**Tested by Justin Hayzelden for two years, 2,500 miles.
Quality 4/5, Value 4/5**
The last thing I want when I’m bimbling down to a local bike meet on my classic is to be trussed up in touring textiles or laden down with leather, especially on a warm summer’s evening. That’s not to say I throw caution to the wind and head off in a vest, shorts and flip-flops - but there are some great casual alternatives about, such as this X Kevlar hoodie from Brit kit specialists RST.
RST X Kevlar Tech zip-through hoodie
Apart from the subtle embossed black-on-black RST logo on the left breast, the X Kevlar looks pretty much like any other hoodie. The outer skin is a suitably soft 50/50 polyester/cotton mix, but that’s where any similarity to standard streetwear ends, as the entire garment (bar the hood) is backed by a DuPont Kevlar inner lining that earns it a CE A rating for abrasion resistance.
The Kevlar layer adds a bit of weight to the hoodie, which feels reassuring when you’re wearing it, as well as adding an element of effective windproofing. The downside of that is that you don't get much ventilation on a hot day, but I only use it for short journeys so it's not really of an issue. And anyway, I'd rather it kept me cosy after the sun's gone down on my ride home.
Although RST doesn't make any claims as to its water repellency, I did get caught in a light shower and managed to stay dry underneath - another benefit of the Kevlar layer, I believe.
On the inside is a perforated comfort lining, which also provides suitably snug location points for armour. Level 1 CE shoulder and elbow protection are included, plus there’s a large pocket for an optional back protector – I currently have RST’s Contour Plus CE level 1 (£17.99) fitted. From the outside, it’s near impossible to tell there’s any armour at all.
It’s common sense that any protective clothing is only as effective as its closure system, and the RST X Kevlar hoodie is blessed with a chunky MAX zip to hold it together. The two outer pockets also have MAX zips to stop your stuff spilling out on the move, and there’s a generous inner pocket big enough for both wallet and phone.
I love the low-key looks, despite the fact that it has a full suite of armour fitted. With a decent pair of riding jeans and some similarly understated footwear, it’s possible to blend right in almost anywhere.
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