Eliel winter cycling kit review
California-based Eliel cycling apparel is ‘race-cut gear that lasts.’
Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
Eliel is a California-based kit company with strong roots in the cycling community. They offer some of the coolest-looking kit designs on the circuit, but half of what makes their kit look so good is the modern and anatomically correct cuts of the garments, which in general tends to be more aero than club cut.
Eliel Merino baselayer
The Eliel Cambria baselayer ($80) is a perfect example of Eliel’s flattering, form-fitting cuts. It is designed and sized appropriately to allow it to fit comfortably across the chest without being too loose or too tight in the underarm area, and short enough to prevent an awkward ridge of fabric below the jersey hem.
Even after several washings, the Merino wool blend is still smooth — not itchy — and affords temperature regulation, which allows me to wear a vest over a thin thermal later in 30-degree weather. My body heat stayed in, while sweat evaporated instead of soaking into my shirt like a sponge.
Also read: Cold weather cycling gear for people who don’t like riding in the cold
Eliel Wool socks
The Eliel signature wool socks ($18) feel almost like poly-blend high-end athletic socks – none of that loosey-goosey, easily stretched-out wool material, and fit similarly. They keep my feet warm during rides, and they aren’t overly tight, nor bulky. They are also a reasonable length for my long legs. I’d suggest noting the sizing to be sure they aren’t too tight. Low circulation in the toes from tight socks is sure to make your feet feel cold, even if the material of the socks is insulating. The “tell” of a good sock is its longevity, and I haven’t had these long enough to tell if they’ll stand the test of time.
Eliel Gibraltar jacket
I’ve been searching for a good wind jacket to take me from fall into spring, and the Eliel Gibraltar jacket ($180) fits the bill because of the rarity of its combination of features; it’s a packable, waterproof windbreaker with a double zipper that comes in color options. These features make it a near “unicorn” item. Colorful options may not be rare, but a jacket that combines colors with packability, and a double zipper, is harder to find than I initially thought. There are quite a few black windbreakers with these features, but not many in colors. The black Gibraltar is pictured, but there are other color options available.
I am also interested in this specifically because the triple-layer material is slightly heavier than the extremely lightweight packables designed specifically for summer. The more substantial material allows the Gibraltar to remain useful at colder temperatures as an outer layer while wearing a thin thermal jersey (like the Eliel T2 or T1 jerseys). The Gibraltar jacket also features my main requirement: a double zipper. Some people may prefer a slit on the lower back, I prefer the double zipper because the zip serves not only for easy pocket access but as temperature control.
Relaxed cuffs are the other feature I’ve been searching for, unfortunately, the Gibraltar features the expected scrunched circle cuffs that choke my wrists and make the jacket more difficult to take off than the overlapping sleeve cuff design on my old Castelli, for instance. The sleeves are also on-point proportionally, which means they are a little short for me. I need a 23-inch sleeve — which is rare — for sizes small or medium. The Gibraltar jacket gets no points deducted for the standard design, but no added points for ingenuity, either. Overall, the Gibraltar is a very worthy windbreaker on the strength of the stitch quality, the color options, and the double zipper.
Eliel Marin T2 thermal jersey
The Eliel Marin T2 thermal jersey ($180) ditches the double zipper feature. It’s not as necessary on the jersey as outwear because it has rear pockets, therefore there’s no need to wear a jersey with pockets underneath as with a pocketless windbreaker. The stand-out visual feature of the Eliel T2 are the reflective accents, which are very welcome on winter gear as there are fewer hours of daylight and I’m more likely to be caught in fading daylight.
The one downside of the T2 thermal jersey: The batting is white, and it occasionally shows where panels end. Places where the stitching pulls at the garment, like the shoulders or the pockets, have a white speck and that is likely the batting showing through, assuming the exterior is dyed, not printed. The garment still functions well (despite the same, too-short sleeve issue I have with almost every thermal jersey). The windproofing on the front and the evaporative panels on the back do their jobs effectively. The Eliel Thermal level 2 — the brand’s mid-weight insulation — is comfortable with just the Merino baselayer in 30-degree temperatures.
Eliel thermal skull cap
The Eliel thermal skull cap ($40) is fantastic, but unfortunately, isn’t big enough to accommodate my hair. I can wear it, but it’s uncomfortably tight. For those who fit the cap, it is well-designed and well-made. The cut features ear panels that should cover most riders’ ears, and the panels are cut in an anatomical arch to keep from sliding around under a helmet. The thermal batting is black like the exterior material, so there’s no gray “grin” when the cap stretches.
Also read: Bootleg kit versus the real thing — how to spot the fakes
Eliel T2 knickers
The Eliel thermal T2 knickers ($260) are admittedly my first pair of a middle-temperature garment. Taking into account where I live, the temperature window for three-quarter bibs is just so narrow, but now that I have the T2 knickers, I find myself wearing them when I would have previously worn thermal bib shorts and embrocation. The quality of the Eliel bibs is so high, including the narrow, silicone leg grippers, which I usually hate. They work fine considering they hit me just under the knee, but this is the struggle of those who are taller than common proportions for our width. Bean poles, like me, either sacrifice length in the leg or end up with baggy bibs, which is a huge “no.”
The bibs fit well over the rest of my body, and chamois is fine for a century. The material is compressive and warm, but light enough not to feel like ski gear. The wind protection is moderate, so they’re not for the coldest days (like the Eliel T3 line).
The knickers sent to me are labeled as men’s gear, so I’ll never know if the women’s are significantly different, but this is okay for me. The overall high quality of the stitching and materials goes beyond the gender-specific cut.
The Eliel cold-weather gear, from the Merino base layer to the windshell, form a good adjustable cold-weather system. I’ve experience with Eliel’s summer jerseys and bibs, which have lasted for years. Even if you’re not into their awesome team designs like I am, Eliel offers solid quality that’s built to last. The only downside I have to point out is sleeve- and leg-lengths are not made for the overly leggy or long-armed among us, but if you’ve already found ways to mitigate that as most tall people have, then Eliel is a great buy, and built to last.