Vests are often an afterthought when the reality is, they’re your most versatile piece of weather gear. A good vest can handle a range of climatic annoyances without the bulk, overkill or expense of a jacket.
Unless you ride through sub-zero Minnesota winters or train high up in the Swiss Alps at 6am, a top-notch vest plus arm and knee warmers will get you through a good part of the year.
This brings us to the jack-of-all-vests, the Sugoi Zap. Billed as a versatile, all-conditions vest, the Zap has more than proven itself over the last few months.
Weather this time of year in Northern California practically guarantees a wind coming off the ocean. Rides that begin in sunshine in the valley turn to fog and wind and rain up on the ridgeline. An ideal testing ground for what a vest should do best.
First off, the Zap does the lock-down to perfection. We found the two adjustable shock-cords cinch the bottom of the vest tight. While a simple design, that cord pinch worked so well we had to loosen it a bit so we could reach in the back jersey pocket for a gel. That makes the zip pocket in back and one on front even more handy. Room for gel, mobile phone and a outlet hole for the ipod earbuds.
The collar is another area where the Zap makes its best qualities known. The inside is lined with a soft brushed fabric that adds comfort and warmth. No more clammy sweat on bare nylon. It’s also high enough to pull the collar up over your chin. It’s a technique we use on long cold descents — once over the chin, we slide our jaw slightly forward to seal the neck completely.
Speaking of closure, the elastic on the armholes also performs well in shutting out the elements. We’d actually vote for even tighter elastic but we’re fanatic about fitted gear. While you can’t ever eliminate wind flap, the Zap keeps the noise way down.
Rear ventilation is good with an industrial looking punch-hole back panel. We’ve ridden with the Zap for months without ever feeling hot and bothered. A nice-sized zipper that tracks up and down effortlessly also makes on-board thermo-regulation a simple task. This is really a multi-platform vest that’s just as happy going for a fast run as a hard ride.
We’ve been caught in more than a few showers and found the Zap kept our jersey dry. Vests aren’t made for downpours but anything less is more than handled. Bonus: the Sugoi fabric seems to dry out quickly.
While we’re not big night riders, this vest will have you lit up with 3M Scotchlite bands front and back and down the zipper. Any driver that can’t see you will qualify as legally blind.
Any hitches? The pattern design of the two-tone black and grey fabric looks a little haphazard. We’d have preferred a cleaner line and one color. But that’s just our palette.
Overall, the Zap is most everything you’d want in a vest. That versatility will take you far and you’ll still be warm and dry when you arrive.