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The new standard.
A back protector that can double as a hydration pack? Sounds pretty good to us. It must've sounded pretty good to the designers over at Alpinestars, too, because they created the Paragon Protective Shirt, a stretchy mesh jacket that comes with a CE-certified back protector that can be removed, replaced, and swapped out for a hydration reservoir when long XC days call for more water than impact protection. The back panel also boasts dual cutouts that let you direct the hose either over your shoulder or under your arm, while the front left shoulder features a tube loop that makes sure the hose stays where you can reach it.
As you'd expect, the stretch mesh body fabric of the Paragon is designed to sit close to your skin, the better to slide comfortably under a jersey. It's also extremely lightweight and breathable, so it won't weigh you down or trap sweat, and it conceals two padded side pockets designed to hold small gear like gloves or a multitool. Additionally, Alpinestars integrated a padded zippered pocket at the back designed to hold your phone, because if you don't get pictures of your buddy sending it, it didn't actually happen.
- Item #APN016H
- Q & A
Great concept, but needs work
- Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
- Fit: Runs small
This vest definitely runs small - this is probably by design so that it can fit seamlessly underneath your shirt or jersey but it felt very tight and was difficult to take on and off.
Secondly, when I loaded my 2L hydration pack, this only made the vest feel that much tighter, and the weight of the pack actually caused the vest to sag in the rear rather than keep it suspended higher on your back, which caused the neckline on the front to press against my neck when shaking around.
The back protector works great, and I think if that's your primary intention this would actually be perfect for you - just size up unless you want to feel like a sausage. The back pocket is much smaller than I expected - for reference I could not fit an iPhone 6 Plus in the rear pocket. The side pockets are great and the padding prevents you from feeling any of the contents.
Overall the construction is rather thin, which is likely to save weight and increase breathability, but I think that's exactly why I was encountering the problems that I did.
Overall, a great vest if what you're looking for is back protection and extra pockets. If you're looking for a hydration vest, I'd stick to the backpack (ugh) or look elsewhere.
Great concept/ Fits under jersey!
- Familiarity: I've used it several times
- Fit: Runs small
- Size Bought: Small
I tend to over prepare on virtually every ride, and so far the pack has been the only way to go. I suppose it is a by-product of my experience as a guide. But there are those few days when I get out to just nail a short XC ride or go lay down some speed in the park utilizing chairlifts. When those opportunities arose in the past, I would still carry my pack, or I 'd leave it at the base of the chair and get a flat! Eventually I came across this vest in a profile feature on EWS rider Jerome Clementz. The flying frenchman said he liked its versatility and the storage is amazing. What's more is you can swap the back protector for a 2L or smaller Hydration bladder. I liked the idea and decided to pick one up. So far so good. The mesh breaths well, and the back protector is a nice creature comfort for those park days. The side pockets are padded so if you take a digger, you don't bruise yourself up too much. I would recommend this to anyone looking to shave weight and simplify their kit. The fact that it fits well under a jersey is also very important for being in stealth mode. I bought it in Small for precisely this reason. I have to peel it off like a wetsuit, but it doesn't shift or chafe under my clothing.
Does it come with the water reservoir? or i have to buy as an extra? thanks!
Hey Daniel - The water reservoir is not included, you would need to buy it separately. Feel free to contact me directly with any additional questions.
- Kyle L. - Expert Gearhead