German summer 2021 hasn’t been very good so far. The temperatures are still in the lower 20’s (celcius) and we have lots of rain, although it is already mid of july. However – we got the possibility to test a very interesting product, which is perfect in these conditions – an inflatable vest made by the British company Exotogg.
The owner is a friend of Miriam on Facebook and founded Exotogg in 2017. He sent us a vest to hear our opinion. It works similar to inflatable camping mattresses, we had been selling for years, while still working in an outdoor store in Karlsruhe. Therefore we were quite interested in having a closer look on that product. We have been spending some time testing it now and are happy to present some details.
It is available in 2 sizes, regular/regular (length 64 cm/25 inch) and regular/short (length 55 cm/21,5 inch). We have tested the regular/regular version. It is made from Thermoplastic Polyurethan (TPU) to make it robust and still keep it lightweight. Obviously the vest is also wind- and waterproof with that construction. Our electronic scale shows 280g (~0.62 lbs) incl. velcros.
The vest can be packed very compact and comes with 2 velcros to attach the sides and a storage bag. Uninflated it has the following dimensions: shoulders 47 cm (18,5 inch) wide, lower width 53 cm (21 inch), middle lenght 72 cm (28 inch).
Of course, these dimensions become shorter the more you inflate the vest. So the company’s indication of size is around the maximum inflation you would use while wearing it under a motorcycle jacket – unless you want to look as muscular as me, while not being able to move anymore properly.
Here are some photos of Miri (167 cm/5′ 6 FT In) and me (181 cm/5′ 11 FT In) wearing the vest empty, inflated, with and without a motorcycle jacket on top. As you can see, Miri would rather need the regular/short version, since it is too long, but actually the vest is overall too wide for her ridiculous, tiny body. Therefore she uses a simple belt to make it fit a bit better, since the velcros aren’t working really well for her.
The size of the vest is ok for me, but I also need the minimum adjustment of the velco straps (although my upper body is extremely heroic). That’s completely fine when using it as riding gear, but could be better as soon as one wears it as an outer layer insulation vest, since it is not motorcycle gear in particular, but applicable for all outdoor activities. You can even use it quite well as a sleeping pillow. Some straps with clips would make the vest look more fashionable. However, we have to keep in mind, that Exotogg is still a small company with little units.
Usage and areas of use
Luckily – we haven’t been in a situation yet, where we had to inflate an emergency vest in a plane, but the valve looks pretty much the same. It’s a two-way inflation valve situated at the front upper right side of the vest. This way you can inflate the vest comfortably, while wearing your normal riding jacket on top of it. To release the air, you simply press the pin (green cross) inside the valve with your fingertip. So you don’t have to take off your jacket at all – that’s a quite smart solution.
The vest really shines in changing conditions and mountain regions, especially when the rider is wearing breathable mesh gear – like we do (Klim Induction Jacket and Held W’s Tropic 2 Jacket). We often have to use a wind jacket while riding in the mountains, since the temperatures change constantly and make you cool down quickly. Even uninflated, the Exotogg vest closes the main vents and already helps to keep out chilly wind. With decreasing temperatures you just have to give your vest a few blows and it starts keeping you very warm. Usually this is enough thermal protection, that you don’t need to stop riding to change clothes. That’s absolutely godsend as soon as you ride with women, since we all know they live in extremes. Or is it only me, that has to stop ~20 times while riding a mountain pass, because Miri’s condition changes from “freezing to death” to “sweating like hell” every few hundred meters?
Exotogg vest is a light product, that offers wind protection and great insulation as soon as it is inflated. It can save you some stops while riding in the mountains. People, that get chilled easily and wear mesh riding gear, might probably need an additional wind or rain jacket, since the vest doesn’t protect the arms. It also works really well for camping in moderate climate regions after a long day riding e.g. when cocking dinner after sunset, but it doesn’t replace a down jacket for RTW travelling. However, if you have space left, it is a great item to improve riding quality or to attract ladies with your heroic appearance.
For more informations and purchase, please visit their homepage www.EXOTOGG.com