We take a wind vest as a given. Every cyclist should have one. It’s an essential piece of every team kit. It’s so intrinsic that we’ve ceased giving them any thought; kind of like socks. We have socks. We wear them. We have wind vests. We wear them. We’ve got spares when one is in the wash. We’ve never worn one out or wrecked one. Thinking about either socks or vests is like, in the words of Omar Little in The Wire, is like worrying the sun’s gonna come up in the morning.
Adding the Giordana FormaRed Carbon Compactible Wind Vest to our vest collection got us thinking, as we had never possessed a blank one before. Up ’til now, the first quality of any vest was that it had our team or club name across it. Second was that it come reasonably close to fitting.
Now this. The FormaRed Carbon vest incredibly light and thin. When we picked up the Ziploc bag the vest came in, it felt pretty much like we were picking up the bag with a piece or two of tissue paper inside. And the scale backs this feeling up: 80g. And stuffing the vest into the attached 9cmx11cm stuff sack was really easy.
Our team vests are all heavier and bulkier. Not that they don’t work. They’re still pretty light and stuff into a jersey pocket. Of the two criteria, the size issue is the more valuable. A vest that stuffs smaller is better for those days when we’re already stuffing our pockets with food, drink, and gear.
Giordana’s FormaRed line is supposed to be about fit. Hence the BodyClone designation on top of Forma in the name. Considering that most vests are on the baggy side, designing a vest to fit better shouldn’t be hard. Somehow, pro bike riders seem to have vests that fit snugly. As we all know, baggy clothing, particularly clothing that is made of wind-proof material, seems to catch lots of wind, particularly when unzipped. We’ve long figured the key is using a stretchy mesh for the back.
The vest is trim; we went for our normal jersey size, which is small, and it seems to fit “true to size” insofar as we’re concerned. Giordana has achieved this without having stretch panels for windproof material and without a particularly stretchy back. The wind panels have no stretch whatsoever. The mesh back seems to have limited directional stretch; there is significantly more side-to-side stretch than top-to-bottom stretch. It seems that the key to fit is smarter paneling. Whereas many wind vests are two front panels that wrap around your shoulders and sides, there are separate front panels, side panels, shoulder panels, and an isosceles trapezoid behind the neck and connecting the shoulder panels.
Standing up, the fit feels close without being snug. Hammering on the drops with elbows bent, it does catch a little bit of wind around the armholes, but not like a loose vest or a half-zipped jacket. We feel some flapping, but it is only distracting because perfection is what we were hoping for.
Unzipping it we occasionally experience the only material drawback we could find in the garment. There’s a draft flap behind the zipper made of the same thin, windproof material as the front of the vest. Once in a while, the ultra-thin material gets caught in the zipper.
The second drawback is the usefulness of the attached stuff sack. Most of our vests don’t have a pocket, so we weren’t planning on using it as a pocket. And didn’t, other as a stuff sack. All the same, that the pocket is arrayed so the opening is facing back seems less than ideal. Even if you use the drawstring and cord lock to cinch something in there, we wouldn’t have too much confidence in the item staying put. At least if the pocket was arrayed so the opening was at the top when standing up, we’d feel that gravity might hold it a bit better.
A matter for debate is the color. Black is hip, arty, au courant, and the “New York SKU,” so known for the popularity of black cycling over garments for cyclists living in New York City. It hides dirt well and has a slimming effect, too. While we know the Flo Green is not hip, clashes with everything and has the stain of the late 1980’s, and often holds dirt, it does stand out more. If that could contribute to our safety, that would be a very good thing.
As we wrote in the beginning, we take a wind vest as a given. This Giordana FormaRed Carbon Compactible Wind Vest is now the new given.