Leatt’s top shelf soft body vest for this year, the 3DF Air Fit Body Vest, is a major improvement over an already good vest, with a host of enhanced features. The new vest features an overall lighter, airier feel, an ultra secure strapping system that is super easy to use, and an improved perforated, multilayer, 3DF Airfit impact foam. The new foam offers a more flexible fit and better body contouring compared to single-layer foam, but give the armor a big hit and it still transforms into a harder, energy-absorbing protector. Most importantly, this gear is CE certified EN-1621-2/3 level 2 for back and chest impacts, as well as decent side protection around the kidney area.
The Air Vest features MoistureCool, which is a washable fabric that keeps the protectors in place while wicking moisture away from the body to keep you cool. Unlike other protection products, this vest integrates perfectly with all Leatt neck braces, or works alone. Leatt uses a set of tabs called the BraceOn neck brace integration connector, so you don’t need straps to hold your Leatt brace in place.
I have been riding for a very long time, with many accidents to my credit. No, I don’t wear that as a badge of honor, but I do know a thing or two about accidents. I also know the worst that can happen. Believe me: sometimes the worst of accidents can happen during the simplest of rides. So why tempt fate? At the beginning of this year’s DH season I had a nasty accident that ended with a very large hematoma on my left side. I wasn’t wearing the Leatt Air Vest at the time. From then on, once I managed to get back on the bike, I always wore armor.
The air vest fits and feels very much like a compression shirt. At 190lbs and 5’9″, I can safely say I am not in the best of shape as of late. But a size large fits me just fine. Setting up the vest is really a no brainer: just simply zip it up and then latch the single strap, and you’re done.
I really loved the hoops that allow you to hold your Leatt brace in place. This is such a great idea and easily fits through my jersey’s neck opening.
The vest itself takes a few minutes of your body heat to soften up the chest and back armor a bit. Once you’ve worn the armor for a few minutes it feels much better. Then, the compression vest won’t move around independently of your body–rather, it follows the body’s contours. After 15 minutes or so, you forget you have armor on.
I opted for the vest as I do change up elbow guards from time to time, and using a complete suit wasn’t what I was after. I wanted good back and side support without compromising comfort. Well, Leatt has this down.
An up side to a compression shirt-like fit is that a nagging injury like a large hematoma can be held nicely in place without jiggling around and causing more pain while riding (something I learned the hard way).
During my review with the vest, I haven’t had any crazy accidents with it on: just a few simple brushes with branches, but nothing that caused any off-bike excursions. If and when something does happen, I am sure I will do a further report.
A big thanks to the folks at Leatt for providing the Air Vest for review.