When I purchased my vest two months ago, the owner of our shop said that I picked the most important article of cycling clothing one can buy for enjoying fall cycling. He wasn’t kidding. Vests can create and solve a lot of problems at the same time, though if you choose the right one you can win all the way around.
Mine is made by Louis Garneau and has a nylon, windproof front and a mesh back. This may seem a little counterintuitive when you’re looking to stay warm but the truth is, all of the cold comes from the front. With the mesh, a lot of moisture is let out the back so it keeps the sweating to a minimum, which in turn helps keep me warm. If you’re reading this thinking, “yeah right”, you’re not alone. That’s exactly what I thought when I was laying the cash down for mine. I can tell you right now, arm warmers, a short-sleeved jersey, a light long-sleeved jersey and my vest and I’m good all the way down to the mid-30’s. I lose the long-sleeve for 50+ degrees and the arm warmers too for 60-65 degrees. The mesh back works.
With that out of the way, there’s one more important thing to look at when you’re buying a vest: Pockets. Mine has three deep pockets, so I’ve got the three from my jersey for things I probably won’t need (spare tube, pump, tire levers, etc.) and the three in the back for more important needs (food, phone, a spare pocket for gloves or my hat if it warms up…). I’ve seen a lot of vests out there and after having one with pockets (and having several friends comment on how cool it is that my vest has them), I would never want one without.
If you want to ride comfortably in the cold, may I humbly suggest a decent vest. They’re worth every penny. Mine made this fall vastly more enjoyable than the last two – and spring will be a lot less daunting when it rolls around too.