I had a down vest that I thought was great. Thankfully, it caught on fire.
Last February, I ended up a little too close to a barrel fire at a Chrome-sponsored back alley party at One on One Bicycle Studio.
After friends extinguished the flames, and lamenting the molten mess of my favorite vest, a member of the Chrome Familia hinted that just maybe something warm was in the works for this fall. And a few weeks ago, just as the leaves were turning in Minnesota, a package from San Francisco arrived.
Inside was a new Chrome Warm Vest ($150), a reversible vest with a water-resistant nylon shell and synthetic insulation.
So far, I’ve had great rides with the vest and I’m impressed. From mountain biking, a quick overnight camping trip, and a short ride to a pub, the Warm Vest is gear I want to have on.
The vest is great for riding because of a couple unique design features: a “4-way stretch Nylon mesh yoke” and reversible construction. The mesh yoke is a stretchy panel across the shoulder blades that allows the back of the jacket to stretch.
Arching your back while riding typically causes a jacket or vest to ride up and bunch around the shoulders. Not the case with the Chrome Warm Vest. The yoke gives you freedom to move your upper body and get out of the saddle and ride hard without the vest moving uncomfortably or pulling all of your layers up on your back.
Vests in general are more breathable than jackets because of the open arms. Integrated into the mesh yoke is a vent that kept me from overheating when riding fast without a bag.
Chrome really chose some great materials while they were developing this piece. The outer construction of the orange side is a light and smooth nylon. This is the side that is exposed when the jacket is stuffed into its rear pocket, making for a comfortable camp pillow. (Much better than the durable dry bag I was stuffing for a pillow on my last couple of overnighters.)
The black side is also made of the same material but the insulation is sewn to this side thus giving it the quilted appearance.
Both sides have some reflective elements for night visibility and the waist and pocket have a heavier nylon trim to resist wear. I really appreciate it when a company uses a high quality zipper and Chrome has with a YKK that is split at the bottom.
The insulation is light weight and low bulk and does well at trapping heat even when the weather is damp. There seems to be a little added warmth when wearing the jacket with the solid orange side out (because less seams are exposed on that side).
There is a chest pocket accessible from the orange side when the main zipper is up, but it’s inside the jacket when wearing the black side out. The black side has two hand-warmer pockets that I wish had a zipper or snap closure.
The only potential flaw is a seam on the top of the shoulder that’s noticeable while wearing a heavy backpack.
So far I’ve worn the vest everyday and on nearly every ride I’ve gone on since I’ve had it and it has quickly become my go-to insulation for fall. It’s durable and I expect it to last for a number of years.
If you’re thinking an insulated jacket might be more of what you need be sure to look at the Chrome WARM Work Shirt ($180). It’s made of the same materials and construction as the vest and layers just as easily.