HOW TO CHOOSE A CYCLING VEST?
WHILE CYCLING VESTS TEND TO BE PRETTY SIMPLE GARMENTS, THERE ARE SOME KEY FEATURES TO LOOK FOR, OR AVOID, DEPENDING ON HOW YOU PLAN TO USE YOUR VEST.
1 / MATERIAL J The first thing to look at is the materials that make up the vest. Most vests are made of lightweight, wind-blocking material, and often have a vented back panel to provide additional breathability. Some manufacturers do offer vests that are designed for more severe weather, such as rain or cold. These will likely use heavier-duty water-resistant fabrics or, in some cases, even provide insulation. The Maap Prime Stow Vest, for example, uses a Polartec Neoshell fabric with no venting on the back, making it a better choice for wet and cold rides, but likely too hot for nicer days.
2 / POCKETS J A vest with pockets can be convenient for carrying a few extra things. The downside is they add bulk and reduce a vest’s ability to be packed down. If I’m heading out for a day that’s cool enough that I plan on keeping my vest on for the whole ride, then I’ll typically opt for the extra storage. On race days or when the temperature promises to warm up through my ride, I’ll choose a vest with no pockets to make it easier to stuff away later on.
3 / ZIPPER J This may be the most crucial but often overlooked detail on a cycling vest. Because you often will be taking off or putting on a vest while riding, the zipper must work smoothly. Larger zippers can be easier to locate and zip up while riding, but they add weight and are sometimes annoying in other ways—like hitting your back while riding with the vest unzipped. A two-way zipper is a must on any vest that doesn’t have pockets—to let you quickly get to your jersey pockets—and is honestly very useful on any vest, period. It allows better temperature regulation, letting you unzip from the bottom for extra breathability, while still protecting your neck from a chilly breeze.