Horse Riding Gilets Buying Guide

Riding Gilet Buying Guide

The gilet, pronounced “Jee-Lay” or “Gee-Lay” is a sleeveless jacket that’s sometimes referred to as a body warmer. It’s an extremely versatile piece for layering. Read on to find out why, or use the table below to jump to a specific part of the guide. 

RIDING GILET BUYING GUIDE
What is a gilet?
What is the difference between a gilet and a body warmer?
Why wear a gilet?
What is Softshell?
What sort of gilet will suit me?
Closing thoughts


What is a gilet?

The gilet was originally worn more as a decorative garment during the 19th century in France where it embodied style more than it did warmth, unlike what we see from body warmers today. Despite the major change in functionality to a more practical purpose, the actual style of this piece hasn’t changed much over its history, largely retaining popular features such as its slightly fitted look.

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What is the difference between a gilet and a body warmer?

A common misconception is that there is a difference between a gilet and a body warmer. However, for the most part, the names are interchangeable and relate to the same thing. So at EQUUS we keep it simple and just refer to both as a gilet.

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Why wear a gilet?

For some the gilet may seem fairly pointless as, after all, it just appears to be a jacket with its sleeves missing! You’d also probably think that while it’ll keep your torso nice and toasty, your arms will simply get caught out in the cold. However, not so! The great thing about a gilet is its versatility as a piece of clothing for all year round - you can wear just about anything underneath it, whether it’s a long sleeve top in spring or a short sleeved T-shirt in summer.

This versatility provides a significant practical benefit for equestrians as it offers warmth without restricting your arms when you ride. Also, with the introduction of another key feature from their 19th century French counterparts, gilets have now got pockets, meaning you're able to carry whatever it is you may need with you.

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What is Softshell?

Softshell is a relatively new fabric designed for outdoor pursuits. It is soft to touch, breathable and stretchy, but the main benefits are that it's water repellent, wind resistant, and repels dirt. This makes Softshell a great fabric for riders, as we find ourselves outside in all (often unexpected!) weathers and know the aggravation of getting home with bits of sawdust or hay poking out of our clothing. Softshell has a fleecy backing as well, so you'll be warm on the inside and protected on the outside. 

Softshell is perfect for you if you like comfort and warmth, but it's worth bearing in mind that Softshell is only water resistant and not waterproof, so it won't protect you from heavy downpours. 

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What sort of gilet will suit me?

There’s a gilet to suit everyone’s style, young or old, for riding or for stable duties. They all have their own unique style as well as the functionality that they are trying to achieve, so it’s best to understand what it is you are looking to get out of your gilet before you decide.

For example, if you’re looking for a bit of warmth in a gilet, you’ll be better off with one containing down filling, such as the fashionable Pikeur Alice Gilet. This snug and stylish layer benefits from a detachable hood with a luxuriously soft removable faux fur trim. It comes in Dark Navy or Silver Grey. 

Pikeur Alice Gilet

If you prefer something more lightweight, check out the Shires Aubrion Palmer Softshell Gilet, which is made from soft, breathable Softshell fabric that is water repellent and wind resistant, keeping you protected and warm without the bulk. It comes in Black or Blue. 

Shires Aubrion Palmer Softshell Gilet

Or if you’re simply looking for something bright and cheerful, the HKM Extra Light Riding Waistcoat offers excellent value and comes in a range of colours to suit everybody's style.

HKM Extra Light Riding Waistcoat Green, Coral, Azure Blue

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Closing thoughts

When you look at a gilet, there are so many benefits. Put simply, it provides the perfect blend of style and practicality! Whether you're a dressage rider, a show jumper or a happy hacker, take a look at our stunning selection of this seasons gilets - the ideal extra layer. And remember, it's free UK delivery on all orders with no minimum spend at EQUUS. 

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