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Reviewed: Eight top-tier vests to take you through fall

Rapha Hi-Vis Gilet

Pros: Styling, wind and water resistant, packable, excellent pockets, highly visible
Cons: Styling, no added insulation, pricey
Retail: $160

The Hi-Vis Gilet isn’t really designed as a high-performance vest; it’s for cutting through the dark, being seen during nighttime rides, commutes, or unexpected showers.

It’s certainly functional — the two rear pockets are large and well placed and the plastic-feeling main fabric (100-percent polyester with a DWR finish, according to Rapha’s website) is completely windproof and waterproof. But that material doesn’t breath particularly well, and the mesh shoulders and mid-back were not enough to keep us cool when the pressure was on.

Fit is well done. The Hi-Vis is tailored to fit well in the riding position, cut slim, with a very long tail to keep spray off your rear. The mesh back stretches quite a bit, allowing the vest to be layered over everything from a thin jersey to a thick jacket while still fitting comfortably.

We appreciated the off-center zipper and zipped valuables pocket, as well as the highly reflective logos and reflective center strip.

For an all-day affair, or a hard group ride, we’d take the Panache or Assos vests reviewed here, or Rapha’s own lightweight Gilet. The Hi-Vis’ greatest strength, unsurprisingly, lies in its visibility, so for dark commutes, or as an emergency layer when dark rainclouds threaten, it is an excellent alternative to the traditional neon-yellow monstrosity.