Metier’s very fancy gilet takes the fight to weather and darkness
Words and Images - James Raison
We’re in a blessed age of ever-shrinking batteries, ever-brightening lights, rapid fabric development, and creative apparel design. Enter Metier; a company whose Beacon range that takes some fancy, weather-resistant apparel and wires it up with LEDs. I’ve been pitting their gilet against a dark, cold, and damp Adelaide Autumn to see how it stacks up.
FIT AND FEEL
Pulling the Metier on is a pleasure. It’s quite a slim and long fit which is spot-on ideal for my proportions. It easily stretches down, over loaded up jersey pockets. The elastic waistband and silicone grippers hold it in place, even when you’re thrashing about on the bike.
The material feels somewhere between a Castelli Perfetto and a Rapha Pro Team Race Cape; a thin soft shell. The side panels have plenty of stretch in them so it doesn't feel at all restrictive.
Metier’s party trick is turning you into a rolling planetarium with 2 strips of 160 lumen LEDs running from your collarbone to your underarms, and a horizontal strip of 22 lumen LEDs on the lower back. They’re powered by a removable, rechargeable 1000 mAh battery that lives inside the gilet and works as the light controller. Squeeze the battery and it’ll cycle through 3 light modes; slow flash, fast flash, and constant. Operation is easy, just give the battery a prod and it’ll change mode. No difficulty at all, even in thick gloves.
On the road, the lights aren’t overly distracting and don’t interfere with your vision when looking ahead. LED placement means that the lights are pointing forwards and down, rather than beaming into your face. The lights do splash onto your handlebars and that’s where you’ll notice it most. Those who chew a lot of stem, or stare at their Garmin will find the flash annoying but you can always switch to solid mode. The illuminated bike increases your side visibility too.
There’s reflective treatment covering the back of the vest as an added bonus. It does a good job illuminating you when headlights cast over you. It’s quite a dark reflective treatment too, in keeping with the aesthetic of the gilet.
That darkness is both good and bad. From a style standpoint, I love the svelte black look with minimal branding. It means your safety-conscious gilet doesn’t look safety conscious all the time. From a visibility standpoint, it doesn’t make you visible in some conditions. It needs to be quite dark for lights and reflective treatment to be effective. Vest efficacy is reduced in low light, or overcast conditions that suit bright colours.
The Beacon is made of hydrophobic fabric with DWR (Durable Water Repellent) finish to keep out precipitation. I rode it through some Autumn showers and it was perfectly effective. The seams are sealed up tight, and
Breathability surprisingly good. There’s no vents to speak of, just a couple of slashes on the back for pocket access. The front is beefed up for added warmth and no wind seeps through. All of the seams are sealed up too. It’s an effective barrier to cold air when it’s zipped up.
Great looks, lovely fit ‘n, feel, cool lights, and effective weather shielding comes with two drawbacks: price and removability during rides.
The vest is 180 GBP from Metier, or $330 AUD on the CyclingTips Emporium. That’s a fair stack of cash. It’s reasonable when looked at in context of high-end gilets. Weatherproof gilets from Rapha are around $230 to $245, and Pedla’s reflective RideFLASH gilet is $295. None of those offerings have Metier’s impressive light show though. As an added bonus, Metier sends you a wash bag and some of their fabric wash for the Beacon. So in proper context the gilet is a pricey garment but not surprising when you stack up all the features and details.
The other limitation is removability. You can’t take the Beacon off and stuff it into a jersey pocket. It’s far too bulky. The decision to wear it means you will have it on the whole ride.
Metier’s Beacon gilet is an exceptionally well-designed product. I’ve been grabbing it from its hanger a lot since Autumn/Winter kicked in properly. It protects me from wind, rain, and nasty chills. Its light apparatus is no gimmick either. My early morning, or after work rides are done in total darkness at this time of your which has made this gilet is my outer layer of choice. It feels safer wearing it.
There’s no escaping the price tag. It’s a damned expensive gilet. But, it’s in a very niche segment. It’s an excellent gilet that’s had a light system built in so it’s hard to benchmark it against many products.
Those willing to spend won't be disappointed. It's a lovely piece of kit.
Head to the Metier website to buy a Beacon Gilet.
Disclosure statement: This gilet was sent for review by Metier.