Next month I’m racing my bike across Michigan’s U.P. from Copper Harbor to Marquette on “enhanced” gravel roads. It’s a 230-mile death march across the Keweenaw Peninsula and will require some special gear. In fact, there’s a required gear list that includes a jacket or vest. My NBFs at Kitsbow recently sent me a Wind Vest to put through the wringer. I figured this event will provide a great opportunity to see if their gillet measures up to the brand’s amazing reputation. I’ll be following up with a deeper review later this year but, here’s our first look.
My initial observation is how incredibly lightweight this vest is. Sure, it’s a vest. It’s light. But this is really light and tucks itself into the chest pocket to stow away when not needed. I’ll be packing a lot of gear for this race, so any opportunity to cut down on weight is a bonus. I wear a medium in most items and this fit perfect. Sometimes cycling items are cut too low in the front, but this item is proportionally perfect with a little drop on the tail to keep the back end covered a bit.
There are two unique features of this vest to highlight starting with the side zip. Most vests have a little zippered flap to access your back pockets. I’ve got big hands and find those little access zippered flaps an annoyance. The folks at Kitsbow must agree because they decided to offer a generous side zip that runs from the base of the hem up the side of the vest fully exposing your pockets. To be honest I found the zipper a little tricky one handed while on the bike. Maybe this will improve over time as I get used to it.
The other unique feature of the vest is an asym front zipper. Unlike most vests and jackets where the zipper runs up the center from navel to chin, the Kitsbow Wind Vest’s zipper starts in the center at the bottom, but angles away from the chin at the top of the collar. I thought this was simply a cosmetic choice, but I realized later that zipper handles can poke you in the chin and neck when fully zipped. This design moves the zipper away from your chin to avoid that issue. I found myself fumbling a bit to unzip the vest on the bike because I kept reaching to where I expected the zipper to be. Similar to the side zipper, this will take a little time, but I don’t think it’s a poor design choice.
Summer took its sweet time to get to the St. Croix River valley this season. With so many cool days I had a chance to give this vest a few rides. I like to get out early in the day so having a vest is a great solution for days when temps start in the 50s, but warm before noon. So far the Kitsbow Wind Vest has proven to be a great addition to my clothing collection and I look forward to giving it a workout. More to follow…
For more information about Kitsbow visit –https://www.kitsbow.com/
The side zipper also makes it easier to chomp down on the fabric for one handed unzipping