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

Pearl Izumi Elite Aero

Pros: Wind- and water-resistant, packable, tight fitting
Cons: Not overly breathable; tight torso begs for a second zipper to make pocket access possible
Retail: $110

The Elite Aero vest from Pearl Izumi is one of those pieces you’ll find yourself stuffing into your pockets habitually. Its cut and stretchy design allow it to hug the torso quite well and the clean lines will match just about anything.

The entire torso of the Pearl Izumi Elite Aero vest is made of Pearl Izumi’s Softshell Lite fabric, which offers superb wind and water resistance, keeping us warm and dry even when we were caught in light showers or jumped off-road to rip through some mud puddles on the ’cross bike.

However, even on those wet, chilly rides, a sweat spot formed in the middle of our back. Put in a few hard efforts and the breathability of the Elite Aero will be overwhelmed by perspiration — a mesh back would be helpful here.

It’s a somewhat expensive piece of outerwear, though affordable compared to some of the other pieces here. Unfortunately, that slight savings in the wallet coincides with the vest’s lack of breathability. That drawback, combined with the lack of pockets, makes the Elite Aero a poor choice as an all-day garment, but for a rider who is often climbing and descending the Elite Aero vest is just the ticket, easily thrown on for a chilly descent and then stashed away for the next climb. You’ll be thankful for the wind resistance and the Pearl Izumi “form fit.”

The snug fit of the Elite Aero does make accessing jersey pockets difficult and had us wishing for a second zipper at the bottom of the vest, rather than having to hike up the bottom seam every time we wanted to grab a snack.

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