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

  • By Caley Fretz and Logan VonBokel
  • Published Oct. 24, 2013
  • Updated Oct. 30, 2014 at 5:31 PM EDT
If visibility is your goal, the Rapha Hi-Vis will not disappoint. The front fabric is windproof and waterproof, and the fit is good, but the mesh back panels are not enough to make up for the overall lack of breathability. Photo: Caley Fretz |

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.

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