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Aerostich Kanetsu AIRVANTAGE Electric Vest
- Product Review (submitted on December 23, 2013):
The Kanetsu (a Japanese word for “heated”) Airvantage vest is made of a slippery shell (marked “Windstopper”) with internal insulation. It seems to contain only the Airvantage air bladder(s) and the heating wire. As a result, when not blown up the vest is not bulky under other riding clothing.
The outer shell material makes it easier to pull a riding jacket (or Aerostich suit, I’d guess) on over it without the vest catching or bunching up. The vest can seemingly be worn either side out, though I only use it with the wires between me and the air bladder(s) rather than the other way around. When worn as I wear the vest, the collar has a comfortable lining (ultrasuede?) next to the rider’s skin.
I am about 6’ tall and 180lbs. A size large vest fits me well, being in between snug and loose (when not blown up).
The vest comes with the buyer’s choice of SAE plugs (also called trailer plugs) or QuiConnect2 connectors. As I’ve had a long and hateful history with failing SAE plugs (they develop internal resistance, get hot and steal current from your vest, leaving you cold), I chose the QuiConnect2 hardware.
As there is no choice of connector for the vest end of the cable (it’s SAE only), I make sure to not allow that connector to be twisted or pulled on by providing some kind of strain-relief to protect the connector.
The curly power cable includes an on-off pushbutton switch that is lighted by the bike’s end of the cable. That would seem to be obvious, but what it means in practice is that it’s possible to have the cable disconnected from the vest and still have the light on when the switch is depressed. This makes it possible (though unlikely) for the rider to look at the lighted switch and believe the vest is connected when it’s actually not.
The vest is labeled as being wind blocking and it works as advertised. When worn under a textile riding jacket that is itself not wind blocking, I noticed a distinct difference in how much of the (cold) wind reached my arms compared with my torso under the vest. Check.
Heating Without Airvantage:
The vest works like most other vests when it’s used without the Airvantage bladder(s) blown up. The rider feels heat here and not there and winds up either changing posture or taking a deep breath or both in order to help the distribution of warmth. In summary, about average for a generic electric vest. It provides warmth but needs to be helped along a bit by the wearer.
Heating With Airvantage:
All complaints about uneven heat disappear with a bit of air added to the mix. Breathing into the filler tube two or three times has the vest snuggling up to my lower back and immediately feeling warmer all around. It’s really a fundamental improvement, to the point that I think the extra money spent for the Airvantage feature over the regular Kanetsu vest is some of the best money I’ve spent for riding clothing.
The Fill Tube:
The fill tube includes a clever rubber/plastic cap that can be inserted in one way to just keep whatever goobers out of it and in another way to allow the vest to “breath out” all the way - for packing the vest away.
Interestingly to me, the user instructions that came with the vest mention that the fill tube can be shortened and noted that the most common amount to shorten it is about 2 inches. I’m not sure why I’d shorten it as it doesn’t get in my way and I can reach it without bending my neck weirdly. Dunno, maybe I’ll change my mind about that at some point.
This is a nice piece of equipment, made of quality materials and with clever design features that make it stand out from other products. Rider Wearhouse is proud of these vests, I imagine, with that pride being reflected in the price. :-) To me, though, cold weather gear is one of the the things I’ve found it makes to “just spend the money”.