Silver Eagle Cooling Vest
Cooling Vests Page
It's only been within the last couple
of years that motorcycle clothing manufacturers have finally started
to produce clothing suitable for very warm weather. This is
surprising, since the vast majority of motorcycle riding takes place
during the summer months.
years apparel manufacturers have been focused solely on producing a single set of
clothing that would "do it all".
The problem is that
unlike the motorcycle riding neighbors of the Jetsons, we don't
yet have the technology that allows a single garment
to work in a range of 30 degrees to
90 F., or that will provide cooling air flow while still being waterproof.
The result? Our typically bulky jackets and pants with "breathable"
waterproof liners (vastly overrated) and zip-out insulating inserts.
To stay comfortable with seasonal temperature change, you still need
separate clothing ensembles. Until just about a year or two ago,
there was also the added problem of a distinct lack
of clothing suitable for riding in really hot temperatures.
many motorcyclists can't afford to purchase multiple outfits for various
niche weather patterns, so other than the odd day when you just happen
to own a set of comfortable clothing, you had to make do with whatever
Although I guess I shouldn't complain --
back when I started riding, life was simple (and so were we!).
Jeans, T-shirt and maybe work boots in the summer; add a leather
"bomber" jacket found at the local thrift shop, and there was your
summer and winter riding outfit!
The recent trend towards highly breathable fabrics
that still offer a modicum of crash protection for summer use has really
opened up a whole new outlook on hot weather riding. It helps that
these new products are relatively inexpensive, which provides
motorcyclists the potential of affording two sets of riding apparel, one
for winter and one for summer.
Some chemists or scientists somewhere must be hard at
work on developing new technologies for human comfort in hot weather,
because it seems as if a lot of new products are being released that can
help us keep cool.
One of these new technologies is the ability of a special fabric to hold
water and then slowly release it as a gas to provide an evaporative cooling
Eagle Outfitters offers many different types of garments using the
Hydroweave technology that provides this effect. Their vests, hats, and other products are used in the
construction industry, by motorcyclists, hunters, equestrians and
anyone else who needs comfort in temperature extremes.
If you're going to ride in really hot
weather, the Silver Eagle vest offers
an interesting way to keep cool.
In the past, I've sometimes avoided riding in the heat of the day,
because even with one of the mesh jackets, it can be too darn hot to
enjoy the ride. This is especially true in the southern U.S.A.,
where winter is the preferred riding season.
The Silver Eagle vest must be "activated"
to obtain the desired cooling effect. To activate the vest, it must be soaked in cool
water. Silver Eagle Outfitters suggests two ways of doing this.
The "package activation method" involves placing water in a plastic bag
and soaking the vest for 15 minutes. The vest comes with a
"Zip-lock" plastic bag for this purpose. The instructions suggest
placing no more than 16 ounces of water in the bag and then inserting
the vest. This method minimizes the amount of excess water that
might drip from the vest, but takes a bit of time.
I use the "submersion method", which is a bit easier
to manage. I place the vest in a spaghetti pot of cool water for about 5
minutes (minus the pasta, of course!), then gently wring out the excess moisture and wipe down the
Silver Eagle claims that the vest can't be
over-soaked, but the submersion method seems to allow the vest to soak
up as much water as possible and provide the greatest amount of cooling
time when the vest is worn. We have a nice, deep well that throws
out cool tap water, which works well for activating the vest. But
Silver Eagle Outfitters also suggests placing the vest in the
refrigerator after activation but prior to wearing it for an even better
It does take a while to get used to the feeling of
the damp vest on your body; it feels a bit "icky" at first. It's not actually
as soaking wet as, for example, a wet
T-shirt (which is a pretty yucky feeling!), but it does feel damp.
The evaporative effect
really starts to work as air flows over the vest; note that this type of
garment is not designed to work under a jacket
with poor airflow. I wear the Silver Eagle vest under a
or Firstgear mesh jacket, and the cooling effect is pretty dramatic once
We've had one of the coolest and wettest springs on
record here in the Mid-Atlantic, so it wasn't until the end of June that
the weather finally warmed up enough to fully appreciate what the vest
can do. A couple of 90+ degree days with heavy humidity gave it a
The cooling effect is very noticeable up to about
the first 2 hours and can definitely make a difference. One day, as I was
riding, I passed some people sitting barefoot under a shade tree, waving
fans in their faces. It was a hot day; too hot to be active.
But I felt fine, and it kind of gave me a chuckle.
The Silver Eagle vest also provides a bit of warmth
when its not activated. It works well in the spring and fall when
you need just a touch of warmth under a jacket. When the vest is
dry, it folds up into a pretty small package, so it's easy (and handy)
to carry on the bike to use in the evening. Of course, it's also
handy to have during travel, as you can soak it in cool water just about
anywhere when you need the cooling effect. It seems to take about
a full 24 hours for the vest to completely dry out. Silver Eagle
suggests that you don't store the vest in a sealed container or bag
unless it's completely dry.
I usually take about a size 43-44 men's jacket, and
Silver Eagle Outfitters recommended an XL sized vest. It fits
well, with just enough room for movement. It's important to make
sure the fit is correct, so that the vest will stay near your body to
provide the correct cooling effect. Silver Eagle has a variety of
sizes and vest designs, so you'll probably find one that fits.
The vest also has a decently hefty zipper up the front. The zipper
is plastic, and the pull tab and slider is metal. There are
also two short pockets (photo right, above), which come in handy for
small items like earplugs. The recent photos of this vest on the
Silver Eagle website don't show zippered pockets, so they may have been
discontinued on this model. The vest also has adjustment tabs on
each side, which have a button snap that allows 35mm (1-3/8") lateral
The vest illustrated in
these photos is really designed for construction workers, so the back is
a bit longer than you need for motorcycling, but I had no problems
either folding it over to fit under a short motorcycling jacket or
stuffing it under the back waistband of my riding pants.
So if you live or ride where it gets
really, really hot and humid, the Silver Eagle vest may work as well for
you. The price is reasonable, especially considering that it can
also be useful in cool weather. Don't forget that the vest can
also keep you cool for non-motorcycling activities too!
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Review: Motorcycle Cooling Vest
From: Silver Eagle Outfitters
Retail Price: $40.00
other models available in various colors
Comments: Water activated to allow
evaporative cooling while you ride. Works nicely in hot
weather, especially when humid. Works with airflow over vest. A single soaking lasts 2 hours or
more. A T-shirt should be worn underneath; you'll feel
damp, but the cooling factor really helps. The vest also
provides some insulation in cool weather. Available in
various designs and colors. Women's styles and sizes