Pearl Izumi P.R.O Aero vest
There are four qualities important in a vest: wind resistance, water resistance, packability, and fit. The P.R.O. Aero vest passes all with flying colors. $110 is a bit ridiculous for a vest though; is this thing really worth it?
Depends on which of those four you place the most emphasis on. Fit is my first priority with a vest, an item I often only throw on for long descents. Long descents mean high speeds; high speeds mean any flappy bits are even more annoying than usual. As a pretty lean guy (let’s just call it “racer build”), I’m continuously at war with flappy clothing.
If you, like me, have a “racer build” and hate flappy clothing, the P.R.O Aero vest is worth every shiny penny. It uses a stretchy material and race-cut fit to drastically reduce flaps and folds. Even the collar is tapered to fit the neck better when in an aggressive position.
Amazingly, that stretchy fabric still provides entirely excellent wind and water protection. This isn’t a thermal vest: it’s just one thin layer, but for keeping wind out that’s all you need. It easily adds 10˚ to any garment setup. I add it to thick thermal gear to provide some wind protection, or to a jersey and shorts to make an early fall descent a bit more comfortable.
Packability is second to none. Some vests can get really tiny if you sit down and carefully fold the thing, but when wadded up in a fist they take up quite a bit of room. The Aero vest scrunches up tiny and stuffs easily in a pocket.
Speaking of pockets, the P.R.O. Aero vest doesn’t have any. That’s my only problem with it. But I’m always wearing something with pockets underneath, so it’s not really a big deal.
The scoop: super light, super packable, stretchy fabric eliminates flapping, excellent race-cut tailoring.