Lightweight vest is a "4-in-1" deal with high
visibility; reflectivity; a built-in back protector and four pockets!
Easy to use, easy to wear, comfortable...and a great idea!
We've reviewed some interesting high-visibility clothing items
over the years. Some were specifically
designed for motorcycling, while others were
But we're always on the lookout for unique products that might be
useful to motorcyclists, no matter where they come from.
Here's a very interesting piece of reflective gear that
actually was designed specifically for motorcycling and it's a
real winner! And surely it fits into the "Why didn't I think of that?"
The Spidi H1 Life Vest starts out with a Spidi Warrior back
protector, but the twist is in the packaging. This back protector is designed to be worn over a motorcycle
jacket, rather than under.
The packaging, if you will, is a
high-visibility vest that takes its cues from the (so-called) "Mil-Spec" orange and yellow vests
that have recently become popular with motorcyclists made by Icon and others. The Spidi H1 Life Vest combines
the visibility and reflectivity of a motorcycle reflective vest and adds protection and
utility, in the form of four separate pockets.
The utility factor is important, and it may be the hook
convinces riders who might not normally wear a reflective vest to do so. Spidi
said that the H1 vest was developed with the 3M company to help improve rider
visibility and safety, and adding the pockets definitely puts a new spin on things.
The Spidi H1 vest comes in one size and it doesn't weigh very much at only 455 grams (1.0 pound). Put it on and it pretty much
disappears into the background from the rider's point of view, but hopefully
other drivers will indeed take notice.
The back side of the vest is dominated by the high-visibility
yellow/green fabric and four big reflective patches (seen as the silver wedges
in the photos).
The front side of the vest is comparatively bare, with only the
belt, chest straps and around-the-shoulder straps. Some of the high-viz
material peeks over the top of the shoulder, along with a sliver of the 3M reflective
Front pockets, belt and belt loop.
The rear pockets slide back and forth on the
belt to the position of your choosing.
Rear-facing part of the Spidi back protector (L)
and the side facing the rider (R).
Spidi H1 Life Vest Pockets
So far, so good. But here's where it gets interesting: the Spidi H1 vest
includes two small pockets in front and two larger pockets in back. It
gives the vest a quasi-military load-carrying suspender look.
The front pockets are permanently attached to the chest
connector, which has a single zipper up the middle to secure the vest across the
rider's body. The left-hand front pocket zips across the top, while the
pocket opens along the top and one side for wide-mouth access.
These pockets are handy for carrying little things like a cell
phone, ID card and maybe a wallet or change purse for tolls. The zipper
pulls are big enough to find even when wearing gloves and the front pockets are
right out there in the open, very easy to access. They don't appear to be
waterproof however, so a Ziploc bag may be in order.
The two rear pockets mount to the waist belt, similar to the way a
cell phone holder slides over a street belt.
Each rear pocket has a flap that surrounds the belt, then secures the pocket with
Velcro and two snaps on the inside. Since the belt slides through the
pocket flaps, these pockets can be moved around from front to rear as desired.
When riding solo, I find that it best to keep them in the rear where they travel unnoticed.
The rear pockets offer relatively easy access if the pocket is
first pushed around to the front or side. The front pockets on the H1 Life Vest are easy to access,
although difficult to see when wearing a helmet, but I think
they're more useful even than jacket pockets.
Although I usually try to
minimize the amount of junk I carry -- especially hard stuff that could poke me
in the ribs if I fall -- it's so easy to stuff things in these pockets that I've
found myself all of a sudden carrying more gizmos than I really need.
Video: Spidi H1 Life Vest
Sizing and Fit
I had my doubts at first about the
one-size-fits-all approach to the H1 Life Vest,
but the model shown in the photo is a definite
size XL and he's wearing a thick Fieldsheer
3/4-length jacket that's currently in the
evaluation process, and the vest fits him with
no problems. In fact, there's still a bit more
room in the waist belt and chest adjusters, so
the H1 vest will probably fit up to an XXL size
The belt has an easy-to-use plastic buckle up front, covered by
a small tube of what feels like neoprene, which slides over the buckle to keep
it from scratching the tank. The loose end of the buckle fits in a belt
loop or it can also be tucked under the pocket.
Sounds good, right? Well, the Spidi H1 Life Vest has one
more trick up its sleeve: it includes a Spidi "Warrior" back protector,
which fits in a zippered pocket in the rear! OK, so maybe it's not a
Forcefield Pro Sub
4 (review) level protection, but "it's better than a sharp stick in
the eye", as we say around here.
The back protector actually meets the Level 1 standard and the pocket it
slides into is mesh, so the waffle-like surface of the protector sort of acts as
a styling touch, you could say.
I'm not sure what might happen if the
rider does go sliding down the road on the old backside; I'd have to assume the
asphalt will eat through the mesh in a matter of seconds (or less), although
Spidi says the mesh is up to the task . But at
least it should cushion the initial impact, and any back protection is probably
100% better than none.
I like multiple-use tools; I like gear that's easy to use and stays out of my
way until I need it; and I like ingenuity and the Spidi H1 Life Vest has it all.
If this is what it takes to get riders to combine good
visibility with utility and maybe even some back protection, I couldn't think of
a better way to do it.
I'd guess that Spidi and 3M had the same idea when they
developed the H1 Life Vest. Spidi has staked out a market niche with their
Spidi "Safety Lab" line of protective gear, with cool items like their Airbag
DPS 03 jacket. The Spidi H1 Life Vest is definitely worth a look.
Comments are ordered from most recent to oldest.
Not all comments will be published (details). Comments may be edited for
clarity prior to publication.
From "B.Z." (10/09): "I just read the review
and I wanted to ask a couple of clarifying things.
1) The rear/side pockets - I am assuming from the way you
describe them that they are removable if desired?
Editor's Reply: Yes, this is
demonstrated in the video.
2) The closure for the chest under those front pockets, not
exactly pictured, is it such that the zipper between the 2
pockets is required for an integral part of securing the whole
unit, or is it such that the zipper for the pockets is for the
Editor's Reply: The front chest
zipper is integral to the vest and it opens the front of the
vest, also demonstrated in the video.
3) The pocket for the back protector, is it sized for ONLY that
protector, or could it possibly be replaced with an upgraded or
Editor's Reply: It's sized for
the Spidi Warrior, but it's possible that other back protectors
might fit; I'm not sure. We discussed the issue of
standardizing back protector sizes in other webBikeWorld
articles. Although probably not possible for every type of
back protector, we'd like to see motorcycle clothing
manufacturers develop a standard size/shape for one or more back
protectors and then make the pocket in all motorcycle jackets to
fit that standard.
4) In regards to the front pockets, how much flapping from wind
do these seem to experience or catch?
Editor's Reply: The front
pockets are not removable and they're tight to the harness.
I haven't noticed any problems with them when riding.
5) I think the military vests that you refer to are marketed to
the requirements for military personnel for how much
safety/reflective material they have to have on them while on a
motorcycle in uniform or on base. I think there is a
minimum required number of square inches of these type of
materials, and I wonder how close this vest comes to these
Editor's Reply: The "Mil-Spec"
vests I'm referring to are the vests with that name sold by
Icon, Yoshimura and others. These are not true "Mil-Spec"
products; the companies use that terminology for marketing
Anyway, thanks as usual for your diligent discoveries and
reviews of some of the most fantastic garments and equipment
available to our motorcycling habit, whether recreational or