Summary: 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!
Background We've reviewed some interesting high-visibility
clothing items over the years. Some were specifically designed
for motorcycling, while others were not.
But we're always on the lookout for unique products that
might be useful to motorcyclists, no matter where they come
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?" category too?
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
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
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 material.
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
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 right-hand 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.
wBW 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 rider.
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
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.
Conclusion 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.
From "B.Z." (10/09): "I
just read the review and I wanted to ask a couple of
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.
The pocket for the back protector, is it sized for ONLY
that protector, or could it possibly be replaced with
an upgraded or other protector?
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 requirements.
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 otherwise."