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High Viz Vest Review - Initial Look

Review Date 23 March 2017

By Sharon Parker

front and back of the icon mil-spec and moto star ladies high viz jackets

High Viz can be a contentious subject. Whether you should wear it or not, if it helps or not? Everyone has their own opinion. I personally have always worn high viz. My reason is simple, I just want to be seen. So I try my best. I do not believe a high viz is a guarantee against a SMIDSY but I do personally believe they help a little. I know if I see a group of bikers it is the ones in high viz that I see first. I am not here to preach, I am explaining my reason for choosing to wear one that is all. Whether you wear one yourself is up to you.

I have until recently always bought the cheap work vests you can pick up anywhere for under £5. I have had both yellow and orange, but they do not last long. The reflective material quickly cracks, the binding begins to fray and the Velcro stops sticking. The fit is also terrible on me. Even a size small is always way too big. So after another trip down the motorway with my Velcro coming asunder and my vest flapping around my ears I decide enough is enough. I am going to buy myself a REAL motorcycle high viz vest. One with a zip and pockets and like everything. 

OK sounds simple but holey moley have you seen the price of these things? Why if anything has the word "Motorcycle" attached to it does it come with extortionate price tags? Try and find a ladies feminine vest then you can push the price up even further.  Anything branded, be it Oxford, Alpinestars, Revit etc you are looking at around £40. Oouchhee. 

So I do what I always do in such dire situations I consult EBay. I find a real pretty looking pink vest on EBay that is reasonably priced at £12. It is a brand name - Icon, so I look on the Internet for further information and to be sure I am getting it for a good price. Whooah I cannot believe my eyes...the in shop price for this same vest is £70. Haa madness. I go back to EBay. The Icon vest on offer is brand new with all labels attached in a size xs/s. Go on then I will have it, lets see what is so special about a £70 high end high viz.

Icon's Mil-Spec vest in deep pink with lots of decorative designs on the reflective panelsIcon Military Spec Vest

Now what is so special according to Icon's own website is this...oh by the way it is not apparently a vest but a errr corset.... Snigger....anyhow 

"While many have tried to imitate the ICON Mil-Spec line, none can match our ingenuity. The Corset Mil-Spec vest continues ICON’s commitment to the evolution of high-visibility riding gear. With a chassis constructed from breathable Fighter Mesh™ and generous reflective paneling, the Corset vest meets all U.S. military hi-visibility requirements. Along with the feminine graphics package, the pattern features a slight tailoring of the torso and elastic adjusters for its women’s specific application. A front entry zipper and velcro ID holder complete the package."

Right so it is Military spec. I visualise hard core Marines splashing through the mud in these pretty pink vests and chuckle away to myself. So much for military spec it is not even bullet proof. OK enough nonsense let's wait until it arrives. 

Well it duly arrived and I hate to admit it but on initial inspection I was impressed with the vest, I mean corset, no sod that I am calling it a vest. It just kind of oozes quality.  It is very well made with heavy duty zips on the front and the two front pockets. The attention to detail is second to none. Every single stitch is perfectly aligned. It is incredibly feminine with pretty patterns on the reflective material which is extensive. The amount of reflective material on the vest is the actual reason for it meeting military spec. 
The feminine touches continue with a cute heart on the front zip. The sides of the vest are were it clearly gets it's corset name from, with eyelets and elasticated string to enable an adjustable fit. 

the rear of the Icon corset as they like to call it. Pink panels and lots of reflective materialPlenty of reflective material

I cannot honestly say I feel that any vest could justify a price tag as high as £70 but I have to admit this really is an amazingly well designed and quality vest. The feminine touches are delightful.

Totally made up with my purchase I try it on over my jacket. Nooooo.... Despite the Corset style side panels being as loose as possible for maximum stretch this beauty is not going over my size 10 winter motorcycle jacket. It will however go over my smaller size 8 summer jacket.  Oh dear how disappointing, I will only be able to wear this on balmy summer days. Damn it. The sizing on Icon vest is therefore on the small size. I would expect xs/s to mean 8 to 10. 8 it does but 10 no way.  So you just need to be aware of this if like me you are tempted to buy this pink princess of a vest.

A silver heart shaped detail on the zip slider gives the corset a feminine touchCute feminine touches

I like this vest so much I decide to keep it purely for summer use. Which means I need another one to fit over my winter jacket. God I am spoiling myself all of a sudden. I know why. Trouble with my arm has made me worry about my long term biking future. What if I never get a chance in an uncertain future to ride in the clothing I have always hankered after. I have until now always been careful to save for the future but a switch has flicked, the living for the now and allowing myself to spoil myself has switched on.

I do not want two vests the same, even if I did I doubt I would find another Icon for £12. More EBay finds me another ladies specific vest. The brand is A Star Moto. Not one I have heard of before but the reviews are all positive. The vest is on offer for £16 as apposed to the usual £24. I hover over the buy it button. If I buy this I have spent £28 on high viz. I could have had 6 or 7 of the cheap ones for the same price. Oh well sod it just get it. So I do.

Second jacket duly arrives. Now a £20 vest is not going to compare to the Icons £70. However this vest did not disappoint. It also feels and looks like a quality item. It also has strong zips to the front and two of its front pockets. It has a further 2 front pockets which close with press studs, two side pockets with no closures and a back pocket which fastens with Velcro. So 7 pockets in total. 
It may have more pockets but it has for less reflective material. The feminine element is added via a pretty leaf scroll design on the front and back of the vest.

A bright yellow hi viz motorcycle jacket from A Star MotoA Star Moto Vest 

I was not sure whether to order xs or small in the vest because of its stretchable panels. The spec for the vest was as follows:-

  • Made of 600/D water resistant cordura
  • 190 TT comfortable white inner lining
  • 3M heat transfer night reflective printing front and back
  • YKK ordinal no 8 zip for fastening
  • STRETCHABLE white Lycra fabric front and back for stretch over the jacket
  • Two pocket front with waterproof zips
  • Two pocket front with flap and button
  • Two stretchable side pocket for water bottle and drink
  • one big pocket at back for gloves


However I did not want another too small vest so I went for the small. Good job I did. The description is quite correct. It does indeed have lovely stretchable panels. Yes they stretch quite a lot. However the lining of the vest does not stretch thus rendering the outer panel's stretch useless. Whoops someone made a boo boo. The designers clearly haven't thought this through. For the stretchable panels to work the vest would need to be either unlined of have flexible panels also within the lining. 

Fortunately with going for the size small, which at 36 inches is the exact width of my winter jacket, I had the perfect fit. Hooray! So as with the Icon vest be careful with the sizing. Do not expect any stretch with the A Star Moto vest. Just measure the width of your motorcycle jacket and order the same width vest and you will get a great fit. Mine fitted lovely.

The rear of the a star moto hi viz. More yellow, more reflective material and a large rear pocketPockets everywhere.

On initial inspection I am really thrilled with both vests. It is so nice to have vests that actually fit correctly and look more feminine.  I like the fact they are different in style and colour. After all variety is the spice of life. I look forward to wearing them and will give you an update on their long term usage. Will one out perform the other? We shall all have to wait and see.
Please note both Icon and A Star Moto do the above vests in other colour options and also in male versions.

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