the great fit. It’s also a good length and covers your back nicely. It’s comfortable to wear in and out of the saddle. 5 stars
Performance: This vest is so lightweight you really don’t know you’re wearing it, yet it keeps you warm. I really like the quilt styling – it looks different but is so flattering. The warmth is provided by premium down, and so I tumble dried it after washing, which takes a bit of time. However, I’ve washed this gilet three times and it’s come out fine after each wash — and it still looks good. 4.5 stars
Value for money: Pricey, but it looks great and will keep you warm. 4 stars
Total score: 13.5
5. Nattily Dressed Fleece Gilet
RRP £120 (coral trim gilets £130; pom pom £5)
Colours: Navy/ pink, grey/ pink, navy/ lime, grey/ lime, navy/ sky, grey/ sky, navy/ coral, grey/ coral, navy/ purple, grey/ purple, navy/ mint, grey/ mint
Fit: True to size, this fleece gilet fits perfectly and is so comfortable. What I really like about it is the back length – it’s generous and keeps your back covered at all times, even when you’re bending over picking out hooves. There’s also an elasticated waist adjustment to give a closer fit and shape if you prefer. 5 stars
Performance: This is so comfortable and cosy to wear yet lightweight enough that I can wear a jacket over the top on really cold days. It looks smart and I love the bright contrast colour zip and trim. These gilets are made in the UK using 100% recycled polyester fabric (on average 20 plastic bottles are recycled to make each gilet).
The only downside, as with most fleece fabrics, is that everything sticks to it, but I still wear it to the yard as it keeps me warm and comfortable. It’s been washed several times, it dries really quickly and no bobbling. 4.5 stars
Value for money: This is expensive, however, you won’t be disappointed and you’re doing your bit for sustainability too. 3.5 stars
Total score: 13