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Spidi H1 Life Vest

Spidi H1 Life Vest wBW Quick Look

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 not.

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?” 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 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 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 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 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 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.

wBW Product Review: Spidi H1 Life Vest

Available From:  Spidi Suggested Retail Price:  £89.99
Colors: High-visibility yellow Made In:  Unknown
Review Date: October 2009


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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 pockets only?

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 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 purposes.

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.”