Not all vests are created with riding in mind. From a company like Club Ride that blends lifestyle and riding, sometimes leaning a little too heavy to the lifestyle end of the spectrum, I was glad to see a piece that was more on the riding end while still keeping the off-the-bike nerd factor in check.
The Blaze features a simple, largely-windproof polyester woven rip-stop fabric with 80g/m synthetic insulation on the front and a mid-weight brushed polyester back panel. While the back is pretty breathable, if it gets wet it sort of stays wet so don’t wear a backpack with it. During a couple single digit overnighters this piece had a great in-the-sleeping-bag feel because the lack of down on the back and the stretchy back panel. I could twist and turn without it strangling my arms.
While the vest was first designed to be worn under a coat, I preferred to wear this vest with a long sleeve woolie or single base layer underneath. I tend to run a little on the warm side, so pairing it with a shell was overkill for anything above 10 degrees fahrenheit on the trails or 25 degrees on the road.
Unfortunately, during a mid-December ride in the single digits I went to unzip the small breast pocket and it just sort of unglued itself. After talking to Mike of Club Ride, he said this was an issue they had with some of the early samples and have since addressed with an improved bonding agent. While the defective vest was a fixable issue, Mike wanted to assure us that it was just an issue with the first few samples and sent the final production version. Fingers crossed but no issues yet.
While on the topic of zippers–this piece needs some zipper pull infusion. Like long dangly zipper pulls. I threaded a small section of shoelace through to solve this issue. But any apparel designed to be worn in cold weather ought to have a sizeable zipper pull. This also goes for the breast pocket. Because gloves.
The rear stash pockets tend to be a little bit droopy so be careful when stashing any items; I had a glove jump out on me and probably wouldn’t be to inclined to stash a phone or anything like that back there. Fortunately, for most phones without large cases, the front pocket has a media port (wired headphone thruway) if you ride with headphones.
As far as sizing goes, the Blaze vest seems to run was a little on the snug side. I went with an XL with the intent of wearing some heavier layers under it and was glad I did.
Overall, the vest held up just fine after three months of riding gravel, snow, and trails. While there are certainly more expensive mid-weight riding vests out there, this relatively light and compact vest is a great option. Owning a vest is like owning a shell–you probably only really need one so give this one a look if you like riding bikes and hanging out after.
Sizes: Small, Medium, Large, X-Large (tested)