For fall and spring bicycling, layers are the name of the game. Cyclists might start out on a ride early in the morning where the temperatures are down in the low 40s, but it’s 70 degrees by the time they finish the ride a few hours later.
Vests are one of the best options for cyclists during these changing conditions. They’re easy to zip and unzip to allow more airflow, and to take off and stuff in the back of a jersey (or bring along for later) to give more options in changing weather.
Here are some of the top cycling vests of this season.
Castelli Thermal Pro Vest
This vest is interesting because of what it doesn’t do. It isn’t windproof. Sometimes when you’re working hard in cooler weather, a vest that blocks the wind will cause you to overheat. But just a thin jersey isn’t enough to keep warm. This Castelli jersey works as an additional layer that still lets some wind come through, so cyclists can keep wearing it when the cycling gets fast, without overheating. It has three back pockets, a YKK Vislon zipper, and reflective strips for visibility. Also comes in fluorescent yellow.
Find it on Amazon. https://amzn.to/2MQENIB
Castelli Superleggera Vest
The Superleggera vest from Castelli is made from Japanese fabric with a durable weather repellent coating that keeps cyclists drier when it’s damp, but isn’t completely waterproof. Breathable side panels keep it ventilated for warmer temperatures. The front and rear reflectivity will be perfect for those low-visibility rides. It’s perfect for packing into a pocket when it’s time to shed the extra layer.
Find it on Amazon. https://amzn.to/31X8TP2
Garneau Speedzone X-lite Cycling Vest
Garneau’s Speedzone X-lite vest is a cost-effective ultra-lightweight option. It has a DWR waxed finish so it’s durable and water repellent, not to mention it’s easy to store in a pocket or into the built-in collar pocket. Its durability is enhanced with the nylon weave ripstop construction. It has reflective accents for visibility.
Find it on Amazon. https://amzn.to/2BMoBSr
Specialized Men’s Deflect Wind Vest
The fabric for this Specialized Deflect Wind vest is super stretchy with a tight fit so it doesn’t flap in the wind. One big downside is it only comes in black, so visibility will be decreased. The fabric is wind- and water-resistant. A full-length zipper will help provide extra ventilation for higher temperatures. This vest also comes in a high viz color for about $10 more.
Rapha Pro Team Lightweight Vest
Rapha makes high end gear and this vest is no exception. It features well thought out details like a zipper that unzips from both sizes. It also has reflective elements, venting, and silicone gripper to keep the bottom in place. Ventilation aspects like a mesh inner collar and perforation provide some breathability.
GORE C3 GORE Windstopper Light Vest
GORE knows all about changing temperatures, and this vest is a great example. Its WINDSTOPPER fabric is windproof, very breathable, and water repellent. Cyclists will enjoy pockets both in front and back. Reflective logo and piping will keep cyclists safer during low light rides. There are plenty of color choices for both reflectivity and personal preference.
Find it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2JrSCuM
Bontrager Circuit Windshell Vest
This water-resistant vest from Bontrager is self-packable in the chest pocket for easy stowage. It has a zipper chest pocket in front, but no pockets or pass through in back.
Pactimo Men’s Keystone Vest
This vest from Pactimo comes with plenty of options. It has three rear pockets as well as a two-way zipper. Its fabric is stretchy with DWR finish so cyclists can have the best of both worlds when it comes to durability and comfort. Additionally, this vest has plenty of reflective elements to increase visibility.
Pearl iZUMi Men’s PRO Barrier Lite Vest
Stretch panels create a slim fit for this vest from Pearl iZUMi. DWR-treated ripstop nylon makes this vest windproof and water resistant. Reflective elements will keep cyclists safe during low-light visibility. There’s also a stow pocket in the back into which the vest can be packed.
Find it on Amazon. https://amzn.to/2Pnd1VN
Proviz Reflect360 Men’s Cycling Vest
If reflectivity is high on the priority list, check this vest from Proviz out. Cyclists will be a beacon in any lighting conditions. Looks grey in daylight, but becomes a bright beacon of reflective white when a headlight shines on it. Cars will see you from blocks away. It may get a little toasty due to the thicker material, but this vest is also windproof and water resistant. And who doesn’t love pockets? This vest has two of ‘em!
With these great vests, there’s plenty of options whether reflectivity, warmth, fit, pockets, or durability is top of mind. When cyclists are in between seasons and need something not too hot and not too cold, vests are the perfect choice for transitional temperatures.
Dan Driscoll says
A spread sheet type comparison would be much more helpful. I’m very picky about my vests, and I’m the market for a new one.
A tall collar that is soft and warm inside.
A two way zipper.
A well vented back
Pockets on the back.
Do any of the above have all of these features ?
What Dan said.
Why would any vest or jacket not have a two way zipper? But they don’t!
Agree with Dan 100%.
A cycling vest designed with close attention to the details Dan describes is the most versatile and useful outer-layer garment you’ll own. (Combined with arm warmers, imho).
Unfortunately it seems most clothing designers are just manufacturing-cost-cutting experts and are not actually riding bikes in the weather where these features move from merely nice-to-have to essential for comfort and safety in temperatures under 65F/15C.
This article was more of a sales pitch than a product review. Definitely does not tell us which is best! Looks like you talked extensively to the marketing department, and not the bike riding public we pay you to serve? Whose interests are you representing here? Hint: not the Road Bike “Rider”? How is a “full-length zipper” a unique feature? Does any vest not have full length zipper? Is this a robot-generated journalism? A Copy-paste from manufacturers’ website is below the minimum standard we are expecting from this otherwise excellent website.
Why buy a vest when you can spend only a bit more money and get a jacket with zip-out (and zip-back-in) sleeves? If the temp climbs during a ride simply remove the sleeves and stow them in a back pocket of your jersey. I have been using such a jacket from Pearl Izumi (in screaming yellow color) for about 10 years and it is still going strong. It is quite light and rain resistant.
Road Bike Rider says
I own a Gore jacket that also has removable sleeves, but I find that the “vest” portion of the jacket is still considerably warmer than just a lightweight vest. My vest mostly just works to help block wind against my chest.
But that’s a great point if your jacket works well for you with the sleeves zipped on and off.
Oops, I failed to mention that my Pearl Izumi jacket has pockets large enough to stow its sleeves during a ride.
Sorry ’bout that.
Harth Huffman says
I’ve been wearing a Proviz vest on my commute for a few years, and it is a good choice for that use. Mine is an older model with no ventilation, so I get a lot of moisture buildup inside. But new models do have ventilation, so they would overcome my only big complaint. I would like a rear pocket, too. The fabric is durable and waterproof, but the visibility is unbeatable during dark morning commutes. With the venting, I would say it would be an outstanding product.
You should be calling out as #fails any cycling vest that does not have a two-way zipper.
If it doesn’t have double-zipper it simply isn’t a fully-functional cycling vest.
1) cyclists need access to the rear pockets on cycling jerseys
2) double-zips easily adjust for ventilation or heat retention during the different segments of a ride.
Many manufacturers have removed double-zips in the last few years (I’m looking at you Louis Garneau) as a cost-cutting exercise to see if we’d notice. We noticed! Please put the double zip back on your cycling vests.