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The Vest Buyer's Guide


>> Ashley Benson


As the weather begins to heat up, you've started peeling off your jacket and cursing it for keeping you warm even when you want to stay cool. Even with the liner taken out and the vents wide open, you still feel like you could fall over at any second with a severe fit of heat stroke. But you like your spine intact and you know that accidents don't wait for summer to be over and you to be wearing your hefty jacket again. So that gives you two options: deal with the heat and sweat out a few pounds during each ride or park your bike for the summer. You like the idea of losing a little weight just by riding but the discomfort is almost unbearable and parking your bike for the summer is just not an option. So what do you do? Buy a vest.

A lot of people think leather wearing, chopper riding, hardcore biker or bright orange construction vest when they think of motorcycle vests. But in all reality, there are a lot of different vest styles and materials made to suite all riders who just can't handle sleeves in the summer. These vests are all meant to give you some sort of extra protection whether it be by making you more visible or allowing you that extra layer and armor around your torso. Don't believe us? Well here is everything you need to know about motorcycle vests.

The Safety Vest

You've had to dodge one too many (one is too many all in itself) oblivious car drivers who just didn't see you on your bike and you never want to go unnoticed again. You don't care what people have to say about your style because at least you'll be alive to hear about it. After all, you don't ride to look cool, you ride to feel good and being safe is the best feeling around. So instead of wearing just another black jacket that makes you more invisible than you already are, you slap on a one of these bright orange or high-vis yellow safety vests. We commend you!

These vests are made to be seen and that's exactly what you want. With its high-vis color and the strips of reflective tape, there's no way to be missed no matter what the time of day is or the amount of visibility. Plus these vests come in a variety of denier counts and amounts of protection to vary from being something you can just toss on over your jacket or wear solo. The more inexpensive of these vests is made purely to increase your visibility. On the other hand, safety vests like this Fieldsheer On Base 2.0 Vest have a much higher denier count and can protect your torso in the event that you happen to lay your bike down. Additionally, these vests have the special features such as a longer tail to keep wind from whipping up your back to pockets for your ID and money. This vest is also compliant with military specs in order to allow for riders to wear them on base. We know that military personnel are required to have an outermost layer that is compliant with military regulations. Vests like this are perfect for both riding on and off-base instead of having to buy one for each.

These safety vests are perfect for making sure you never go unnoticed and some will give you the option of having a protected torso while riding without a jacket.

The Leather Vest

Believe it or not, leather vests serve more purpose than just making you look tough and giving you something to slap your club's coat-of-arms on. These vests will give you to some level of protection while allowing your arms to breath in the warm summer air. Leather is a great material for protection. A good cowhide has a high abrasion resistance and will protect your supple skin from the pavement if you happen to take a fall. Some of these vests will also come with additional armor to protect your back and spine (which seems o be fairly important). Yet manufacturers know that you'll probably be wearing these bad boys during the warm weather months and often design them to breath better and let the heat out rather than keep it in. We love this Icon Regulator Air-Cooled Motorcycle Vest.

Many of these vests are made to either be worn by themselves or over other riding gear and tend to be slightly adjustable accordingly. Adjustable side straps and Velcro allow you to make your vest larger or smaller depending on if you would like to wear it solo or throw it on over a jacket when the weather cools down.

These vests are also great in case you get caught in crappy weather. When you left your house, the sun was shining and there wasn't a cloud in sight. But suddenly you find yourself in a little unexpected rain. A good leather vest will protect your torso from the sudden harsh conditions until it passes and is certainly better than nothing.

But we do have to admit, the style itself is also a perk of these vests. We know that many riders belong to groups, which love to put their insignia and patches on their jackets to represent them. However, as the summer makes it more uncomfortable to wear your leather jacket, a vest will let you show love for your riding group without having to wear your bulky jacket.

The Textile Vest

So you love the idea of wearing a vest for extra protection while still allowing your body to breath in warmer weather but you just can't get into the whole leather vest thing. This doesn't mean that you need to rock your textile street jacket all year round or give up all torso protection all together. Luckily there are plenty of textile vests that will protect your precious core without over heating you. We quite fond of the Joe Rocket Street Vest. You may even find these vests to be great under your jacket for extra protection in the winter.

These vests are typically made with a higher denier in order to be abrasion resistant and often come with armor such as a spine protector. With sealed pockets, you won't have to worry about not having a place to store your stuff and reflective piping will help to make you visible even at night.

The Off-road Vest

There's no denying that a good off-road ride will make even the fittest rider break a sweat. So it's typical for an off-road rider to shy away from motorcycle jackets and stick to the much thinner jersey wear and less bulky armor. But when even the wind whipping past your toasty torso isn't enough to cool you down, be thankful that vest manufacturers have managed to design some vests that can aid in cooling you down. Like this TechNiche Hyperkewl Ultra Sport Vest, these vests are made with a lightweight material that can be soaked in water and then use the moisture and air circulation to evaporate body heat away from you and can help keep you cool for anywhere from two to ten hours per soaking. And when your vest runs out of moisture and cooling power, it's easy just to re-soak it and continue on your merry way.

If you plan to be riding in a much colder temperature and don't want a bulky jacket to restrict your range of movement, there are also heating vests that will keep you warm while still allowing you to have free range of your arms. This Techniche Ultra Air Activated Heating Vest has Heat Pax body warmers that can be put in heating pockets on the vest to keep your torso warm. And if you happen to be riding in an unbearably cold climate where even a jacket and your own body heat isn't enough to keep you from freezing, this vest is warm enough to throw on under your jacket for that extra bit of warmth.

Some vests, like this Alpinestars MX Tactic BNS Motorcycle Vest, are great for giving you that perfect little bit of extra protection like a chest protector would while still being super light weight. It can be warn by itself or under your jersey and the dirt and stone protector and dual density front and rear vented foam protectors are perfect for keeping your body safe without weighing you down.

Under-vests

Vests are also great for going under jackets. Riding in extremes can be rough even with the best of jackets and vests can help to keep you warm, cool and extra protected. Many vests, such as this Venture 12V Heated Motorcycle Vest, can easily go under a jacket and have heating pads that will help your jacket in keeping you warm. If heating pads just aren't enough, there are many different types of electrically heated vests as well. These vests often come with various heat settings which can be controlled by a unit that is attachable to something such as your thigh.

Other vests are made with a lightweight fabric that can be soaked in water and worn under a mesh jacket in the heat in order to help your body release warmth. Some under- vests are great for giving you an extra bit of protection. This Alpinestars Track Motorcycle Vest is perfect for wearing under your jacket during track racing. Since crashes during track races tend to be at high speeds, having another layer of armor never hurts and this vest is so lightweight that you'll hardly know it's there.

Motorcycle vests have tons of different helpful uses ranging from keeping you comfortable to keeping you safe. And pairing them with your favorite jacket can only multiply the amount of things you can do with them. Whether you're riding a chopper or playing in nature on an off-road bike, a good vest is a must have in your motorcycle gear arsenal.




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