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Reviewed: Eight top-tier vests to take you through fall

Castelli Fawesome

Pros: Exceptionally wind and water resistant (and close to “-proof” as anything here), and thick enough to provide thermal benefit as well
Cons: No pockets, not very packable
Retail: $120

The Fawesome reigns supreme in a narrow range of weather conditions and ride types, and is mediocre the rest of the time.

Castelli’s waterproof Gabba line has been frequently imitated, particularly in the last year or so, but is rarely bested. The magic is the Gore-produced fabric: a highly water resistant (on other garments, Castelli had to punch drainage holes in the pockets so they wouldn’t fill with rain), stretchable, breathable, thermal layer that is absolutely unbeatable in cold, wet weather.

This vest, which features the Gabba material on the chest and shoulders along with a more breathable, thinner fabric on the back, has no pockets to fill with water. It’s also not particularly packable — it’ll fit in a jersey pocket, but without any room to spare. For a vest we’re likely to wear all day, as the lack of packability would suggest, we’d like a few pockets. Castelli says the Fawesome is intended to be a race-day garment, but as most of us aren’t riding around with a team car behind us, the added practicality of pockets would be appreciated.

Fit is quite good, aided by the small bit of stretch inherent in the Gabba fabric. It’s tailored for racing, and the body type normally associated with racing. Be sure to try before you buy; we had to size down to prevent the shoulders from riding up a bit, creating little air scoops right at the edges. If you have the right size, it should fit like a race-cut jersey.

The Fawesome is a bit of a one trick pony, excelling in wet races or fast rides but falling short for most everyday use. It’s more comfortable and more aerodynamic than anything else that is equally water resistant, but that is its only real claim to fame. For something more versatile, look to Castelli’s Free vest.

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