Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Vested Interest

When the safetyline catalog came in the mail, my wife offered to buy me a new vest for Christmas. I have ridden with a light weight mesh safety vest for three years and like having the extra reflectivity. Although it has a single chest pocket, I always wished it had a few more pockets. Somewhere to temporarily put stuff like cliff bar wrappers, gel packets, gloves, sunglasses, mp3 player, gps, cell phone, hydration tablets, brevet card, pencil, car keys and chap stick. You know, the miscellaneous stuff. So since my wife offered to buy me another for Christmas, I splurged and ordered a surveyors vest with 13 pockets.

Back in the olden days, when I was a young timber cruiser, I would have driven to Omak for such a vest as this. With a few modifications, it would make a great vest for working in the woods. For bike riding, maybe not so much.

The company customized the vest for me by adding the reflective bike symbol on the back. It cost an extra $10 but it's a big patch of reflective material and it is transferred permanently onto the vest. I think it would have been better on the lower panel covering my butt, the area providing the most exposure and best orientation for approaching motorists. I could have sent them any symbol, the bike seamed like a good idea at the time.

The vest is a bit heavier than I would like. The inner pockets are lined with heavy abrasion resistant nylon and have full Velcro closures. I think most of the weight comes from the two inside pockets. They are perfect for holding clipboards or notebooks but not all that necessary for biking. The lower outside pockets have zipper closures that add a bit more safety for stowed objects. It has a large back pass-through pocket that works good. So far this winter I have used it to stuff my extra cold weather gear while hill climbing.

The vest sizing seams accurate. I ordered a size large since I tend to get a bit rotund during the winter. A medium might have been better for me. I ordered the vest on the phone and it arrived at my door several days later.

No, this isn't a paid advertisement for the company but the prices seam really good compared to what you'll probably find in a bike or auto parts store. My original vest currently sells for about $18 and the surveyors vest, with the extra reflective bike symbol, cost me about $42. My original vest will probably last forever and unlike Washington State license plates that loose their reflectivity every four years requiring their replacement, my old vest is still highly reflective and serviceable. No, this isn't extravagant consumerism, it is populist derived, economic stimulus.

So here is my only disclaimer: I would not carry all that much in the pockets and if you've every pancaked, flipped, end-over-ended, cartwheeled, tumbled, skidded, splattered, hammered or bounced, you probably know there is no planning for such an event and you'll also have lasting memories, if not photos, of every item you landed on and had impressed contusively or concussively into you body. So!