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

  • By Caley Fretz and Logan VonBokel
  • Published Oct. 24, 2013
The Panache 13 is one of the best all-around vests we've ever used. It's wind resistant, warm, breathes well, has three big pockets, and still packs down to a decent size. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com

Panache 13 Wind Vest

Pros: Windproof, warm, three big pockets, excellent zipper, perfect fit
Cons: Expensive, lacks water resistance, average packability
Retail: $160

The 13 Wind Vest is the best all-around, daily-use vest we’ve ever used.

In fact, it is one of the few we’ve found that is just as comfortable and versatile as Assos’ pricey falkenZahn. The 13’s fabric is a bit lighter, so it’s not quite as warm, but that’s not a real detriment; it just shifts the useable temperate up about 5 degrees. The 13 is still the second warmest vest in this collection.

The 13 is half the price of the luxurious Swiss option, but sadly, the Assos vest is so expensive that even lopping 50 percent off the price leaves Panache in the “pricey” category.

Like the falkenZahn, the 13 is a vest that can be worn comfortably all day. Three big pockets, larger than most jersey pockets, make it versatile and well suited to winter riding. There’s plenty of room for a set of spare gloves, an extra hat, or a pile of food for those long base miles.

The WinterBlock fabric is not particularly water resistant, though it does a good job of maintaining its thermal warmth even when soaked through. It is highly wind resistant, on par with Pearl Izumi’s Elite Aero vest.

Fit is phenomenal, perfectly cut for the riding position. The shoulders — often a problem area with vest fit — are tailored to stay flat. The back is a thinner mesh material, improving breathability and adding a bit of stretch. That stretch kept fabric taught against the torso, eliminating flapping and bunching.

The zipper hits the ideal spot between bulky durability and finesse. It’s easy to get started and has never, in an entire year of use, split or gotten stuck.

Packability is average; it will fit in a jersey pocket, but with little room to spare. The 13 is no emergency vest. Like the falkenZahn, it’s intended to be worn for most of the day.

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