By Colin Dennis
Size tested: M
Main fabric: 100% Polyamide
Mesh inserts: 85% Polyamide/15% Elastane
From the German masters of outdoor clothing and equipment, the Vaude Air Vest is a stylishly designed lightweight and protective gilet that features a first-class build quality that punches way above its price point.
Always the bridesmaid and never the bride, yet a good quality gilet should never be overlooked as an essential item in your cycle clothing armoury. Offering essential protection to the core area of your body, a quality gilet, such as the Vaude Air Vest allows versatility when either you, or indeed the weather can’t make up its mind.
Best known in the UK for their range of tents and camping equipment, Vaude may not be the first name on your list when it comes to what is already an overcrowded cycle clothing market, but in Germany, and throughout Europe, Vaude are huge, and rightly so, the quality and construction of the Air Vest is faultless. It’s a little roomy for a medium, but clothing generally reflects on the country of origin. A medium from Italy would be a tight fit indeed.
That said, the Vaude Air Vest feels comfortable without being baggy and certainly never pulls tight across the shoulders or back. There’s enough room to fit a thicker long sleeve jersey and/or baselayer when autumn sets in.
The tightly woven fabric construction keeps the wind out but lets the Air Vest breathe when working hard, it may not be waterproof, but wind is the real killer when out on your bike and the Vaude Air Vest provides super-lightwieght protection without compromising on performance as a barrier against the elements.
A large area of the back of the Air Vest is taken up by the highly breathable mesh. This helps whisk away any build-up of sweat and certainly adds to its overall effectiveness and performance.
The narrow full length zip runs smoothly every time and is finished off with a discrete zipper garage at the neckline. The neck collar itself sits reasonably high and affords plenty of wind protection when you need to batten down the hatches.
I particularly liked the elasticated finishing around the arms and waistline. The distinctive black and white Vaude logos stands out a treat against the glowing red colour way of our test gilet. I have to say that the colour is more deep orange than a fiery red, but looks terrific anyhow.
Meanwhile, down at the shallow tail, there’s a handy good-sized, slanted pocket for small items like gels or such. The pocket is unzipped to help keep the overall weight of the Air Vest down, so maybe not keep the crown jewels there!
The rear pocket is also bracketed by some welcome reflective strips to enhance your visibility on the road. This orangy, glowing red colour is high-vis itself without being self-conscious. It’s been my gilet of choice throughout this on and off summer and it very kindly packs down to hankie-size should the sun pop its head out.
In summary: the lightweight Vaude Air Vest has proved its worth many fold during this damp and often windy summer, so in terms of flexibility and added protection in the so called warmer months, it can’t be faulted.
Add to that, the superb build quality and lightness of construction, as a performance item of cycling apparel, the Vaude Air Vest will certainly appeal to a wide range of road, touring, and off-road cyclists.
Maybe the Vaude Air Vest isn’t quite close-fitting enough for those win-at-all-costs aero fit types, but it’s certainly a no-brainer garment for the competitive sportive rider in us all.