The VPD 2.0 Spine Vest was tested on multiple MTB rides in the Netherlands, temperatures between 15 and 25 degrees, and in a number of longer trails in Spain, Pyrenees and mountains in the Alicante provinvce. The rides in Spain were invariably between 2 and 3 hours, riding at temperatures between 30-35 degrees celsius.
The first time I wore a back protector was when I rented one during winter sports vacation. I had started snowboarding not so long ago, and notices that falling down, a lot, was a part of my learning curve. The rent protectors were invariably hard shells and somewhat lacking in comfort. And I didn’t wear them with a lot of pleasure. But laying down the cash to buy one of my own really didn’t add up, since I wouldn’t be needing them that often; only during wintersports vacations.
Untill I found myself hurtling into a tree on a fairly steep Italian mountainside. Looking back on that fall, I realised I was quite lucky. I wasn’t even going very fast, it was inexperience and stupidity if anything. But had I not fallen sideways into the tree, had my body rotated a bit further, I would have had more than the bruise I ended up. I wouldn’t have been able to get down that mountainside by myself.
Since then I have been considering wearing back protection during mountainbiking as well, and after yet two more tumbles back home, which saw me flying over the handlebars I decided I wouldn;t head up into the spanish mountains to meet Spanish rocks without back protection.
Having had a great experience withPOC’s VPD material I decided to buy the VPD 2.0 Spine Vest, figuring that since I would be wearing it on my bike as well as on my board, the investement would be worth it. And it seems to have been. Only days after my return from Spain, I took a new trail in Holland, and on just a short downhill, hit a gutter in the trail and was sent flying. A small crash test and everthing seems to have work fine. Obviously this is no scientific standard test, but experienced based. We have to take that for what it is. In the end, every fall you walk away from unharmed, in my opinion is another notch on the belt of your body armour. Because you can hardly take it off and repeat the fall to compare. Can you?
As I have argued in the other reviews of the protective material I reviewed recently (POC Trabec helmet and POC VPD 2.0 DH KNee pads), comfort is the essential, albeit indirect key to the effectiveness of protective gear because comfortable protective gear is just easier to wear; it becomes part of your daily bike or board gear. I feel safer, I feel more relaxed, my performance improves; I am less likely to fall in the first place. Simple as that.
The Spine Vest meets my criteria for comfort, the VPD material is flexible, moulds to the form of my back. The fit of the vest (I wore a tight fit, there is also a regular fit) was really good, making sure the vest never floated around, but just kept hugging my back. The mesh of the vest itself really let’s the wind through quite easily and on many rides I wore the vest over a shirt, or just only the vest.
Obviously the vest is a large product, and covering your whole back it is something you will feel you are wearing. Then again, normally I wear a back pack or a hydration pack, so there is hardly any added discomfort. Just recently I did a ride with just the vest on, no backpack. Felt fine as well.
The Spine Vest has become a fixed part of my bike gear. I have not gone on a ride without it since the first time I put it on. No reason not to ;-). I can wait to test it on my board when the seasons turn cold again. I have no doubt it will serve its purpose on the slopes as well as it does on trails. Gonna dubble the worth of my investement. In in a way, seeing as the Spine Vest retails at a hefty € 260,- I am happy about that; then again, you can’t put a price on a healthy back, can you?